What to Study: Urban Planning or Architecture?
by UTEP Connect
If you want to shape the development of a city skyline, you should become an architect, right? While architects do design buildings, urban planners influence entire communities with decisions about how areas are developed and even where buildings can be placed.
So, how do you decide whether urban planning or architecture is the best fit for you? Read on to learn about these two disciplines – what’s different, what’s similar, and how to choose.
What do Urban Planners do?
Urban planners decide how spaces will be used, considering the impact of development for an entire area or region. They evaluate long-term factors, such as demographics and economic trends, and make recommendations for the level of development in an area, what types of buildings can go where, and what infrastructure elements are needed to support growth.
Urban planners look beyond issues that would impact building owners, playing an important role in developing and implementing public policy. Their work involves coordinating closely with a variety of stakeholders, including developers, government officials, policy influencers, permitting bodies, and even architects.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, urban planning has a faster than average projected job growth (13%) and overall median salaries of $71,490. Median salaries for urban planners in the federal government is $94,410.
What do Architects do?
Architects design buildings; landscape architects design the surrounding physical spaces. While architects draw up the plans for new construction, they may also create designs for renovations or repurposing of space within an existing building. Architectural designs focus on the aesthetics or appearance of the building, as well as ensuring functionality, safety, and code compliance.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports slower than average job growth for architects (4%), and a median salary of $78,470 per year.
Can an Architect be an Urban Planner?
Architects looking to expand their skillset can benefit from adding an urban planning credential. The required coursework provides insight into public policy and administration and a different perspective on land-use and siting.
What is the difference between Urban Planning and Architecture?
Urban planners decide what can be built where and how outdoor areas will be used; architects create the actual design. Urban planners focus on the big picture of community needs and the impact on surrounding areas, while architects are primarily concerned with their client’s needs. Both urban planners and architects must ensure that their projects comply with building codes, land use limitations, and other regulations.
A career in architecture requires a bachelor’s degree in architecture, several years of professional experience, completion of the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®), and any other requirements of your local licensing board.
Urban planning careers typically require a master’s degree in urban planning. For those considering a career in urban planning, but not quite ready to commit to earning a master’s degree, a program like UTEP’s Online Graduate Certificate in Urban and Regional Planning provides the core knowledge needed for urban planning roles.
How can you get started on a career as an Urban Planner?
UTEP’s Online Graduate Certificate in Urban and Regional Planning is a 15-semester-hour interdisciplinary program offered completely online through the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program. The curriculum includes core knowledge in economics, demography, law, administration, and technology such as GIS needed for a career in urban or regional planning. Credits for these courses may be applied toward UTEP’s MPA and meet the requirement for a concentration in Urban and Regional Planning.
We invite you to explore our online program and see what it will take to make that next step into your profession. If you are interested in learning more about our team and UTEP Connect’s 100% online master’s and graduate certificate programs, reach out. An enrollment counselor will contact you directly.