Architectural Planner: Salary and Career Facts

Research what it takes to become an architectural planner. Learn about job duties, salary potential, and optional certifications to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Land Use Planning degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Architectural Planner?

When a city or rural area is undergoing development, architectural planners craft the creative and technical visions that make the spaces appealing, functional and efficient. Some tasks you might do when developing projects include meeting with other project developers, reviewing site plans, making recommendations and presenting projects to clients or communities. This job requires a fair amount of knowledge regarding zoning, local regulations, environmental impact, marketing and community needs. The following chart provides an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Master's degree
Education Field of Study Urban or regional planning; environmental planning; civil engineering
Key Responsibilities Plan the layout of and use of cities and communities; review development plans; attend meetings with developers and public officials; interact with government and special interest groups
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% (for all urban and regional planners)*
Median Salary (2015) $68,220 (for all urban and regional planners)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will My Job as an Architectural Planner Entail?

Your primary duty as an architectural planner is to develop visions for cities, landscapes, communities and infrastructure systems. You'll attempt to find the most effective uses of land with regards to environment, community and economic issues. Typically, your work will be focused on a specific branch of architectural planning, such as redevelopment or transportation planning.

As an architectural planner, your time will be divided between several different environments. You'll work in a studio, creating plans and drawings, often using computer software. You may also do site visits in order to gain first-hand knowledge of the space on which you're working. Architectural planners must also work with government and community groups affected by their work; this will require you to attend meetings, forums or hearings in which you'll listen to various groups' concerns and make cases for your plans.

What Salary Can I Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary among all urban and regional planners was $68,220 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov). BLS reported mean salaries in architectural, engineering and related planning services at $76,100 during the same period. Your opportunities were expected to be as fast as average, with anticipated growth of 6% between 2014 and 2024. As of the BLS' report, your best prospects were expected to be with the local government.

What Types of Degree Programs are Available?

The BLS reports that a master's degree is required for most entry-level jobs you'll find in architectural planning. You can earn a degree in urban or regional planning, urban design, civil engineering or environmental planning. Your training will include studio-based work, in which you build your planning experience through project work. You may also spend time studying a variety of different cities, rural spaces or neighborhoods in order to better understand the field.

Prior to entering a master's degree program, you'll need to complete a bachelor's degree in planning or a related field. Bachelor's degree programs in urban planning often include lecture-based courses and opportunities for internships. You may also earn a professional bachelor's degree in architecture. Such programs generally require five years to complete, and they carry accreditation from the National Architectural Accreditation Board (www.naab.org).

What Certification Will I Need?

The American Planning Association (APA) offers voluntary certification through the American Institute of Certified Planners, its professional organization (www.planning.org). You'll need to be an APA member in order to apply for certification. In addition, you'll need to be actively working in planning and have completed a formal training program. Once you've met the eligibility requirements, you must pass an exam covering a wide range of planning topics; these include planning law, growth management, development administration and historic preservation.

Most states won't require you to have a license as a planner, though if your work is in architecture, you'll need to be registered. You can become registered by passing the Architect Registration Examination, which is offered by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (www.ncarb.org).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Closely related to architectural planners, civil engineers design and maintain civil infrastructure for communities, including transportation and utilities. Landscape architects design recreational and aesthetically pleasing parks, gardens and other community facilities. Architects design commercial, public and residential buildings. Unlike architectural planners all three of these careers only require a bachelors degree in most cases.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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