Environmental Design : Careers

Career Information and Further Study

Because local governments employ the majority of entry-level environmental design graduates, they may be referred to as assistant planners, associate planners, or community development specialists. Environmental design practitioners promote the best use of a community's land and resources for residential, commercial, institutional, and recreational purposes. Before preparing plans for community development, planners and designers report on the current use of land for residential, business, and community purposes. Their reports include information on the location and capacity of streets, highways, airports, schools, libraries, and cultural and recreational sites. They also provide data on the types of industries in the community, the characteristics of the population, land-use issues created by population movements, and employment and economic trends. Using this information, plans and designs are developed for the layout of land uses for buildings, public transportation, developing resources, and protecting ecologically sensitive regions. They may formulate plans relating to the construction of new school buildings, college campuses, public housing, or other kinds of infrastructure. Some are involved in environmental planning issues ranging from pollution control to wetland preservation and forest conservation. Others are involved in landscape planning through the development of urban park systems and greenways.

Skills gained in this program include:
  • Researching, analyzing, and interpreting information during project work
  • Verbal, written, and graphic communication skills, including the ability to give presentations
  • The ability to conceptualize community and regional environments
  • Project management
  • The ability to define and address complex community and environmental problems
  • An awareness of the multifaceted circumstances surrounding a design project, including cultural, environmental, physical, political, and social concerns
  • Negotiation and conflict resolution
  • Graphic design skills, including the ability to visually communicate ideas to others
  • Creativity when addressing complex community, environmental, and regional issues
  • Computing skills
  • Writing and editing skills

Career Choices
  • Architecture
  • Community and economic development
  • Educational administration
  • Environmental affairs
  • Historic preservation
  • Landscape architecture
  • Law and legal affairs
  • Management
  • Public policy and administration
  • Real estate development
  • Urban and regional planning

Work settings include:
  • Architecture, urban planning, and engineering consulting firms
  • Banking and financial institutions
  • Development corporations (including community, economic, housing, and industrial)
  • Environmental organizations
  • Land use, property, and real estate development
  • Government agencies (local, state, federal)
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Transportation services
  • Conservation and historic preservation societies

Alumni in Environmental Design have found employment in the following fields:
  • City, town, or village planning
  • Community development
  • Construction management
  • Economic development
  • Educational administration and planning
  • Environmental planning
  • Geographic information systems
  • Historic preservation
  • Industrial development
  • Landscape development
  • Market research
  • Property management
  • Real estate development
  • Regional planning
  • Urban development
  • Urban design

What percentage of graduates goes on to find related employment?

33% directly after graduation

Salary Information

Salaries range greatly from one occupation, position, and work setting to another. According to the U.S. Department of Labor in December 2009, the median annual wages for federal, state, or local government, entry-level environmental designer practitioners with a bachelor's degree and no experience could start at $25,670 to $38,780 per year, depending on their college academic records. Beginning salaries were slightly higher in selected areas of the country where the prevailing local pay level was higher. The median annual earnings for individuals with a master's in urban planning was $59,810 in May 2008.

Postbaccalaureate Opportunities

Both the preprofessional bachelor of arts and minor in environmental design, offered by the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, aim to provide students with the versatility to succeed in a variety of fields. Graduates of the preprofessional undergraduate environmental design program have sound preparation for entry-level employment in urban planning and design, environmental affairs, real estate or related fields; in town, city, county, or state government; nonprofit organizations; development corporations (including community, economic, industrial, and neighborhood); construction planning; historic preservation societies, and housing or transportation agencies.

Environmental design graduates are also prepared for graduate study in the professions or the social sciences, in fields such as urban and regional planning, architecture and landscape architecture, environmental planning and management, geography and geographic information systems, historic preservation, law, real estate development, educational administration, student affairs administration, and public policy administration.

Information gathered from graduates indicate one-third of environmental design alumni continue their postbaccalaureate studies at the University at Buffalo.

Postbaccalaureate educational options at UB include the opportunity for application to the accredited professional Master of Urban Planning or the accredited professional Master of Architecture. Additional postbaccalaureate programs include a dual Master of Architecture plus Master of Urban Planning (MArch + MUP) offered with the Department of Architecture, and a dual Master of Urban Planning plus Jurist Doctor offered (MUP + JD) with the Law School. Contact the School of Architecture and Planning for graduate information.

What percentage of graduates goes on to graduate school?


Additional Resources

Updated: 13 Nov 2012 06:01:07 EST