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What is a planner?

A planner is a specially trained and experienced individual who possesses a unique combination of knowledge and analytical ability, as well as strong communication and presentation skills.

Planners research and gather data from a large variety of sources, recognize various environmental and regulatory constraints, and formulate and analyze various site design scenarios as part of helping clients make informed decisions regarding land development.

Writing and effective verbal skills are an important part of a planner’s role, as presentations are frequently needed to share information with clients, other professional consultants, business groups, neighborhood groups, staff members, advisory board members, and elected officials.  Planners can also be called upon to facilitate meetings and mediate disputes as needed.

Managing people, projects, and processes are all key parts of a planner’s role, along with supplying the disciplined strategic thinking needed to navigate complex processes with multivariable options.

Skills of a successful planner:

(Source: American Planning Association)

  • Understands spatial relationships, physical design, and how cities work
  • Ability to research and analyze information on a wide variety of topics (population, employment, environment, transportation, stormwater, etc.)
  • Master of techniques for involving a wide range of people in making decisions
  • Understanding of local, state and federal government programs and processes
  • Ability to communicate and coordinate with engineers, architects, surveyors, realtors, and a variety of other professional consultants
  • 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 conflicts occur
  • Understanding of the legal foundation for land use regulation
  • Ability to solve problems using a balance of technical competence, creativity and strategical thinking
  • Ability to envision alternative scenarios, identify and weigh advantages and disadvantages, and to develop and pursue win-win solutions when applicable.
  • Understanding of geographic information systems and office productivity software.