How to Become an Urban Planner in Vermont

Vermont MapVermont is unique in that it has five state designation programs. These designation programs are designed to direct private and public resources to the proper areas to maintain Vermont’s landscape. These five designations are:

  • Village centers – These are usually mixed-use areas that support revitalization activities in small-to medium-sized historic centers that have at least one commercial or civic building
  • Downtowns – Support revitalization activities in medium- to large- sized historic centers with community capacity to support a non-profit organization or municipal commission
  • New town centers – Provide a framework for creating compact, walkable, mixed-used center for municipalities that have no designated downtown or village center. Professional planning staff are required in new town centers, as well as a governing body.
  • Neighborhood development areas – These support housing development inside, or within walking distance of, one of the core designations listed above.
  • Growth centers – These help to shape areas beyond a commercial center with a framework of regulations and policies that help to ensure 20 years of future development enhancing a designated core.

Examples of village centers in Vermont are Jamaica, Fairlee, Woodstock and Hardwick. Village centers are diverse, with populations ranging from hundreds to over 10,000. The majority of village centers are less than 50 acres in area.

Downtowns are larger than village centers and have a higher density of mixed-use development. One example is Barre. Populations of downtowns are at least 2000. Half are between 50 and 100 acres in area.

New town centers are designed to be walkable, meet smart growth goals and be compact and pedestrian friendly. Examples are South Burlington and Colchester. Populations are around 15,000 to 20,000. These two new town centers are about 100 acres in area.

Neighborhood development areas may include an entire designated core area or part of that area suitable for development extending a quarter of a mile from village centers and new town centers, and a half mile from downtowns or within a designated growth center. Currently, neighborhood development areas in Vermont exist within medium and large communities. Most are smaller than 50 acres in area. Burlington is one example of a neighborhood development area designation that occurred in 2014.

A growth center in Vermont will have at least 7000 residents. Half of the state’s current growth centers have over 10,000 residents. Half of them are also under 1000 acres in size. St. Albans City is an example of a growth center designation that occurred in 2010.

This is a lot for a prospective urban planner in Vermont to comprehend. If you are interested in working in this exciting and challenging field, keep reading to discover how you can become a Vermont urban planner.

Income for Vermont’s Urban Planners

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the US Department of Labor reports that urban planners employed in Vermont in May 2019 brought home an average yearly salary of $57,320. Planners working in cities throughout Vermont earned the following (some city data is from

  • Burlington: $63,210
  • Colchester: $60,341
  • Rutland: $60,883
  • South Burlington: $63,210

Vermont Land Use and Planning Laws and Regulations

According to the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development, as of April 2017, 86 percent of municipalities in Vermont have a plan. Plans help municipalities in Vermont be ready for economic development, housing needs, infrastructure, and environmental health. The Department says that as of April 2017 there were 213 municipal plans in the state of Vermont. Municipal plans can be utilized as a long-term guide, a basis for decision making, an action plan to identify implementation steps, and a basis for municipal regulations. Municipal plans in Vermont help municipalities be able to adopt zoning and subdivision regulations, flood-hazard regulations, and capital budgets. They help influence state regulatory proceedings and help municipalities qualify for and receive priority for state and federal programs.

Regional Planning Commissions in Vermont

Vermont has 11 Regional Planning Commissions, which adopt plans that parallel the content of municipal plans and must be consistent with state planning goals. Municipal plans must be compatible with regional plans. Municipalities may adopt a regional plan, or part of a regional plan, as its municipal plan.  The 11 Regional Planning Commissions (RPC) in Vermont are:

  • Northwest RPC
  • Northeastern Vermont Development Association
  • Lamoille County PC
  • Chittenden Country RPC
  • Central Vermont RPC
  • Addison County RPC
  • Two Rivers Ottauquechee RC
  • Rutland RPC
  • Southern Windsor RPC
  • Bennington County RC
  • Windham RC

Statewide Planning Goals in Vermont

Under Vermont law, there are 14 goals that municipal, regional, and state plans must encourage. They are:

  • Plan development to maintain the historic settlement pattern of compact village and urban centers separated by rural countryside
  • Provide a strong and diverse economy with jobs and high environmental standards
  • Broaden access to educational/vocational training
  • Provide safe, convenient, economic and energy efficient transportation systems
  • Identify, protect, preserve important natural and historic features of the Vermont landscape
  • Maintain/improve quality of water, air, wildlife and land resources
  • Make efficient use of energy, provide for development of renewable energy resources, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Maintain/enhance recreational opportunities for residents and visitors
  • Encourage/strengthen agricultural and forest industries
  • Provide for wise, efficient use of Vermont’s natural resources and appropriate extraction of earth resources
  • Ensure availability of safe, affordable housing for all Vermonters
  • Plan for, finance, provide efficient system of public facilities and services that meets future needs
  • Ensure that safe, affordable child care is available for all
  • Encourage flood-resilient communities

Education and Training in Urban Planning in Vermont

Undergraduate Urban Planning Education in Vermont

Although you must eventually get a graduate degree in order to work in urban planning in Vermont, you must, of course, start by obtaining an undergraduate degree. Consider these options:

  • Bachelor of Science in Geography, Concentration in Urban, Community & Regional Planning – University of Vermont, Burlington
  • Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering Technology – Vermont Technical College, Randolph Center

Graduate Urban Planning Education in Vermont

Specialists encourage prospective urban planners to choose a graduate urban planning program that is accredited through the Planning Accreditation Board (PAB) of the American Planning Association. There are no such programs in Vermont. However, neighboring Massachusetts and New York house the following PAB-accredited urban planning programs:



  • 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



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., 2nd floor

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


Credentialing for Urban Planners in Vermont

American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP)

Why would you want credentials as a Vermont urban planner? Becoming professionally certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) shows the world that you have the highest standards and ethics of the profession. You may sit for the certification exam after working in the urban planning field for two years. Prometric test centers in Vermont and neighboring states offering this exam are:

  • Albany, NY: 17 Computer Drive East
  • Concord, NH: 2 Whitney Rd.
  • Portsmouth, NH: 100 Arboretum Drive
  • Williston, VT:                600 Blair Park Road

Maintaining AICP Credentials in Vermont

The American Planning Association – Northern New England Chapter offers seminars, webinars and events to help you fulfill the requirement of completion of 32 Certification Maintenance (CM) credits every two years. This is necessary to maintain your AICP credentials. Check out their website for more information.

Auxiliary Certifications Offered for Vermont Urban Planners

Some more organizations offering urban planning credentials are:

Working in Urban Planning in Vermont

Urban Planning Projects Across Vermont

Truly outstanding urban planning projects in Vermont have included:

  • Shelburne Veterans Memorial, Vermont Urban & Community Forest Organization, Shelburne
  • South Burlington Open Space Program
  • Stafford Hill Solar Farm, Rutland
  • Neshobe Farm Planned Community Development, Brandon

Urban Planning Internships in Vermont

You can always seek out your own internship in Vermont, with examples being:

  • Event Planning Intern – Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Montpelier
  • Stormwater Engineering Intern – Brattleboro Department of Public Works, Brattleboro
  • Summer Weatherization Tech Intern – Energy Co-Op of Vermont, Colchester
  • Summer Parks and Recreation Department Intern – Town of Waterbury Parks & Rec, Waterbury

Public Sector Urban Planning Jobs in Vermont

State, local and regional planning jobs in Vermont could include:

  • State Hazard Mitigation Planner- State of Vermont, Waterbury
  • US Forest Service Tech Resource Assistant – Burlington
  • Planning Analyst – Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District, Montpelier
  • Environmental Planer, FEMA- Rutland and Barre

Private Sector Urban Planning Jobs in Vermont

Companies and nonprofits offering private sector jobs in Vermont may include:

  • Assistant/Associate Professor (Sustainable Development) – World Learning, Vermont
  • Director of Science and Freshwater Programs – The Nature Conservancy, Montpelier
  • Sector Director – Tetra Tech, Burlington
  • Farm & Forest Community Coordinator- VHCB AmeriCorps Program, Montpelier

Real Estate Market and Planning Outlook for Vermont’s Urban Planners

Realtors say that Vermont’s real estate market will remain a seller’s market, in terms of residential real estate. Specifically, in Grand Isle, Franklin, Addison and Chittenden Counties, home sales are up and are expected to continue to increase. There should be plenty of work available for anyone planning to become an urban planner in the Green Mountain state.

More Resources for Vermont’s Urban Planners