Sustained by a burgeoning need to further develop revitalization initiatives that address such magnifying concerns as population growth and resource shortages, job prospects for urban and regional planners are flourishing. In Los Angeles, these specialists earn an average annual salary of more than $48,000, according to current economic data. Experts say planners can expect their vital duties to expand in the coming years.

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Richard Willson)

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Richard Willson)

“Planners’ roles in addressing climate change, housing affordability and environmental constraints will increase,” said Dr. Richard Willson, a professor and chair of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona). “Planners will broaden their work to include the public, private, and non-profit sectors.”

How are you preparing the next generation of planners?

“Cal Poly Pomona provides accredited bachelor’s and master’s degrees in urban and regional planning, with a learn-by-doing educational approach.”

How are you improving an aspiring planner’s marketability?

“The department has excellent ties with the profession and has an alumni network that helps pave the way for graduates. The department and its students provide mentoring, job search advice, firm tours, interview practice, and internship experiences.”

What defines a keen planner?

“An astute urban planner is a person who combines the technical skills of urban and regional planning with an ability to make change in community and political settings. Planners focus on making cities more efficient, equitable, sustainable and livable.”

What is the best way for planners to prepare for a sustainable career in this field?

“I advise them to attend an accredited planning degree program, have a commitment to the public good, and a sense of humor.”

What is your message to aspiring urban and regional planners?

“Planning is a field that provides an opportunity to make the world a better place while making a living. It can provide an individual with a meaningful career, one where they can look back after a few decades and say they were part of the solution, not part of the problem. Planning requires passion and patience, because planning recommendations are not always popular or adopted, but the long-term payoffs are great.”

Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist who covers topics of social interest in greater Los Angeles. Some news articles she has authored have been archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Sharon also contributes to Examiner.com.

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