Career Opportunities

Career Opportunities

What do Planners do?

Planners use the term planning to cover primarily "land use planning". Although there are many other types of planners, the professional institutes, Canadian Institute of Planning (CIP), and the Planning Institute of BC (PIBC), focus on the development of towns, cities, and rural areas. Though planners are concerned with much more than the use of land, the provincial legislation that permits planning in BC, the Local Government Act, includes the responsibility for making Official Community Plans and the Zoning Bylaws.

Planners can be required to undertake a wide variety of work. For most planning departments in local municipalities this includes:

  • The regulation of development
  • The creation of planning policies and bylaws
  • The preparation of long-term plans for the municipality or neighbourhoods
  • The preparation of specialist plans, such as housing plans, heritage plans, and transportation plans.

The majority of planners work either for a municipality or planning consultants. Other employers include provincial ministries or other government agencies, such as the Ministry of Transportation and Highways, the Agricultural Land Commission and BC Assessment.

What do Planning Assistants and Planning Technicians do?

Planning assistants are, typically, the first jobs program graduates will work in. The work involves providing technical information and assistance to the public, and other planning colleagues and can include research, processing development applications, reviewing and interpreting bylaws, and preparing planning-related communication materials.

Planning technicians take on more complex work than planning assistants which requires more experience. In some municipalities the term planning technician suggests someone who works on specialist technical issues, especially involving the use of computers.

Most planning assistants and planning technicians would be expected to be proficient in the use of basic computer programs, such as Microsoft Word and Excel. They would likely also need to be familiar with graphics software and desktop publishing software. More specialized computer applications include Geographic Information Systems software (GIS), such as ArcGIS (Arc View). The Langara Applied Planning Program has two GIS courses as part of the diploma requirement.

Planning assistants and planning technicians, especially those working for municipalities, are also expected to have a fundamental understanding of B.C.’s planning legislation that permits planning. The Langara Applied Planning Program has Planning Law & Process course as part of the diploma requirement.

Some planning assistants and planning technicians may also use Computer Assisted Drafting (CAD) programs, such as AutoCAD. These are used for drawing subdivision layouts, site plans or architectural and engineering drawings.

What skills and education are required to work in Planning?

Planning is a diverse profession. Planners must be able to address a wide range of issues and projects. It is a good idea to get as much experience as possible in different types of planning in the initial stages of a planning career. Most planners tend to specialize later in their careers.

Starting out looking for work in planning you may find that the requirements in job advertisements include the following:

  • Knowledge of planning theory and techniques
  • An understanding of short and long-range planning Subdivision design skills
  • Excellent written and oral communications skills
  • Knowledge of planning procedures in the local area
  • Research skills
  • Presentation skills for public displays and reports
  • Ability to work effectively in teams with other professionals and paraprofessionals
  • Ability to work well with the public as planning assistants are often required to work at inquiry desks and are the first people to meet the public.

How can I find out more about jobs for Planning Assistants and Planning Technicians?

Check the website of the Canadian Association of Certified Planning Technicians for more specifics.

CACPT members are mostly located in Ontario. For information on jobs for planning assistants in BC, you may need to check the websites of local municipalities.

Where do Planning Assistants and Planning Technicians work?

Program graduates work in a range of places, including federal, provincial, and municipal governments, consulting firms, and non-profit organizations. The program has a 95% plus post-diploma employment rate, with many program graduates moving into planner, supervisory, and management roles within their organizations over time.