What Skills Do Planners Need?

Skills of Successful Planners

In addition to a formal educational background, planners possess a unique combination of skills that enhance their professional success.

Because planning is a dynamic and diverse profession, individual skills vary depending on a planner's role and area of specialization, but successful planners typically demonstrate the following:

  • Knowledge of urban spatial structure or physical design and the way in which cities work.
  • Ability to analyze demographic information to discern trends in population, employment, and health.
  • Knowledge of plan-making and project evaluation.
  • Mastery of techniques for involving a wide range of people in making decisions.
  • Understanding of local, state, and federal government programs and processes.
  • Understanding of the social and environmental impact of planning decisions on communities.
  • Ability to work with the public and articulate planning issues to a wide variety of audiences.
  • Ability to function as a mediator or facilitator when community interests conflict.
  • Understanding of the legal foundation for land use regulation.
  • Understanding of the interaction among the economy, transportation, health and human services, and land-use regulation.
  • Ability to solve problems using a balance of technical competence, creativity, and hardheaded pragmatism.
  • Ability to envision alternatives to the physical and social environments in which we live.
  • Mastery of geographic information systems and office software.