Running the City: Lesser Known Jobs in Urban Planning
Looming problems such as water shortages and garbage overflowwill make urban planners more vital than they’ve ever been; they’ll need to come up with creative solutions to ensure that remote communities retain access to the things they need to survive, and they’ll have to think of ways to utilize the limited space within cities as populations grow. Urban planners will need to be able to fill many roles, and seeking the less common jobs is a better strategy for job hunters and the whole of society.
Taking care of a community requires more than just providing the right services to households; it requires planners to ensure that people can get to their jobs so they can pay for the services they need. Urban planners are uniquely suited to this line of work because they possess the skills necessary to design the town in the first place; it’s easy for them to think in terms of a large interconnected urban system that needs to serve a lot of people. This role will only become more important as oil supplies dwindleand fuel costs rise; society will no longer be able to function if everything is designed around the assumption of personal car ownership. The world needs bright people to come up with solutions.
Managing digital and analog data may not be a sexy job, but it’s impossible to make progress on key projects without accurate information that’s arranged in a way that makes it easy to access. Records coordinators take over the part of the job that lets other urban planners succeed at what they do, and it’s a perfect chance to utilize a technical skill set in a way that benefits communities.
Sustainability is the hot buzz word right now, and it speaks to a need to implement renewable systems so that cities that thrive today are still thriving 100 years from now. Environmental planners exercise an expertise of renewable energy sources and how they can be utilized within existing infrastructure, and they’re also the ones with the necessary knowledge to deal with problems like excessive heatresulting from global warming.
Urban planners fill necessary roles as land use planners, land use regulators, community planners and international developers. Almost any course on city planning offers some information on the various subfields, but only some of them offer formal recognition. That’s generally not an obstacle for ambitious urban planners, but it’s something to consider when looking for the right program.
The takeaway is this: There are lots of jobs that go beyond the obvious. Urban planning is a complicated discipline that involves far more than making sure that city blocks fit together in a logical way and that buildings are placed at optimal locations. Urban planning deals with the nuts and bolts of what makes cities work, and anyone with a love of systems can find a place for themselves within the field.
Heidi Novak writes about the cities of tomorrow. If you’re interested in helping build those cities but need a flexible schedule, you might want to check out online urban planning degrees and see if they are the right fit for you.