How to Become an Urban Planner in Connecticut

Connecticut MapUrban planners working in the metropolitan areas of Bridgeport/Stamford/Norwalk Connecticut make higher than average salaries, according to data compiled by planning website  As of May 2019, their average annual salary was $83,110. The metropolitan areas of Norwich/New London/Westerly CT-RI weren’t far behind, with their urban planners bringing home $81,550 annually. The average salary nationally for an urban planner at that time, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was $77,750.  So these Connecticut urban planners were making substantially more than average.

Becoming an urban planner in Connecticut should be motivated by more than just financial gain, of course. Urban planning can be a rewarding career as you help to design the spaces in which people live. You will work closely with government officials at various levels, architects, and the public to figure out the best land usage in urban, rural, and suburban areas of the state.

There couldn’t be a better time to become an urban planner in Connecticut than right now. CTPost reported in 2019 that Connecticut was experiencing a shortage of urban planners, partly due to the fact that the state is one of just 15 in the nation with no accredited graduate-level urban planning degree programs. Municipalities in Connecticut were having trouble filling planning positions that had been open for six months or more.

There are ways that you can still become an urban planner in Connecticut, despite the lack of accredited programs.  If you are interested in becoming an urban planner in Connecticut and helping to fill the shortage, read on.

Connecticut Salaries for Urban Planners

As referred to above, certain metropolitan areas in Connecticut were quite lucrative for urban planners who worked there as of May 2019. While the state average salary for urban planners in Connecticut was $78,110, examples of urban planner salaries among Connecticut’s metropolitan areas include:

  • Bridgeport $83,110
  • East Hartford $81,110
  • Hartford $81,110
  • Milford $84,205
  • New Haven $75,330
  • New London $81,550
  • Norwalk $83,110
  • Norwich $81,550
  • Stamford $83,110
  • West Hartford $81,110
  • Westerly $81,550

Land Use and Urban Planning Laws in Connecticut

As in most states, land use in Connecticut is regulated primarily at the local governmental levels. Each municipality is responsible for managing its own development and land use. This is accomplished through Planning and Zoning Commissions. Planning Commissions regulate the division of parcels of land into multiple lots through establishing and administering subdivision regulations. They also have responsibility to develop the municipality’s plan of conservation and development. The zoning commission develops and adopts zoning regulations for the municipality, in accordance with statutory requirements. These establish zoning districts and standards of reach district. Some towns have combined zoning and planning commissions

Coastal Management in Connecticut

Connecticut has many coastal communities. Within these communities, the local government’s municipal planning and zoning commissions must also implement the Connecticut Coastal Management Act.  Commissions must determine whether a proposed land use or development is consistent with coastal policies and standards, and whether its potential adverse impacts on coastal resources and future water-dependent development activities are acceptable.

Tidal Wetlands Buffers Guidance

Another concern for Connecticut’s planners is protecting tidal wetlands. Planners within affected areas are instructed on the value of vegetated buffers to protect tidal wetlands from the negative effects of upland development. Tidal wetlands in Connecticut are found near Long Island Sound. They provide habitats for shorebirds, a nursery area for estuarine-dependent oceanic species, and habitats for shellfish.

Local planners are educated on using vegetated buffers to protect tidal wetlands, in between the wetlands and adjacent upland development. There are certain activities that are absolutely prohibited within the vegetated buffer area, such as:

  • New building construction that increases the building area or footprint
  • Detached accessory buildings
  • Pools, tennis courts, patios, terraces
  • Driveways, parking areas
  • Impervious surfaces
  • Seawalls, bulkheads, landscaping walls and retaining walls
  • Grading, excavation, filling, constructing new septic systems
  • Land clearing
  • Dumping of lawn clippings and wastes
  • Applying fertilizers and pesticides unless necessary to address a public health issue and approved by the State Department of Health Services

Brownfields and Urban Sites

Under the Connecticut General Statutes, a brownfield is defined as “any abandoned or under-utilized site where redevelopment, reuse or expansion hasn’t occurred because of the presence/potential presence of pollution.” The process of assessing and cleaning up brownfields in Connecticut is undertaken by the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection’s Remediation Division. The state may fund some brownfield cleanup programs and provide liability relief to non-responsible property owners or purchasers who have made a good faith effort to remediate/redevelop brownfields. Redevelopment of brownfield sites has the following benefits to the environment and humans living near them:

