Urban planners are highly detailed oriented and creative individuals. As of 2018, according to Truity, a site that offers personality tests, 71% of urban planners work for the local government in some capacity.
Urban planners will need to know local zoning laws, be able to deal with local government officials and community leaders and be able to work as part of a team.
Job growth for urban planners is predicted to grow 11% between 2018 and 2020 making it a solid career path, and this is a guide for how to write a strong resume (see complete resume sample down below).
Resume objective for urban developer
An urban developer wants to showcase their attention to detail, their ability to get things done, and that can accomplish projects on time and on budget.
You want to show a potential employer that you have a strong sense of cultural awareness as well as the ability to visualize a project and turn it into reality.
After surveying dozens of job postings, we discovered employers want individuals who can work on a multidisciplinary team: architects, building engineers, landscape architects and environmental experts.
This is a field where more experience is often considered better, so mentioning your years of experience or any large projects you worked on could catch a screener’s eye and move your resume to the save pile.
Your objective is the place to “humbly-brag” about all you have accomplished.
Urban developer with 12+ years and who is a licensed landscape architect seeks a position where they can apply skills and work as part of a multidisciplinary team. Experienced in field investigations, surveys, and impact studies that analyze data on economic, social, regulatory, and physical factors affecting land use.
Resume skills for an urban planner
Urban planners need such a wide range of skills that we could not possibly list them all (although you probably have all of them!), so instead after doing extensive research we will break down what we found.
According to Cities Alliances some of the top skills an urban planner will need include vision, communication, project management and the ability to deliver.
The American Planning Organization agreed with those skills and also stated that urban planners need the ability to analyze demographic information, the ability to act as a mediator, and the understanding of local, state, and federal government rules and regulations.
Urban planners need a mix of soft-skills and hardcore tech and scientific skils to perform well in their position. Those who can marry the two are more likely to find success in this career.
Project Management | Problem Solving | SketchUp | Photoshop | AutoCAD | Zoning laws & permits
Urban planner work experience
Much of an urban planner’s work experience is going to revolve around knowledge of permits, regulations, appropriate use, and assessments.
In your work experience section on your resume, outline all the work and expertise you have in those areas.
Additionally either in your general skill section or in your work experience you will want to note all the various software programs related to urban planning and architecture you are skilled in.
Sample Work Experience
U.S. Department of the Navy
Community Planner, 2012-current
Resolved technical and construction issues and reviewed all project plans to verify they met facility requirements. Worked directly with stakeholders to ensure budgetary and other concerns were met.
- Lead integrated project teams
- Knowledge of several design software programs
- Aligned planning criteria with design criteria
- Conducted reviews of permits and mandatory referrals
- Proficient in Illustrator, ArcGIS, AutoCAD, & Microsoft
U.S. Department of the Interior
Outdoor Recreation Planner, 2006-2012
Developed plans for maintenance and installation and participated in the final execution of financial and program work plans. Managed a team of employees and volunteers in the overseeing of day to day functions.
- Prepared recreation activity plans
- Conducted environmental assessments
- Process recreation permits for special use
- Monitored budgets and prepared regular reports
- Skilled with Photoshop, Illustrator, & SketchUp
The Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission
Senior Planner, 2001-2006
Assisted in the implementation of the applicable environmental regulations, educating the public on the requirements, permitting regulations, and assisting with state reporting requirements. Coordinated with local and federal agencies and participated in fieldwork.
- Spoke at public hearings to provide expertise and information
- Collected and maintained databases related to planning purposes
- Conducted reviews of Natural Resource Inventories
- Knowledge of land use regulations and permits
Urban planner education
Becoming an urban planner will likely involve advanced education. You will need a bachelors in a related field and then follow that up with a masters degree.
Typically you will want an undergrad in a related area. According to Best Degree Programs the most popular undergrad degrees include economics, agriculture design, architecture, engineering, landscape architect, and geography.
There are some colleges that offer an undergrad in urban planning, which could secure you an entry level job as a junior planner, community planner, or a parks project coordinator.
Earning a bachelors and working at an entry level job while you obtain your master’s or in between undergrad and graduate school is a great way to earn hands on experience.
Many urban planning positions are seeking someone with a master’s degree and work experience.
California State University
Master of Science, Urban Planning, 2011-2014
Arizona State University, Tempe
Bachelor of Science, Environmental Engineering, 2005-2009
- Study Abroad Program: Sustainability Challenges of the Wildlife Economy in South Africa
Depending on the scope of your particular program your courses may be geared more towards the environment and agriculture or more towards urban and suburban life.
Most likely, if you receive a master’s in urban planning you will level out any gaps you may have from your undergrad program.
The key here is to focus on the position at hand and highlight the courses that are most applicable.
