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Ever consider a career in planning? The American Planning Association can help you get started.

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For most of us, planning means looking ahead on our calendars and figuring out when we’re going to do things. For a small group of people, planning goes much further into the future, and is far more important. These people are… wait for it… planners! They’re the people who achieve physical, economic, and social outcomes through the design of communities (you may know it as urban planning, city planning, or regional planning). The American Planning Association is the professional institute for planners. They’re located in Washington, DC, and they “s together thousands of people — practicing planners, citizens, elected officials — committed to making great communities happen.” If you’re still not exactly sure what planning is you may not be a good fit for their jobs, but you still may want to read their What Is Planning? document. And if you’re really curious, you may also want to read Becoming a Planner too.

Career Planning

Good planning isn’t something that most people notice like they might notice good architecture. However, there’s a very good chance that you’ve been frustrated by the effects of poor (or out of date) planning. The job of a planner is to “help create a broad vision for the community.” So a planner may be expected to do any of the following:

research, design, and develop programs; lead public processes; effect social change; perform technical analyses; manage; and educate. Some planners focus on just some of these roles, such as transportation planning, but most will work at many kinds of planning throughout their careers.

The APA exists to help promote the profession of planning and to provide education and leadership. They’ve been around since 1978, and they now have more than 40,000 members. Interestingly enough, the APA doesn’t seem to have it’s own Jobs page, though they do have an entire Careers section on their website for people interested in careers related to planning. I found the APA’s job listings on Idealist. Right now they’re looking for a Program Associate – International Outreach and Professional Development. They seem to want someone with a Master’s in Planning, but the requirements for previous work experience are pretty slim.

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