  • Reduces/eliminates exposure to pollutants
  • Cleans up sits that otherwise wouldn’t be cleaned up for decades
  • Reduces environmental impacts associated with industrial sprawl
  • Creates potential for new tax revenue for municipalities and the state
  • Utilizes existing infrastructure and minimizes expansion of new infrastructure into undeveloped areas
  • Reverses urban decay and revitalizes cities
  • Creates short-term construction and long-term jobs

Obtaining an Urban Planning Education in Connecticut

Undergraduate Urban Planning Degree in Connecticut

You must start by earning an undergraduate degree in a field related to urban planning if you aspire to become an urban planner in Connecticut. Usually, it is recommended that you attend a program that holds accreditation through the  Planning Accreditation Board of the American Planning Association. No accredited programs exist in Connecticut, however. Consider these alternatives:

Non-PAB-accredited program in Connecticut:

  • Central Connecticut State University, New Britain – Bachelor of Arts in Geography with Specialization in Planning

Non-PAB-accredited programs (but recommended by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning) in nearby New York, such as:

  • State University of New York at Albany – Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Major in Urban Studies and Planning
  • Cornell University, Ithaca – Bachelor of Science in Planning, Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Studies
  • University at Buffalo, the State University of New York – Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Design

Non-PAB-accredited programs (but recommended by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning) in nearby Massachusetts, like:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge – Bachelor of Science in Planning (with specializations available in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning, Regional Development and Public Policy, and Urban Society, History and Politics)
  • University of Massachusetts Boston – Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and Sustainability
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst – Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Community Development or Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture

Graduate Urban Planning Degree in Connecticut

Connecticut does not house any PAB-accredited graduate programs in urban planning. Instead, consider these options:

  • University of Southern Maine, Portland – Master of Community Planning and Development

Specializations available in Land Use & Environment, Community & Economic Development, Health Planning

(Connecticut students qualify for reduced fees per credit hour)

(Not PAB-accredited but is recommended by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning)

Muskie School of Public Service

96 Falmouth St., P.O. Box 9300

Portland, ME 04104-9300



These programs in nearby Massachusetts hold PAB accreditation:


  • Harvard University – Master in Urban Planning

Graduate School of Design, Department of Urban Planning and Design

Gund Hall 312, 48 Quincy St.

Cambridge, MA 02138

Accreditation through December 31, 2026

Ann Forsyth, Program Director



  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Master in City Planning

School of Architecture & Planning, Dept of Urban Studies & Planning

77 Massachusetts Ave. – Room 7-337

Cambridge, MA 02139

Accreditation through December 31, 2020

Eran Ben-Joseph, Department Head



  • Tufts University – Master of Arts in Environmental Policy & Planning; Master of Science in Environmental Policy & Planning

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, Dept of Urban & Environmental Policy & Planning

97 Talbot Ave

Medford, MA 02155

Accreditation through December 31, 2025

Mary Davis, Chair



  • University of Massachusetts at Amherst – Master of Regional Planning

College of Social & Behavioral Sciences, Dept of Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning

210 Design Bldg, 551 N Pleasant St.

Amherst, MA 01003-2901

Accreditation through December 31, 2026

Mark Hamin, Program Director



Or you might want to consider PAB-accredited programs in neighboring New York:


  • Columbia University, New York – Master of Science in Urban Planning

Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation

1172 Amsterdam Ave, 413c Avery Hall

New York, NY 10027

Accreditation through December 31, 2021

Weiping Wu, Director



  • Cornell University, Ithaca – Master of Regional Planning

College of Architecture, Art & Planning, Department of City & Regional Planning

106 W. Sibley Hall

Ithaca, NY 14853

Accreditation through December 31, 2021
Jeffery M. Chusid, Department Chair


  • Hunter College, City University of New York – Master of Urban Planning

School of Arts & Sciences, Dept of Urban Planning and Policy

695 Park Ave, West Bldg 1611

New York, NY 10065

Accreditation through December 31, 2022
John Chin, Director


  • New York University – Master of Urban Planning

Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, Urban Planning Program

295 Lafayette St., 2ndfloor

New York, NY 10012

Accreditation through December 31, 2026
Zhan Guo, Director


  • Pratt Institute – Master of Science in City & Regional Planning

School of Architecture, Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment

200 Willoughby Ave.

Brooklyn, NY 11205

Accreditation through December 31, 2020
Eve Baron, Chair


  • University of Albany, State University of New York – Master of Regional Planning in Urban & Regional Planning

