How to Become an Urban Planning Technician
To become an urban planning technician, you will likely need a two year diploma or an associate’s degree in urban planning, construction management, architectural technology, GIS, engineering technology, or a similar field. You may also need experience working in a planning environment.
Being an urban planning technician would involve providing technical assistance and information to staff and the public in the administration of specific planning programs areas or ordinances, as well as performing a lot of administrative duties, as well as preparing maps, charts, and communications documents of limited complexity.
Carrying out these responsibilities will require the interpersonal skills and comfort to work with other internal departments and the general public, as well as the ability to take direction from senior staff.
This field also offers a comfortable office environment, normal weekday working hours with occasional overtime, and good pay.
So, if becoming an urban planning technician sounds like it might suit you, then read on below; we’ll tell you what you'll need to make it in this field!
Education and Experience You’ll Need
Although the specific field of study may vary based on the preference of each individual employer, or on regional-specific certification requirements, the typical minimum education required for becoming a planning technician is the completion of an associate's degree or two year diploma in any of the following fields:
• Urban planning
• Architectural technology
• Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
• Construction management
• Engineering technology
• Numerous similar fields
Employers may also require that you have 2-5 years of work experience in a planning environment, depending on how relevant your education is. They might downgrade this to merely an 'asset' rather than a 'requirement', depending on the amount and quality of resumes they receive for the job.
Certification You May Need
Most employers will require that you have member status, or eligibility to become a member in your state or province’s Planning Institute.
Eligibility requirements can vary by region, but typically include completion of a relevant education program and/or completion of a certain number of in-field working hours, as well as the passing of an examination. Please check with your local Institute for specific criteria.
Typical Knowledge You Will Need
You will need knowledge in the following areas in order to work as an urban planning technician. If it seems intimidating, worry not, you will have the opportunity to gather this knowledge if you pursue on of the educational programs listed in the "Education You'll Need" section (above).
• Knowledge of planning principles and practices, including pertinent specialties
• Knowledge of principles and practices of research and data collection
• Knowledge of effective writing techniques
• Statistical, algebraic or geometric knowledge and ability to apply such knowledge in practical situations
• Knowledge of computer hardware and software programs, which may include Microsoft Office, Internet applications, and GIS
Who Creates Jobs for Urban Planning Technicians?
You could find employment with the following types of organizations, as they are the ones that typically hire urban planning technicians:
• Municipal governments (such as towns, counties, cities, etc.)
• Provincial/state government department
• Federal government departments and agencies
• Architectural, engineering and related consulting companies
• Land development companies
• Large corporations in resource and utility industries
• Organizations such as economic development authorities
Urban Planning Technician Job Opportunities
Urban Planning Jobs - Canada
Urban Planning Jobs - United States
Is This Career Right for You?
No matter what stage of your career development you’re at, you should have the following attributes if you hope to one day become an urban planning technician:
• An interest in an administration-heavy job, that also offers a variety of other tasks
• Comfort with giving public presentations
• Comfort with having considerable interaction with the public, staff from other departments and development businesses
• The ability to take direction from senior staff
• An interest in a 9-5 style career with good pay
• Willing to exercise initiative and judgment to ensure work meets required standards
Details of the Career: General Job Description
As an urban planning technician, you would work closely with the public and other stakeholders (such as development companies and businesses) to provide customer service on urban and land-use planning issues.
You would work under the general supervision of urban planners and perform a variety of para-professional and professional tasks related to technical planning assignments.
General Job Duties
Although the specific duties you would perform can vary from job to job, you could generally expect to perform duties similar to the following as an urban planning technician:
• Providing technical assistance and information to staff and the public in the administration of specific planning programs areas or ordinances
• Reviewing building plans and zoning permit applications to assure compliance with requirements such as use, bulk, placement, and parking ratios
• Performing routine office tasks in designated program areas, including data entry, file management, copying and answering the telephone
• Researching and compiling information on a variety of planning issues from multiple sources
• Preparing public notices or property owner verifications
• Preparing maps, charts, tables and communications materials of limited complexity
• Investigating violations of planning regulations and ordinances, including site visits
• Attending public meetings, assisting other planning staff as appropriate
• Performing planner-level tasks of limited complexity
• Giving direction to, and supervising the work of planning assistants
Typical Salary for Urban Planning Technicians
The salary level you could earn as an urban planning technician can vary, typically depending on the following factors:
• Your professional qualifications (your level of relevant education, experience, etc.)
• The size and budget of your employer
• The region in which you work
• The scope of your job duties and functions
• The type of remuneration package you are offered (such as if you are entitled to bonuses, financial benefits, etc.)
Urban Planning Technician Salary in Canada: According to a salary survey conducted by Glassdoor, the average salary level of Canadians working as Planning Technicians is $64,800 per year. This data is based on 41 salary survey respondents.
Typical Work Environment
Work Setting: You would spend a large amount of your time working in a general office environment, although you may be required to work outside (which could include working in inclement weather) to perform some job duties.
Working Hours: Your work would mostly take place during normal, weekday working hours, although you would also be required to work evenings and weekends on occasion, in order to attend meetings and meet deadlines.
Working Conditions: This work would involve considerable contact and interaction with the public, business and development industries, staff from other civic departments, and various regulatory agencies. You would receive general direction from a professional planner or supervisor, and you would be expected to work independently; exercising initiative and judgment to ensure work meets required standards for quality and is completed on schedule. More difficult and unusual circumstances may be taken to a superior for guidance and/or resolution.
Careers Similar to ‘Urban Planning Technician’
Listed below are occupations in our database that have similar responsibilities, and/or require similar skills, or are in the same sector of industry, as Urban Planning Technician:
References for this Career Guide
The following resources were drawn from in the preparation of this How to Become an Urban Planning Technician career guide:
• “Urban and Regional Planning Technician - Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Diploma - 406.” (n.d.). Mohawk College: Engineering Technology Programs. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
• “Planning Technician II.” (n.d.). The City of Edmonton: Classification Specification. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
• “Planning Technician Salaries.” (May, 2015). Glassdoor. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
• “Planning Technician.” (n.d.). American Planning Association: Career Center. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
• “College Programs.” (n.d.). Canadian Association of Certified Planning Technicians. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
Scholarships for Becoming an Urban Planning Technician
The Applicable Majors section below shows fields of study relevant to a career as an urban planning technician. You can search for scholarships matched to that/those fields of study on the following pages:
Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!
Becoming an Urban Planning Technician: Applicable Majors
Studying one of the college/university majors listed below can be helpful (or necessary) for becoming an urban planning technician. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!