Urban and Land Use Planners
Analytical text 2153 - Urban and Land Use Planners
Type of work
Urban and land use planners develop plans and recommend policies for managing land use, physical facilities and associated services for urban and rural areas and remote regions.
For the full and official description of this occupation according to the National Occupational Classification, visit the NOC site.
Examples of Occupational Titles
- city planner
- community and urban planner
- environmental planner
- land use planner
- long-range planner
- municipal planner
- park planner
- planning analyst
- recreation planner
- regional planner
- urban planner
Job prospects in this occupation are fair.
(Update: December 2011)
Except for a slight slowdown in the mid-90s as a result of government cutbacks, the number of urban and land use planners has grown significantly over the past few years. These changes are mainly due to the increasing complexity of issues related to the use of land, both rural and urban. Because these issues will remain important over the next few years, the number of urban and land use planners should continue to grow significantly.
Sources of employment
Most new employment opportunities will come from employment increase and positions that are vacated by urban and land use planners who retire or change occupations. Experience acquired in this area is useful in getting other jobs that are related to land use planning and in getting promotions to management positions, mainly in public administration.
Employment opportunities are available to people with a bachelor's or master's degree in urban and regional planning. Not many positions will be filled by unemployed urban and land use planners because the unemployment rate is relatively low in this occupation, and by immigrants who satisfy employer requirements, because the proportion of immigrants in this occupation was relatively low in 2006 (5% compared with 12% in all occupations), according to census data.
Although a bachelor's degree in urban and regional planning may be enough to get into this occupation, data from the Relance Survey published by Quebec's Department of Education, Recreation and Sport (MELS) indicate that the master's degree is becoming a more and more important requirement. Usually, a high proportion of graduates of urban planning bachelor programs continue their education, while the job placement rate for bachelor graduates who decide to enter the work force is much lower than the average for university bachelor program graduates. On the other hand, the labour market situation for individuals with a master's degree is very good in this regard, with a comparable job placement rate in their field of training than for the average master's graduate. However, a significant proportion of these jobs in their area of training are not in this occupation. This observation can be corroborated by comparing the data from theOrdre des urbanistes du Québec with that from the MELS. The number of new registrations in the Ordre averages about 45% of the number of new master's graduates in urban and regional planning.
Although growth prospects for this occupation are quite good, the labour market situation of these graduates could deteriorate somewhat over the next few years, while still remaining acceptable. The number of graduates with a bachelor's degree in urban and regional planning almost tripled between 2001 and 2009, while master's graduates doubled. Thus, competition will be stronger for the fewer jobs becoming available.
According to the census data, in 2006 approximately 56% of urban and land use planners were working in public administration, mainly at the municipal level (49%). There were significant numbers in professional, scientific and technical services (27%), mainly in architectural, engineering and related services (21%), an industry that includes planning offices.
Changes in employment in this occupation depend primarily on the demand for urban and land use planning services.
The demand for urban and land use planning rose sharply until the mid-90s. This increase stemmed largely from the movement of people from rural to urban areas, but also from downtown areas to the suburbs. Issues such as population aging, rising awareness of environmental issues and the need to balance economic, cultural and social land uses also started to put pressure on municipalities and other levels of government.
Although these factors were present in the mid-90s, governments' priorities were to balance public finances. Urban and land use planners, like almost all government employees, felt the impact of government cutbacks. The census data reveal a slight decrease in the number of jobs in this occupation between 1991 and 2001, a decrease that was entirely concentrated in public administration, mainly at the municipal level. In the private sector, mainly the professional, scientific and technical services, employment continued to rise quite quickly. Similarly, around 1996 there was a slight decrease in the number of members of theOrdre des urbanistes du Québec. After that, earlier factors once again took over, and the level of employment in this occupation resumed its rise.
The impact of these factors should continue to hold if not gain in importance over the next few years. For instance, the impact of population aging is being felt more and more, whether in terms of housing, mobility or cultural and social life. The consequences of government and private investments in the environment are being discussed more determinedly than ever, both in urban and rural settings. This heating up of the debate can only result in an increase in demand for thorough and reliable analyses aimed at reconciling the frequently diverging interests of residents, businesses and governments. Members of this occupation will certainly benefit from these trends.
