Careers in Planning

Many planners specialize. The following are common types of urban and regional planners:

Land use and code enforcement planners are concerned with the way land is used and whether development plans comply with codes, which are the standards and laws of a jurisdiction. These planners work to carry out effective planning and zoning policies and ordinances. For example, a planner may develop a policy to encourage development in an underutilized location and discourage development in an environmentally sensitive area.

Transportation planners develop transportation plans and programs for an area. They identify transportation needs or issues, assess the impact of services or systems, and attempt to predict future transportation patterns. For example, as growth outside the city creates more jobs, the need for public transportation to get workers to those jobs increases. Transportation planners develop and model possible solutions and explain the possibilities to planning boards and the public.

Environmental and natural resources planners attempt to mitigate the harmful effects of development on the environment. They may focus on conserving resources, preventing destruction of ecosystems, or cleaning polluted areas.

Economic development planners focus on the economic activities of an area. They may work to expand or diversify commercial activity, attract businesses, create jobs, or build housing.

Urban design planners strive to make building architecture and public spaces look and function in accordance with an area’s development and design goals. They combine planning with aspects of architecture and landscape architecture. Urban design planners focus on issues such as city layout, street design, and building and landscape patterns.

Other planning jobs include job titles such as:

  • City Planner
  • Community Development Officer
  • Conflict Resolution Mediator/Negotiator
  • Disaster Risk Planner
  • Economic Development Officer
  • Environmental Planner
  • Geographic Information System Planner
  • Heritage Coordinator
  • Housing Analyst
  • Industrial Planner
  • Land Use Planner
  • Municipal Planner
  • Planning Director
  • Planning Consultant
  • Policy Analyst
  • Recreation and Park Planner
  • Regional Planner
  • Research Officer
  • Resource Development Officer
  • Social Planner
  • Strategic Planner
  • Tourism Planner

How to become a planner:

In high school, you should take courses in language arts, mathematics, geography, social studies, computers and fine arts. A degree from an accredited university in Urban and Regional Planning or City and Regional Planning is the most thorough educational preparation for the planning field.

Urban and regional planners usually need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited planning program to qualify for professional positions. Currently, the University of Technology, Jamaica’s Papine Campus offers a bachelor’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning, the only such offering in the English speaking Caribbean. Also, the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine (Trinidad) offers a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning. Qualifications can also be gained outside of the region at colleges and universities in Canada, the United States, and Europe.

Links to Undergraduate and Graduate programmes:

University of Technology, Jamaica

University of the West Indies, St. Augustine

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP)

Planetizen Program Directory:

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