Career Trends for Urban Planner Jobs

Urban planner career trends are in a state of flux. This is one of the most complex of all jobs on Earth. Fitting together an urban area is neither simple, nor straightforward. There are multiple issues to be considered, and by definition, "planning" means "planning ahead".

Fundamentals of Planning

Modern urban planning has several fundamental issues which are driving the macro trends of the profession:

  • Infrastructure: Many cities are based on old infrastructure (water supplies, power, and communications) which is in need of remodeling and in many cases replacement. This is a big money problem, and budgets are routinely under stress. Compromise and remodeling on a needs basis are the primary trends.
  • Roads: Traffic overloads, congestion, and costs to revenue systems are forcing a rethink of traffic systems and major re-planning around the world. Commercial freight and distribution volumes are adding to the issues, with related planning requirements affecting road planning in urban areas.
  • Housing and residential needs: Big populations are redefining residential planning and population density issues. The demand placed on cities by populations for which they were never designed is one of the biggest issues facing urban planners.
  • Green space and quality of life: Urban planning includes local aesthetics. Green space is a major consideration in land use. In some countries like the UK, green space areas are compulsory, creating gaps in urban sprawl. In many cities, they're an essential feature, reducing crowding and providing areas for public amenities.
  • Land use: Areas of urban planning like zoning are hotly contested issues in many cities. Urban planners have to both do their jobs and take into account community wishes and interests.
  • Urban redevelopment: Many major cities are rebuilding from the inside out, as obsolete urban environments are replaced. This is both a blessing and a curse to urban planners, involving in many cases complete re-servicing of the new developments on an erratic basis, with old systems and new side by side.
  • Redefinition of social urban needs: These fundamental areas of urban planning trends are not being made any simpler by the fact that technology is redistributing land use. The old commuter society may be on the way out, but it's being replaced by an equally complex demand for redistribution of services, commerce, and land use. Population demographics are an important element in urban planning, and it's unclear how the remodeling of the commercial and employment patterns will affect planning issues.

Career Dynamics

The nature of urban planning work defines the career movements. Urban planning is a highly technical field, and the work requires a continuing interaction with urban authorities, community groups and business interests. The urban planner becomes an experienced adviser and is directly plugged in to all urban issues. An urban planner's career, like their work, is based on a holistic experience which covers all aspects of urban planning. All market and social trends affect urban planning.

The issues outlined above are the defining career trends in urban planning. They also require innovation, which is the urban planner's main problem solving mechanism.  The real career trends of urban planning are all challenges in each of these areas.