How to Become an Urban Planner in Missouri

Missouri MapAccording to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of the landlocked state of Missouri as of July 2019 was just over 6.1 million. Missouri’s population grew by 2.5 percent from 2010 through 2018. The total land mass of Missouri is 69,704 square miles, with 87.1 people per square mile. It is less densely populated than many other states in the nation. As a result of slower than average growth, the state’s Office of Administration Division of Budget and Planning notes that the state’s rank has declined to the 17thmost populous state in the nation as of 2019.

Projections by this office indicate that Missouri’s population growth will continue to slow by six percent per decade from 2000 to 2030. This slowing of population growth is attributed to more deaths than births occurring in the state. Over the next thirty years, more growth is expected in the suburban counties surrounding Springfield, St. Louis and Kansas City. The greatest population decline is expected in Missouri’s rural counties, such as New Madrid, Iron, and Gentry Counties.

These migration patterns provide interesting challenges for those wishing to become urban planners in Missouri. As people move from rural to suburban areas as well as from urban to suburban areas of the state, more housing and living space must be planned and created within these suburban areas to accommodate growth. If you would like to learn how to become an urban planner in Missouri and tackle such challenges head-on, keep reading.

Earnings for Missouri’s Urban Planners

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2019 urban planners working in Missouri averaged a median salary of $71,860. Those working in the following cities in Missouri made more or less than average, as noted below (some city statistics provided by

  • Independence $60,092
  • Kansas City MO-KS $77,150
  • Springfield $59,154
  • Louis $72,740

Laws Regarding Land Use and Urban Planning in Missouri

Planning and zoning powers for villages, towns and cities are delegated to local governments under the Revised Missouri Statutes. The state’s laws are planned under the traditional national Standard City Planning Enabling Act. Such powers are broadly defined. Under Missouri law, if a city institutes zoning regulations, it must have a Comprehensive Plan. Municipalities may create a Planning Commission to deal with planning and zoning regulations and issues. Land use plans that Planning Commissions adopt are simply a guide to or recommendation for development and are not legally binding.

Zoning regulations, however, define the permitted and conditional usage for various parcels of land, in order to promote health, safety and welfare of the community. Zoning in Missouri is governed by the Missouri Zoning Enabling Act of the Missouri Revised Statutes. Legislative bodies must appoint Zoning Commissions to deal with zoning powers and regulations within a municipality. The public can have input on zoning decisions and regulations, but they are ultimately up to the Commission.

Annexation in Missouri

In Missouri, annexation is a complex matter that is governed by multiple statutes. Towns and cities may engage in voluntary annexation of unincorporated areas that are contiguous to the existing corporate limits of the city/town. Involuntary annexation may also apply to contiguous land and if the proposed annexation is considered bot e reasonable and necessary to the proper development of the town/city. An involuntary annexation must be approved by a majority of votes of residents of the town/city.

Another type of annexation in Missouri is eminent domain. Under Missouri’s constitution, private property may not be taken for public use without just compensation. Exceptions to this rule include for private ways of necessity, for drains and ditches across the land for agricultural and sanitary purposes, and for public use. Only the state of Missouri can invoke eminent domain over a property – municipalities cannot do so unless authorized by the state.

Urban Redevelopment Corporation Law identifies a blighted area of Missouri and invokes eminent domain over that property. In order to apply, the land must be determined by age, obsolescence, inadequate or outmoded design or physical deterioration to be an economic and social liability. These conditions must be deemed to be dangerous to health, cause disease transmission, enhance crime or cause inability to pay taxes.

Missouri Recreational Land Use Act

The Missouri Recreational Land Use Act creates tort immunity for Missouri landowners who offer their land, free of charge, to the public for recreational use. Recreational use can be defined as winter sports, nature study, biking, picnicking, camping, fishing, hunting, or enjoying scenic or archaeological sites for pleasure, relaxation, education, exercise or recreation. Landowners are not held liable for damages that occur to the public while using their land, under this act.

Urban Planning Degrees in Missouri

Undergraduate Urban Planning Degrees in Missouri

Your first step in becoming an urban planner in Missouri is to obtain an undergraduate degree. You should pick a program accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board (PAB) of the American Planning Association. In Missouri, there is one such program:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Urban Planning & Design – University of Missouri, Kansas City

Graduate Urban Planning Degrees in Missouri

When it’s time to select a graduate urban planning degree program, you should also choose one that is accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board (PAB) of the American Planning Association. No programs in Missouri hold such accreditation. Fortunately, however, Missouri is bordered by eight states (more than any other state in the nation), and some of them house PAB-accredited programs:


  • University of Illinois at Chicago- Master of Urban Planning & Policy

College of Urban Planning & Public Affairs, Department of Urban Planning & Policy

412 S. Peoria St. – Suite 215 MC 348

Chicago, IL 60607-7068

Accreditation through December 31, 2025

Nik Theodore, Head


  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – Master of Urban Planning

College of Fine & Applied Arts, Department of Urban and Regional Planning

111 Temple Buell Hall – 611 Taft Dr.

Champaign, IL 61820

Accreditation through December 31, 2021

Roff Pendall, Department Head



  • Iowa State University—Master of Community & Regional Planning

College of Design, Dept. of Community & Regional Planning

146 College of Design

Ames, IA 50011

Accreditation through December 31, 2024

Francis Owusu, Chair


  • University of Iowa—Master of Science in Urban & Regional Planning

School of Urban & Regional Planning

347 Jessup Hall

Iowa City, IA 52242-1316

Accreditation through December 31, 2020

Charles Connerly, Director



  • Kansas State University- Master of Regional & Community Planning

College of Architecture, Planning & Design, Dept. of Landscape Architecture & Regional & Community Planning