In view of these factors, it is expected that the number of urban and land use planners will increase significantly over the next few years. Only the ever-precarious state of public finances could reduce the extent of this increase.
The cases handled by urban and land use planners are becoming more and more complex. Thus, they must frequently work in multidisciplinary teams that include engineers, architects, economists, cartographers, social scientists (geographers, sociologists, etc.) and financial analysts, among others.
Information technology tools help improve and accelerate communications among the members of this occupation and other land use planning partners. Thus, they can communicate in real time and more efficiently dovetail project planning aspects. The Internet helps improve communication among stakeholders, accelerate the work, reduce travel, do research and disseminate information.
According to the census data, in 2006 women held approximately 37% of the positions in this occupation, a level higher than in 1991 (29%). This proportion should continue to rise over the next few years because women constitute between 40% and 50% of new bachelor's and master's graduates in urban and regional planning. Approximately 65% of the members of this occupation worked full time and full year in 2005, which is a much higher proportion than for all occupations (53%). Because most of them worked in public administration in 2006, it is not surprising that there are rather few self-employed people among them (7% compared to 11% for all occupations).
To enter this occupation, candidates are required to understand the main issues that will affect society in the future: economics, demographics, environment, etc. They must also have a good knowledge of legislation, regulations, and government policies and programs. An analytical mind and the ability to summarize, work in teams and know how to reconcile often divergent interests, good communication skills and the ability to use simple language and be persuasive, and a sense of independence, initiative and creativity are all important, sought-after attributes. Bilingualism is an asset.
Education and Training
To enter this occupation, candidates normally require at least a bachelor's degree in urban and regional planning, although the master's degree is more and more frequently required.
Only members of theOrdre des urbanistes du Québec may use the title of urban planner or any other title or abbreviation indicating that this is what they do. Ordre admission requirements are described on its website (french only).
- Ordre des urbanistes du Québec
- Association des urbanistes et aménagistes municipaux du Québec
- Association des aménagistes régionaux du Québec
- Association québécoise d'urbanisme
In view of the increasingly complex nature of rural and urban land use issues, the number of urban and land use planners should increase significantly over the next few years.
While it may still be possible to enter this occupation with a bachelor's degree in urban and regional planning, the master's degree is becoming a more and more important requirement. The labour market situation for master's graduates is very good, but could deteriorate somewhat over the next few years because of the significant increase in the number of students in master's in urban and regional planning programs.
Statistics 2153 - Urban and Land Use Planners
Main Labour Market Indicators
|Main Labour Market Indicators||Unit Group 2153||All occupations|
|Employment, average 2008-2010||1,350||3,881,300|
|EI Claimants in 2010||25||109,850|
|Average Annual Growth Rate 2011-2015||1.4%||0.8%|
|Annual Employment Variation 2011-2015||20||32,500|
|Annual Attrition 2011-2015||20||71,750|
|Total Annual Needs 2011-2015||40||104,250|
Employment Distribution by Gender
|Employment Distribution by Gender||Unit Group 2153||All occupations|
Employment Distribution by Age
|Employment Distribution by Age||Unit Group 2153||All occupations|
|15 - 24 years||5.9%||14.1%|
|25 - 44 years||56.7%||45.1%|
|45 - 64 years||36.2%||38.8%|
|65 years and over||1.2%||2.0%|
Employment Distribution by Status
|Employment Distribution by Status||Unit Group 2153||All occupations|
Average Annual Employment Income
|Average Annual Employment Income
|Unit Group 2153||All occupations|
|50000$ and over||50.3%||31.1%|
Employment Distribution by Highest Level of Schooling
|Employment Distribution by
Highest Level of Schooling
|Unit Group 2153||All occupations|
|Less than high-school||2.0%||14.1%|
Employment Distribution by Region
|Employment Distribution by Region||Unit Group 2153||All occupations|
|Côte-Nord-Nord du Québec||2.6%||1.7%|
|Employment Distribution||Unit Group 2153||All occupations|
|Employment Distribution||Unit Group 2153||All occupations|
Main Areas of Employment
|Main Areas of Employment||Percentage|
|Professional, Scientific and Technical Services||27.1%|
|Architectural, Engineering and Related Services||21.2%|
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