For example, if you are applying for a position in a major city you should highlight your course work in urban environments, architecture, knowledge of city ordinances, and political relations.
- Environmental Engineering Fundamentals: Biological Processes
- Engineering Business Practice
- Earth Systems Engineering and Management
- Contemporary Urban planning in the United States
- Planning Law
- Sustainable Development & Environmental Impact
Urban planners have a host of certifications they can seek out and earn to boost their credentials. The American Institute of Certified Planners or AICP, is the main resource for certifications.
After scanning dozens of real job postings, frequent certifications that popped up were, Certified Transportation Planners, Certified Environmental Professional, and Certified Urban professional.
Other certifications you may wish to consider depending on your career goals include, Certified Irrigation Designer, Certified Landscape Architect, and City and Metropolitan Certification.
- AICP – Certified Environmental Planner
- Sustainable Urban Planning Certificate
Complete urban planner resume sample
Now that we have delved into what should be included on an urban planner resume, we are going to take a look at a real job posting.
Following that, is a complete sample resume to bring it all together.
After looking closely at this job posting you will see that this position is based strongly in relations with the community and the historic preservation of the area.
There is a heavy technical side as well including data, zoning and maintaining electronic files.
The last sentence of the Position Scope is a great snapshot of what this position requires “This position must demonstrate communication, technical, analytical, and graphic skills, and have experience in working with neighborhood or other special interest groups.”
Urban planner with 10+ years of experience in city planning, historical conservation, and community outreach and organization seeks a position to apply their skills. Experienced in electronic data collection, permits, local zoning laws and sustainability planning.
Strong verbal & written communication skills | Work well on a team | Photoshop | ArcGIS | Microstation | Data collection & analysis
Town of Culpeper
Planning and Community Development Director, 2013-2020
Served the public by planning and implementing current and long term planning services. Oversaw a team of seven members in a fast-paced environment with an annual budget of over $700k. Worked closely with public boards, commissions and regulatory agencies.
- Ability to provide strong and effective leadership
- Managed several complex projects at the same time
- Knowledge of ArcGIS, Mapbox, Sketchup, & Illustrator
- Ability to review of legal instruments, deeds, plats, agreements, site bonds, etc.;
Land Planning Analyst
Experience working on a diverse set of projects including community planning, urban design and land planning. Completed work as part of a team and independently. USe graphic software and exhibited strong skills in planning and designing virtually
- Skilled in Microsoft Office, Sketchup, Photoshop and Adobe Creative Suite
- Ability to work in a timely fashion and within budget
- Strong people skills and ability to collaborate with community leaders
- Knowledge of progressive planning trends and strategies
City of Aberdeen
GIS and Planning Technician, 2000 – 2005
Developed, edited, and maintained GIS data while assuring quality control. Advised on the development and implementation of plans. Maintained a file system for plats, rezonings, and vacation of right-of-ways.
- Knowledgeable in local, state and federal dt sources
- Ability to produce maps
- Skilled in computers and programming languages
- Skilled in prioritizing and planning
- Certified Economic Developer
- APA Certified Planner
- Land Use and Environmental Planning Certificate
University of Florida
Master of Urban & Regional Planning, 2002-2006
Bachelor of Arts, Urban Studies, 1996-2000
- Housing Policy and Its Impact on Urban Areas
- Community Organizing and Advocacy
- American Communities: Structure and Change
- City and Suburb in American History
After reading through what it takes to become a successful urban planner, you can see how wide and varied the field is.
The key is to discover what area of urban planning appeals to you the most and head off in that direction.
While many of the same skills are used across the board, and you could switch areas of interest, this is definitely a field where the more specific knowledge you have in an area, the more you may be able to advance.
- Urban planners can work almost anywhere!
- A love of history, math, community and politics could help you
- It is a career that requires both hard and soft skills
Tips from Experts
“Dull, inert cities, it is true, do contain the seeds of their own destruction and little else. But lively, diverse, intense cities contain the seeds of their own regeneration, with energy enough to carry over for problems and needs outside themselves.” – Jane Jacobs, Author, and Activist who influenced Urban Planning
“It is difficult to design a place that will not attract people. What is remarkable is how often this has been accomplished.” – William H. Whyte, American Urbanist & Organizational Analyst
“The mark of a great city isn’t how it treats its special places – everybody does that right – but how it treats its ordinary ones.” – Aaron M. Renn, Urban Analyst
Do you have a passion for planning? Do you have a desire to help people in the city where you live or around the world? Are you someone who wants to beautify an area and preserve history?
If so then a career as an urban planner may be the right path for you.
It takes a lot of hard work and education to get your foot through the door, but once you are in, there is a whole world out there to explore and design.