Canadian Institue Of Planners

Shaping our Communities
Sustaining Canada's Future.

Lunenberg, Nova Scotia

Becoming a Planner


What is planning?

Planning means the scientific, aesthetic, and orderly disposition of land, resources, facilities and services with a view to securing the physical, economic and social efficiency, health and well-being of urban and rural communities.

Responsible planning has always been vital to the sustainability of safe, healthy and secure urban environments. As Canada's population grows, the planning profession must deal with pressures and impacts of urbanization: for instance, the conversion of land from natural habitats to urban built areas, the maintenance and use of natural resources and habitats, environmental protection and the development and renewal of major infrastructure.

What do planners do?

Planners' activities include designating land use, designing social and community services, managing cultural and heritage resources, creating economic capacity in local communities and addressing transportation and infrastructure.

Planners may work for the public or the private sector—but ultimately their work always touches on public policy. They balance various private interests with the public interest and identify viable options.

Planners work for the public good, taking health, aesthetics, equity and efficiency into consideration. Planning respects the land as a community resource, contributing to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, and promoting healthy communities and improvements to quality of life.

To meet increasingly complex urban challenges, planners need to know about land, air and water resources, employment trends, cultural diversity and associated issues, new technologies, and conflict resolution.

As a planner, you may:

  • recommend policy and guidelines on land use, environmental conservation, housing, and transportation;
  • prepare reports on demographic, economic, cultural, social and environmental issues;
  • review proposals for development to ensure that they follow regulations and generally accepted planning practice;
  • prepare plans for developing private lands, providing public spaces and services and maintaining and improving the environment; and
  • consult with landowners, interest groups and citizens.


What are planners' employment prospects?

Currently there are employment opportunities for graduates of planning schools in the public and private sector of many municipalities across Canada. Please view the current employment opportunities on our website for an idea of what compensation you can expect in your province.

External link: I want to be an urban planner. What will my salary be? (Globe and Mail, November 14, 2013).

How do I become a planner?

Achieving certification as a professional planner requires first becoming a Candidate member through one of three routes, depending on an individual’s situation and background:

  • Earning a university degree from a planning program accredited by CIP or the American Planning Accreditation Board
  • A Prior Learning Assessment Recognition that shows a requisite amount of experience, competency and knowledge
  • Reciprocal Professional Membership, for professionals accredited by the American Institute of Certified Planners in the United States, the Royal Town Planning Institute in the United Kingdom, and the Planning Institute of Australia in Australia.
For further information on these three routes to professional planning accreditation, see the descriptions on the website of the Professional Standards Board (PSB).

The PSB manages the process of accrediting university planning degree programs across Canada, except in Quebec. For current information on accredited planning programs, consult the PSB website. In Quebec, planning programs are accredited by the l’Ordre des urbanistes de Québec (OUQ); see their website for a list of programs.