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Architectural Planner: Career Summary

The term architectural planning can refer to the job tasks performed by architects or urban planners. An architect works on the concept, design and construction of structures. An urban planner coordinate's a community's layout.

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Job Duties of an Architect and Urban Planner

An architect designs structures for human use, such as office buildings or residential complexes. They ensure that a structure is safe and functional.

An urban planner studies the issues affecting a community and make recommendations about where buildings, public utilities and other structures should be located. They work with local governments and officials to ensure that a community's land is used as best as possible.

Education Requirements

To work as an architect, every state requires that an individual graduate from an architectural program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board, complete an internship after graduation and pass the Architect Registration Exam (ARE). However, each state establishes licensure requirements separately, so additional requirements may be necessary depending on the individual's residence.

Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in architecture are available. A bachelor's degree program may last five years. Master's degree programs are available as a Master of Architecture (M.Arch) and a Master of Science (M.S.) in Architecture. The former of these programs prepares students for architectural practice, while the latter does not. Doctoral programs in architecture are research oriented and prepare students for teaching or scholarship.

The required internship, referred to as the 'Intern Development Program', lasts three years. Its components are established by the American Institute of Architects and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.

The ARE exam consists of nine parts. Each state independently determines the length of time an individual has to pass each part.

The majority of planners have master's degrees in the field. Degree options include a Master of Community Planning (MCP) or a dual M.Arch and MCP program. These programs may be accredited by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning or the American Planning Association. MCP programs require two years of study, while dual programs take longer to complete. Doctoral programs in urban and regional planning and design are also available. These programs prepare students to teach.

Licensure is not required to work as an urban or regional planner. Voluntary certification is available through the American Institute of Certified Planners.

Career Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expected employment opportunities for architects to increase 24% over the 2010-2020 decade (www.bls.gov). The BLS also stated that, in 2012, there were 82,720 architects in the nation. These professionals earned a median annual salary of $73,090 in May 2012.

The BLS anticipates job opportunities to grow 16% for urban and regional planners during the years 2010-2020. The BLS reported in 2012 that urban and regional planners earned $65,230 as a median annual wage.

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