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How Much Money Do City Planners Make?

by Rick Suttle, studioD

Urban operations and downtown construction wouldn't run as smoothly without city planners, who make short- and long-term plans to revitalize and beautify their cities. They allocate land and buildings for specific uses, run public transportation and manage parking meters, garages and libraries. One of the main goals for these professionals is getting businesses to relocate to their cities, which can increase tax revenues and prestige. If you have management, speaking and communication skills, the job of city planner might be perfect for you. Salaries in this administrative field are above average.

Average Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, lists salary figures for city planners under "Urban and Regional Planners," and reported that they earned average salaries of $67,350 per year in May 2011. If you are among the top 10 percent in earnings, you would make over $80,740 annually. Salaries are highly contingent on experience and the size of the metropolitan area in which you work.

Average Salary by State or District

Average salaries for city planners can vary widely by state, and states with larger metropolitan areas tend to drive those salaries up. City planners earned the highest annual salaries in the District of Columbia -- $90,100, according to the BLS. In this field, you can also earn relatively high salaries in California and Colorado -- $81,640 and $79,300 per year, respectively. However, your salary would be closer to the national average at $65,850 per year if you worked in New York. And you would only make $48,700 per year in Pennsylvania.

Average Salary by Metropolitan Area

In 2011, the highest-paying metropolitan area for city planners was Napa, California at $113,390, according to the BLS. If you worked in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California area, you would earn $92,960 per year. Planners in the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, Massachusetts metropolitan area earned $74,720 annually, while those in Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota-Wisconsin made $65,786 per year.

Education and Training

Most city planners have master's degrees in urban planning. An undergraduate degree in economics, geography, political science or environmental design are good precursors for the master's program, as are backgrounds in public administration and architecture. Most cities prefer that their city planners have one or two years experience in the field for entry-level positions. You can get experience through a college internship, or by working as assistant in public administration.

Career Outlook

Jobs for urban and regional planners, including city planners, are expected to grow 16 percent through 2020, according to the BLS. Most jobs will be spurred by population growth and the need for environmental management programs. Housing and transportation issues can result from large influxes of people, which creates the need for more city planners like you.

About the Author

Rick Suttle has been writing professionally since 2009, covering health and business for various online and print publications. He has worked in corporate marketing research and as a copywriter. Suttle holds a Bachelor of Science in marketing from Miami University and a Master of Business Administration from California Coast University. He is author of the novels "Hell Year" and "Suicide Peak."

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