Capital Planners

Capital Planning involves budgeting resources for the future long-term plans of an organization, government division/agency, or company. In terms of urban planning, we usually see Capital Planners involved in planning the management of a city’s strategic resources. Without Capital Planners, the plans made by Urban and Regional Planners could not be carried out – it takes money and resources to be able to bring plans to fruition.

Capital Planners usually work with Capital Improvement Plans, documents that are used to assess and guide the long-term capital requirements of a government entity (like a city or municipality). This also helps to establish funding of the most high-priority projects within that municipality. A Capital Improvement Plan may be designed or modified by Capital Planners. This plan holds public policy makers accountable to residents and businesses within the municipality, by stating exactly how public funds will be used to improve the municipality through capital projects. Capital Improvement Plans are typically forecast within a three- to five-year range.

The Government Finance Officers Association sets recommendations and best practices for Capital Improvement Plans for cities and municipalities across the country. They recommend that municipalities, including state and local government, prepare multi-year capital plans and link the capital budget to that plan. Larger cities have plans for each “major capital bureau” within the city – i.e., environmental services, parks and recreation, education, police, fire and rescue and more.

If you wish to explore the ins and outs of the interesting and challenging job of a Capital Planner, please keep reading.

Job Duties of a Capital Planner

In urban planning, Capital Planners typically work for local or state government jurisdictions. Their job duties can include:

  • Prioritize capital investments of the jurisdiction
  • Strategically allocate federal, state, and city capital resources to support the Capital Improvement Plan
  • Preparing grant applications
  • Assist in preparation of City Comprehensive Plan
  • Provides cost/benefit studies, financial analysis, and other analyses that support capital planning
  • Develop a capital investment strategy
  • Prepare materials for Capital Improvement Plan
  • Provide advice and guidance to the public and other officials on development proposals and interpretation of adopted plans
  • Draft and modify Capital Improvement Plan
  • Prepare and issue project charters for every funded capital project
  • Use GIS software as needed to produce maps
  • Attend meetings with other government officials and the public as required

Skills a Capital Planner Should Possess

  • Knowledge of principles of urban and regional planning, including economics and statistics
  • Leadership skills
  • Thorough knowledge of federal, state and local laws and regulations
  • Good research and analytical skills
  • Good oral and written communication skills
  • Familiarity with computer software, including programs such as GIS

Work Hours for Capital Planners

Capital Planners generally work Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Occasional meetings may be held in the evenings and on weekends, outside of normal business hours.

Education for Capital Planners

Capital Planners should possess at least a bachelor’s degree in an urban planning field, such as urban and regional planning, urban studies, and public policy and administration. A thorough knowledge of and education in economics and finance is also helpful to Capital Planners. Some employers prefer to hire candidates who have a master’s degree.

Certification for Capital Planners

The American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) of the American Planning Association provides certification for Capital Planners.  A degree and experience is required in order to take their certification examination. Many employers will not hire Capital Planners who do not hold AICP certification.

Settings in Which Capital Planners Work

As mentioned above, Capital Planners in urban planning work for municipalities, cities, states and sometimes at the federal level. Examples of potential employers of Capital Planners include (but are not limited to):

  • National Capital Planning Commission
  • New York City Capital Planning Division
  • Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission
  • Arlington County, Virginia
  • New York Capital District Regional Planning Commission

Salaries for Capital Planners

Capital Planners are included within the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) occupational classification of Urban and Regional Planners.  Their average annual salary, as of May 2019, was $77,750.

Job Outlook for Capital Planners

The BLS says that Capital Planners can expect an increase in job opportunities throughout the next decade.  Between 2018 and 2028, employment for Capital Planners is projected to increase by 11.1 percent.