California Occupational Guides

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Summary Guide for

   Urban and Regional Planners in California

May also be called: City Planners; Community Development Directors; Community Development Planners; Neighborhood Planners; Planners; Planning Directors; Regional Planners; Sustainability Planners; Urban Planners

What Would I Do?

Urban and Regional Planners* develop long-term and short-term plans for land use and the growth and revitalization of urban, suburban, and rural communities and the regions in which they are located. They assist local officials by forecasting future needs and developing plans for roads, schools, parks, shopping centers, recommended zoning regulations, and other infrastructure needs. Most Planners focus on one or more areas of specialization, such as transportation planning, urban design, community development and redevelopment, and land-use or code enforcement.

Green Economy: Urban and Regional Planners will play an important role in the emerging green economy. They will assist with the education, compliance, and awareness of governmental/legislative compliance, and conservation and wildlife programs.

Urban and Regional Planners often travel to inspect the features of land under consideration for development or regulation. Some local government Planners involved in site development inspections spend most of their time in the field. Planners spend time in an office setting preparing environmental documents, such as those required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), in order for projects to be started and completed. Although most Planners have a scheduled 40-hour workweek, they frequently attend evening or weekend meetings or public hearings with citizens’ groups. Urban Planners may experience the pressure of deadlines and tight work schedules, as well as political pressure generated by interest groups affected by proposals related to urban development and land use.

*This product was partially funded by a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment & Training Administration. The information contained in this product was created by a grantee organization and does not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Labor. All references to non-governmental companies or organizations, their services, products, or resources are offered for informational purposes and should not be construed as an endorsement by the Department of Labor. This product is copyrighted by the institution that created it and is intended for individual organizational, non-commercial use only.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Urban and Regional Planner may appeal to those who enjoy working with ideas that require an extensive amount of thinking.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

The median wage in 2020 for Urban and Regional Planners in California is $93,340 annually, or $44.87 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

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Annual Wages for 2020Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2020 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
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Urban and Regional Planners generally receive health insurance, a pension plan, vacation, sick leave, and holidays. The type of benefit package is determined by company policy or union contract.

What is the Job Outlook?

Employment growth is projected for Urban and Regional Planners. Most new jobs will be in affluent, rapidly expanding communities. Job prospects will be best for those with a master's degree; bachelor's degree holders with additional skills in geographic information systems (GIS) or mapping may find entry-level positions, but advancement opportunities are limited. The emerging green economy should give those Urban and Regional Planners with knowledge of sustainability an enhanced opportunity for employment.

How Do I Qualify?

The majority of Urban and Regional Planners are required to have a master’s degree in urban and regional planning or a related field. Employers may be willing to substitute the possession of a master’s degree with relevant experience. Urban and regional planning students are often required to participate in regional planning internship programs in order to gain valuable work experience.

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. College placement offices, company recruiting events, job fairs, and online job search sites are also good places to look. Career associations sometimes offer job openings on their Web sites. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Learn More About Urban and Regional Planners