Ben Baden writes:
An expanding population has created the need for additional transportation systems, affordable housing, and schools in many parts of the country. The urban and regional planning field is expected to grow 19 percent, from 38,400 jobs in 2008 to 45,700 jobs by 2018, according to the Labor Department. Most of the new jobs will be with state and local governments.
That's good news, because a gig like this pays pretty well for a public sector job: urban and regional planners earned a median salary of $61,820 in 2009. (Tack on another $10,000 for a job at a private architectural or engineering firm.)
So what's an urban planner do, exactly? Study how land is currently used, get community input on future use, forecast that use case, then actually set pencil to paper, minding regulations and budget constraints.
Whether for a school or a housing development or a park (or bike trails or high-speed rail or city transit), the urban planner no doubt has their work cut out for them in an age where interest in infrastructure is high.
In fact, USN&WR's top 50 list features quite a few smart jobs. Among our favorites: biomedical engineer (healthcare!), civil engineer (cities!), environmental science technician (environment!), network architect (smart grid!), HVACR technician (green building!).