1086 Seaton Hall

Manhattan, KS 66506-2909

Accreditation through December 31, 2022

Stephanie Rolley, Department Head


  • University of Kansas- Master of Urban Planning

School of Public Affairs & Administration, Urban Planning Program

1460 Jayhawk Blvd, Room 219 Snow Hall

Lawrence, KS 66045-7614

Accreditation through December 31, 2022

Bonnie J. Johnson, Program Director



  • University of Louisville – Master of Urban Planning

College of Arts & Sciences, Department of Urban & Public Affairs

426 W. Bloom St.

Louisville, KY 40208

Accreditation through December 31, 2021

David M. Simpson, Director



  • University of Nebraska Lincoln – Master of Community & Regional Planning

College of Architecture, Community & Regional Planning Program

304 Architecture Hall

Lincoln, NE 68588-0105

Accreditation through December 31, 2025

Gordon Scholz, Program Director



  • University of Oklahoma – Master of Regional & City Planning

College of Architecture, Division of Regional & City Planning

256 Gould Hall, 830 Van Vleet Oval

Norman, OK 73019-6141

Accreditation through December 31, 2022

Charles Warnken, Director



  • University of Memphis – Master of City & Regional Planning

School of Urban Affairs & Public Policy, Department of City & Regional Planning

208 McCord Hall

Memphis, TN 38152

Accreditation through December 31, 2020

Charles A. Santo, Chair


Becoming a Professionally Certified Urban Planner in Missouri

American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP)

Get your graduate degree and work for two years in the field. Then, you can pursue professional certification through the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). The Missouri Chapter of the American Planning Association offers a scholarship for members wishing to take the AICP exam but facing financial hardship. Contact Professional Development Officer Brendan Griesemer for more information. The test is offered at the following Prometric test centers in Missouri:

  • Jefferson City – 520 Ellis Blvd.
  • Kansas City- University of Missouri
  • Lee’s Summit- 1205 NE Rice Rd.
  • Springfield – 1830 East Independence St.
  • Louis- 1001 Craig Rd.

AICP Certification Maintenance in Missouri

Through the AICP’s Certification Maintenance program, you can meet the 32 CM per two years requirement to maintain your membership. The APA-Missouri Chapter posts eligible events on their calendar.

Further Certifications for Missouri’s Urban Planners

More professional urban planning certifications are available for Missouri’s planners, like:

Finding an Urban Planning Position in Missouri

Projects in Urban Planning in Missouri

Noteworthy projects in urban planning throughout Missouri are:

  • I-70 First and Second Tier EIS – Missouri Department of Transportation
  • Buck O’Neil Bridge Environmental Study – Missouri Department of Transportation
  • Heartland Meadows Park – City of Liberty
  • Louis Holocaust Museum rebuilding
  • Siteman Cancer Center, St. Louis

Internships in Urban Planning in Missouri

Your college urban planning degree program should offer you the opportunity to work as an intern in the field prior to graduation. Examples of prior internships include:

  • Urban Planning Intern, Advance Planning Group – Jacobs, St. Louis
  • Interpretive Naturalist Intern – Missouri Department of Conservation, Kirkwood
  • Summer Intern- Osborn Barr/Paramore, St. Louis
  • Intern Architect- HNTB Corporation, Kansas City
  • Commercial Real Estate Researcher Intern – Integra Realty Resources, St. Louis

Jobs in the Public Sector for Urban Planners in Missouri

Public sector jobs for urban planners in Missouri, at the federal, state and local levels, include:

  • Planning Technician – City of Chesterfield
  • City Planner I – City of Ozark
  • City Planner – City of Excelsior Springs
  • Planner – State of Missouri, Jefferson
  • Soil Conservationist Technician – U.S. Department of Agriculture, Blue Springs

Jobs in the Private Sector for Urban Planners in Missouri

Private sector jobs for urban planners in Missouri may have names such as:

  • Executive Director- Parkville Economic Development Council, Parkville
  • Planner- Missouri State University, Springfield
  • Associate Planner- Heim, Young & Assoc., Inc., Springfield
  • Development Planner – NorthPoint Development, Riverside
  • Transportation Planner- HDR, Kansas City

Predictions for the Real Estate Industry and Urban Planners in Missouri predicts that the Kansas City, Missouri housing market may see the biggest decline in housing prices of all major metropolitan areas in the nation, with a four percent drop expected. Low inventory and economic uncertainty are expected to fuel this decline. The average price for a home around Kansas City is currently $250,000, and demand is still great at this price point.

This could mean that migration patterns will shift in Missouri, as more Missourians are expected to move from rural and urban areas into the suburban counties of the state. Urban planners hoping to land a job in Missouri should have minimal problems doing so, as the need will always be there for well-educated planners to help plan new living spaces for citizens living in all areas of Missouri.

Additional Urban Planning Resources in Missouri