How to Become a Parks Planner

How To Become a Parks Planner: Career Guide

In order to become a parks planner, you need a combination of education, the proper skill set and an interest in your community.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to succeed in a career as a parks planner.


We've also included helpful information for a parks planner career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Needed to Become a Parks Planner

Parks planning is a career that requires the application of knowledge from a variety of fields. Because of this, parks planners come from a wide variety of educational backgrounds.


Many parks planners have a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree in planning or a related discipline such as Urban Planning, Engineering, Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Geography, Political Science, Forestry or Economics.


As parks planning can be a very competitive field, some employers may require candidates to have a graduate degree in one of the aforementioned (or other) fields in order to be considered for employment.


Note: Specific educational requirements for getting a job as a parks planner vary by employer.





Experience You May Need

Employers may also require that you have 2-5 years of work experience in a planning or related environment (such as landscape architecture, for example), depending on how relevant your education is. They might downgrade this to merely an 'asset' rather than a 'requirement', depending on the level of responsibility you will have in your job.



Becoming Accredited as a Parks Planner

Parks planners who wish to become Registered Professional Planners must have at least a bachelor's degree in planning and a certain number of years of professional planning experience. To obtain further information about certification and for a list of accredited planning degree programs available across Canada, visit the Canadian Institute of Planners website.



Additional Requirements Needed to Become a Parks Planner

In addition to education and certain personality traits, there are other requirements to becoming a parks planner. For example:


• Must be able to understand main issues that will affect land use in the future, ie demographics, environment, etc.

• Must have a working knowledge of relevant legislation, regulations, and government policies

• Must be able to reconcile opposing interests of various stakeholders

• Bilingualism is an asset in many municipalities

• Must be able to use simple language in order to be persuasive



Parks Planner Salary

There is no reliable and specific information currently available for salary levels of parks planners in Canada, however salary data for closely related occupational groups is available.


According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, those working the in Urban and Land Use Planners occupational group in Alberta earned an average wage of $33.78 to $49.96 an hour. The mean wage for this group was $43.17 an hour.


In the United States, the numbers are slightly different. The U.S Labor and Statistics reports that the median salary for Urban and Regional Planners, which includes parks planners, was $63,040 USD per year as of 2010.


Please Note: Salary levels can vary considerably for parks planners depending on the level of education, who the employer is, and the amount of experience



Parks Planner Job Description

Parks planners are responsible for performing planning and landscape architectural work in the area of park planning. They must also research, analyze and interpret data related to park land use. Park planners may be involved in municipal, regional or national park planning.




Parks Planner Job Duties

• Use computer aided design programs to assist with landscape architectural work

• Assist in the selection of outside contractors and consultants

• Review contract bids

• Oversee the work of outside contractors

• Monitor compliance with insurance requirements related to the work being performed

• Prepare written reports regarding various land use planning matters

• Create site plans for assigned projects

• Speak before public meetings or formal hearings

• Prepare construction specifications for park planning activities

• Participate in the development of design standards and requirements

• Create technical drawings



Skills Needed to Succeed as a Parks Planner

Below is a list of personality traits, skills and attributes you will need to succeed as a parks planner.


Teamwork: Park planners almost always work as part of a team. This team may be composed of other planners, politicians, architects, engineers and other related professionals. Since park planning involves representatives of the general public, their opinion must be in favor of proposed developments, thus they can also be considered part of the team.


Analytical abilities (numbers and data): Park planners must be able to effectively interpret population statistics, resource inventories, geographical and environmental information, as well as economic and social data. Park planners must also be able utilize this data in support of policy and project proposals.


An interest in the environment: Park planners are typically interested in the world around them and the environment. Having a genuine interest in issues such as the best way to preserve trees, wildlife and other natural resources, is the best way to foster effective ideas in these areas.


Able to balance public needs and environmental concern: A crucial element of parks planning is the ability to create a balance between the present and future needs of individuals and the needs of the general public at large without compromising the environment.


Schedule flexibility: Much of a park planner’s job consists of liaising with community members and receiving direction from elected members of council, you will often have to attend meetings in the evenings and weekends.


Conflict management: Not everyone agrees on land use and park planning proposals. Many people are passionate about their neighbourhoods and their city. As a planner you will often face situations where conflicting viewpoints are difficult to reconcile. You must be able to effectively mediate these situations, seek compromise and ultimately make difficult decisions that likely won’t please everyone.



Who Hires Park Planners?

Park planning is a very specialized field, and because of this there are not a wide variety of employers that hire parks planners. According to data from the Canada census in 2006, parks planners find work with the following types of organizations:


• Government (mainly municipal) - 56%

• Professional, Scientific and Technical Services (mainly architectural and engineering) - 27%

• Other - 17%



Working Conditions for Parks Planners

Parks planners typically work in an office environment during normal weekday working hours. These hours may be extended into the evenings or weekends on occasion on order to meet deadlines or attend stakeholder meetings. Park planners must also conduct site visits to proposed development or redevelopment locations.


Park planners often work in teams, and must confer with one another, as well as with representatives from other business units or government departments. They must also be involved in or lead stakeholder meetings, which typically include members of the general public, business representatives and other stakeholders.



Careers Similar to Parks Planner

Listed below are jobs that are similar in nature to that of a parks planner, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Community Planner

Municipal Environmental Coordinator

Natural Resource Policy Analyst

Natural Resources Planner

Transportation Planner

Urban Planner



References: Parks Planner Career

Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a parks planner.



Occupations in Alberta:Community Planner.” (March 9, 2016). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 7, 2020.

Life, Physical, and Social Science:Urban & Regional Planners.” (March 30, 2018). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved January 7, 2020.

Articles:Careers in Planning.” (n.d.). Canadian Institute of Planners website. Retrieved January 7, 2020.

Parks Blog:5 Questions with a Parks Planner.” (November 9, 2016). Ontario Parks website. Retrieved January 7, 2020.



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Scholarships for Becoming a Parks Planner

Scholarships in Canada and the United States listed for majors that apply to becoming a Parks Planner can be found on our All Scholarships by Major page.


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 a Parks Planner: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a parks planner. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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