How do I Become a Regional Planner?

Angela Crout-Mitchell

In order to become a regional planner, the candidate must meet the necessary requirements established by the city or community he or she wishes to work in. It is essential to have a bachelor's degree in a related field, and many cities and towns require a master's level education. Experts project that regional planners will continue to be sought after to assist in the planning and execution of a multitude of different projects required by most growing urban and suburban areas. The majority of regional planning professionals work standard 40 hour weeks and are often required to spend time both indoors and out during the various planning stages. It is advised that those considering this industry field are prepared for the certainty of spending time outside in varying weather conditions as part of the job.

Regional planners may help with expanding suburban areas.
Regional planners may help with expanding suburban areas.

Those people planning to become a regional planner should have an interest and talent for the detail oriented work involved with planning major projects for development. These professionals play an important role in executing such projects as new stadiums, housing units, city building, roads, and a variety of other necessary urban developments. In many cases, these professionals are also responsible for ensuring the projects fit in well with the local ordinances pertaining to sustainability and environmental concerns.

Regional planners may find positions in large cities, determining how to solve traffic flow issues.
Regional planners may find positions in large cities, determining how to solve traffic flow issues.

The road to become a regional planner starts with obtaining a bachelor's degree in the field of urban and regional planning. In many cases, the student will have to search out a larger college or university that offers this subject as a major. This phase of study will include coursework in political science, landscaping planning, and engineering. While a bachelor's degree in regional planning is considered to be ideal, those students with degrees in related fields, such as engineering or architecture, may qualify for graduate level courses as well.

Many employers are now looking for candidates with a master's degree to fill their local regional planner positions. This is due to a high level of competition and very qualified candidates looking for positions in this field. Students accepted into master's programs can expect to expand on their previous coursework with an emphasis on civil engineering, geographic information systems, and finance. After acquiring a related bachelor's degree, candidates often find they can complete the master's level coursework in one to two years with little difficulty. Qualified regional planners may find positions available with large cities, mid-sized towns, and rapidly growing urban areas.

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