College of Arts & Sciences, Dept of Geography and Planning

Arts & Sciences 218

Albany, NY 12222

Accreditation through December 31, 2023
Catherine T. Lawson, Director


  • University at Buffalo, State University of New York – Master of Urban Planning

School of Architecture & Planning, Dept of Urban and Regional Planning

Hayes Hall

Buffalo, NY 14214-3087

Accreditation through December 31, 2021
Daniel Hess, Chair


Earning Professional Certification as an Urban Planner in Connecticut

American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP)

After completing your graduate degree and working for two years in the field, you should pursue professional certification through the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). This involves passing a test. The American Planning Association-Connecticut Chapter offers study resources online. You may take the test at a Prometric center such as:

  • Glastonbury – 655 Winding Brook Drive
  • North Haven – 117 Washington Ave.
  • Norwalk – 444 Westport Ave.

AICP Certification Maintenance in Connecticut

The AICP’s Certification Maintenance program will ensure that you meet the 32 CM credit requirement every two years in order to maintain AICP membership. The APA-Connecticut Chapter provides resources to help you find eligible activities.

Extra Certifications for Connecticut Urban Planners

If you would like to pursue other professional urban planning certifications, check out:

Procuring an Urban Planning Job in Connecticut

Prominent Urban Planning Projects in Connecticut

Notable planning projects that have occurred across Connecticut include:

  • Chestnut St. 122,000 square foot mixed-use development in Norwalk
  • Arawana Golf Course, Middletown
  • Darien Tidal Wetlands Restoration, Darien
  • Saugatuck Center and Marina, Westport
  • The Village- 102,000 square foot shopping village in Norwalk

Connecticut Urban Planning Internships

Even if your college program does not offer an internship opportunity, you could choose to pursue one on your own and land a gig like:

  • Planning Intern- City of Stamford
  • Transportation Planning Intern – AECOM, Rocky Hill
  • Engineering Intern – Otis, Farmington
  • Project Engineering Intern – Collins Aerospace, Danbury
  • Construction Intern – AECOM, Bridgeport

Public Sector Jobs in Urban Planning in Connecticut

Public sector jobs at federal, state and local levels may be available such as:

  • Zoning Enforcement Officer – Town of Branford
  • Planner- Western Connecticut Council of Governments, Sandy Hook
  • Assistant Town Planner – Town of Branford
  • Transportation Planner – Windham Region Transit District, Mansfield
  • Inland Wetlands Agent/Environmental Planner – Town of Windsor
  • Zoning Official- Town of Waterford

Private Sector Jobs in Urban Planning in Connecticut

Private sector jobs in urban planning could include:

  • Territory Manager – Fisher & Paykel Appliances
  • Planning & Performance Director – Anthem, Inc., New Haven
  • Planning & Development Associate – HRA of New Britain
  • Community Manager – Techstars, Fairfield

Forecast for Connecticut’s Real Estate Industry and Urban Planning

Per the Connecticut Department of Labor, jobs for urban planners statewide are expected to increase by 8.4 percent between the years of 2016 and 2026. The news is not quite as good for the state’s real estate industry, however. It is recovering from the bust seen after 2007’s historic home prices. But prices have a long way to go to reach those record numbers. Unfortunately, many Connecticut homeowners are still in a negative equity position because of the boom and bust of the mid-2010s. As of 2019, home prices are the highest in Hartford County, and the lowest in Fairfield County. Of the 169 municipalities in Connecticut, only 10 have home sale prices at pre-recession levels.

Does this mean that you should not pursue your dream of becoming an urban planner in Connecticut? Of course not. As the economy improves, more and more urban planners will be needed to make space for affordable housing in all parts of the state.

More Resources for Connecticut’s Urban Planners