From Manhattan’s sky-high grid to the tangled sprawl of Los Angeles, urban and regional planners play a key role in making sure cities become more connected communities rather than concrete jungles. Urban and regional planners develop plans for how land will be used, and oversee complex projects that help accommodate population growth while retaining—or revitalizing— functional communities. The zoning policies they administer have an impact not just on historic buildings, but also on the environment, housing, transportation, and more. Using statistical techniques, field investigations, and technology, urban and regional planners gather and analyze data to understand the current and future needs of their local area. They develop plans to address the needs they uncover… from planning new parks and schools to meet anticipated growth, or sheltering the homeless, to making changes that might attract business development. Urban and regional planners present their project proposals to communities, officials, and planning commissions. Their recommendations help guide decision makers to consider all the factors involved in a new project. Most urban and regional planners work for local government. They may work evenings or weekends to attend meetings with neighborhood groups, and frequently leave the office to inspect proposed development sites. Urban and regional planners need a master’s degree from an accredited planning program to qualify for most positions.