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Residential Planner Jobs: Career & Salary Facts

Residential planners help allocate the use of space to develop cities and preserve natural areas. Most jobs in residential planning require a master's degree; read on for more about what you can learn in a program and the career outlook for residential planners.

What Does a Residential Planner Do?

Residential planners are also called regional planners or urban planners. They are responsible for ensuring land development accommodates the needs of a community and adheres to all environmental and land use regulations. A residential planner specializes in assessing land for the purpose of residential expansion to accommodate many factors, including population growth. They must consider not just which land to use for new residences, but also what infrastructure needs to be in place to accommodate a new housing development. They work with city officials and planning committees to determine how to proceed with development. They also present proposals to planning committees and community members to ensure that the proposal addresses any concerns and has support. As part of the process, they may solicit environmental studies to determine the best way to accommodate residential expansion.

The chart below provides more details related to this career:

Degree Required Master's degree
Key Skills Conducting field investigations; presenting projects to community; staying current on codes and regulations
Key Responsibilities Understanding community structure and concerns; working with local officials; drafting proposals
Licensure or Certification AICP certification recommended
Job Growth (2018-2028) 11% growth*
Median Salary (2018) $73,050*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Is a Residential Planner?

Residential planners help decide the best use for land and direct the growth of residential areas. They develop plans for road location, school construction, public housing development and other infrastructure elements to ameliorate social, fiscal and environmental problems. They may also develop plans for handling pollution, wetland preservation, waste water management and forest conservation. Policy writing and other legislative activities could also be among a residential planner's duties.

Do I Need a Degree?

You generally need a master's degree in urban and regional planning to work as a residential planner, although a master's degree in geography, environmental planning or urban design could also qualify you for this position. Additionally, many urban planning programs offer joint degree programs, allowing you to combine a master's degree in urban planning with a graduate degree in law, social work, health management policy, occupational health or environmental health.

What Will I Learn in an Urban and Regional Planning Graduate Degree Program?

Coursework in these programs is usually didactic and emphasizes original research and practical application. It also combines training in related areas, such as earth sciences, economics, finance, public policy or healthcare administration. Most programs also allow you to chose an area of concentration, which could include environmental planning, housing development, community development or transportation. The following are examples of courses you might find in the curriculum:

  • Analytic methods in planning
  • Land use planning
  • Planning theory
  • Field problems in urban planning
  • Real estate process
  • Geographic development
  • Freight transportation planning

What Is the Job Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment rate for urban and regional planners is expected to rise 11% between 2018 and 2028 (www.bls.gov). This is much faster than the national average for all jobs. With the increasing need for states to provide public services, such as transportation, commercial development, housing and pollution control, the demand for regional planners will also increase. The median annual salary for regional planners was $73,050 as of May 2018, and most planners were employed by local governments, architectural, engineering and related services, and state governments.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Architects and civil engineers may work with residential planners. Architects develop plans for proposed housing designs. Civil engineers may be involved in designing the roads and bridges needed to accommodate a new development. Architects and civil engineers need to have a bachelor's degree in their field, and they also need to be aware of environmental and land use regulations and building codes so that they can ensure their proposals adhere to all relevant regulations. This is something that a residential planner has to consider as well.