A city planner's job is to help citizens build a great community. City planners (or just "planners" for short) work with neighborhood groups, the mayor, the police, engineers, businesspeople, and many others to make the community the best place to live.

Think about all the buildings in your city or town. As the population goes up, there will need to be more houses, apartments, and workplaces for the new residents.

But what would happen if all these new buildings were built just anywhere? Who would make sure there are still enough parks and playgrounds for adults and kids to enjoy? Would the roads and sidewalks be able to fit all the cars people will drive, the bikes people will ride, and the walking people will do? Where could trees and plants grow if there were just buildings and roads?

You might not notice it at first, but the location of all the buildings around you took planning. Planners make sure cities are built in a smart way, so that the roads can fit all of the traffic the buildings create, that neighborhoods still have parks and playgrounds, that there are places for trees and wildlife, that there are enough stores to find the things we need, that residents can find good jobs, and that everyone has a chance to live in a nice house or apartment.

This is called shaping a community's growth. Planners think ahead. They help residents decide how to improve their community today, 5 years from now, and 20 years from now.

There are many different kinds of planners:

Community planners build consensus in the community on how it should grow, and how each piece of land around a city should be used. Some land is used for markets and stores, some for houses, some for factories, some for office buildings or skyscrapers, some for roads and trails, and some for parks and playgrounds.

Environmental planners make sure that important natural features of a community are protected. This includes protecting lakes, rivers, and wetlands from pollution.

Transportation planners plan a city's transportation system: roads and highways, railroads, bike paths, and sidewalks.

Other planners might focus on affordable housing (ensuring everyone in the community can buy or rent a place to live), economic development (promoting businesses and creating jobs), and historic preservation (protecting historic buildings from being destroyed).