How to Become a City Planner
How to Become an Urban Designer
Do you find yourself wondering why someone designed neighborhoods or roads or parks a certain way? You might have what it takes to become an urban designer. You’ll need to get an undergraduate degree, and probably a Master’s degree, to move up in your field. Other credentials, like membership in a professional organization or certifications, will help you become an urban designer. Once you’ve got education and experience, prepare your resume and start applying for jobs.
Getting Your Education
Earn a Bachelor’s degree in urban design.Most urban designer positions require a Bachelor’s degree in urban planning or design. When you’re applying to colleges, you can search specifically for colleges that offer urban design programs, or look to see if the colleges you’re interested in offer those programs.
- You can also check the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning – they have a list of schools with urban design programs.
Consider a double major.A double major in urban design and another closely related field can diversify the type of knowledge you have, but also prepare you for specializing in urban planning.
- For example, if you’re interested in environmental planning, consider a double major in urban design and environmental science. Geography, architecture, engineering, and political science are also good second majors.
Do an internship.A one-year internship is usually a requirement for getting your Bachelor’s degree in urban design or planning. If it’s required, your school will likely help you set up the internship through companies they have a preexisting relationship with.
- If your program doesn’t require an internship as a condition for graduating, you still might be able to get one through your school. Go to your school’s career services center and tell them you’re looking for an internship in urban planning or design. They should be able to help you out!
Improve your communication skills.Urban designers work with a lot of different people – other planners, public officials, and engineers – and need to be able to communicate their ideas clearly. If you have a chance to take speech, drama, or English classes, they could help improve your communication skills.
Get your master’s degree with an area of specialization.Higher-level urban design positions usually require a master’s degree. Specialization in a particular area of urban planning, like redevelopment, transportation planning, and or environmental planning is also a bonus.
- It's best to have a few years of experience before you get your master’s degree. You can also earn your degree while you’re working in the field, getting your education and experience at the same time.
Earning Other Credentials
Become certified.Becoming certified might be a job requirement for some listings. But even if it’s not, being certified will help you stand out among other candidates.
- Organizations like the American Institute of Certified Planners or the Royal Society of Civil Engineers require certain educational and experience to become certified.
- Some organizations also offer specialized certifications. If you’re pursuing a job in a specialized field of urban design, a specialized certification can help you stand out.
Check government certification requirements.Some states and countries require that to be an urban designer, you have to be certified through the government. This would be on top of any certification you earned through other organizations, so make sure you know the requirements of where you’re working.
- You can call local government offices - usually the building or development departments - to find out what kind of certification is required. Or you can check governmental websites.
Join a professional organization.Professional organizations offer professional development opportunities, conferences, and special interest divisions that let you create a network with other urban designers with your specific interests.
- Most professional organizations have a "membership" area on their websites, where you can apply for membership. If you join as a student, it's usually free. Otherwise, membership fees are usually based on your income or education level.
Learn GIS.GIS stands for geographic information systems. Learning how to use GIS technology might be part of your formal education, but it might not. If it’s not, you can learn how to use it through free online courses or simply by using it on your own. Being able to tell a potential employer that you know how to use GIS can give you a bit of an edge over other candidates.
- GIS software can be pretty expensive. You can contact a local university to see if they have a GIS lab you can use. Otherwise, you might have to save up to afford the software on your own.
Applying for an Urban Design Job
Prepare your resume.Once you’ve earned your degrees and other credentials, you’ll need to write your resume to apply for jobs. Make sure you list your degrees, with your majors, first. Then include any relevant work experience, including urban design or planning internships. Finally, you should list any other credentials and skills you have.
Look for jobs on professional association websites.Many professional association websites have job boards, where they list current openings in the field. They’re a great resource for finding jobs you might be qualified for.
Sign up for job alerts through job boards.Websites like Indeed or LinkedIn have alert features, where you can sign up to receive an email when a new job in your area of interest gets posted. You can set the notifications to come to you once a day or every time something new gets posted.
- On sites like Indeed, you can post your resume, allowing employers who are looking for employees with your qualifications to find you.
Make direct contact with potential employers.You can directly contact local firms' human resources departments to see if they have any openings. Local government HR departments should be able to tell you if there are openings, and your professors might even have some leads.
Research the organization.Check out the organization's website and read their history and mission statement. Look at recent press releases to see what the organization has been up to and what direction it seems to be going. As you do that, write a list of questions you may have.
Attend your interview prepared.This means dressing appropriately and bringing along materials that you might need during the interview. If you show up prepared and looking professional, you can make a great impression.
- You should dress in business casual attire - a nice shirt, a jacket, and either pants or a skirt. Make sure you iron your clothes if you need to.
- Groom your hair and nails, too. Your overall appearance should look neat.
- Bring a few copies of your resume on nice quality paper, as well as a work portfolio if it's applicable.
Accept the offer that works best for your life.Before you accept an offer, make sure you're getting a salary that works for you. If possible, you should also negotiate your working hours - urban planners spend time in the office and in the field, but that doesn't mean that you should be at work all the time.
QuestionCan an urban designer become an architect?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, if they have a professional architecture degree, work experience as an architectural designer and have taken the licensing exams.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is the difference between an urban planner and an urban designer?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerUrban planning involves the technical side of planning, such as working with architects to decide on the placement of buildings and green spaces. The urban designer designs and shapes the space in question to be attractive and functional for people.Thanks!
Is there an online course on urban design?
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