Zoning administrators often are the go-to people about laws and ordinances dealing with zoning in a community. In many cases, the zoning administrator -- along with municipal planners and elected officials determine the look and development of a community. While a college degree is usually required. some small towns and counties will hire someone with just a high school degree to administer the community's zoning, but not to create the rules. In most cases, a master’s degree and certification can be beneficial.
Broad Job Overview
A zoning administrator investigates every step of the planning code within a specific county or city. This includes enforcing zoning laws and monitoring zoning applications under the direction of the director. In some cases, the zoning administrator is the director. In addition to working in the office reviewing applications, you travel to areas for field inspections and to enforce zoning ordinances. While most zoning administrators work for local government, job opportunities are also available in real estate development and with consulting firms.
Daily Job Duties
In addition to managing zoning staff and coordinating staff training programs, zoning administrators review permit applications, coordinate with zoning personal and developers, propose zoning rules and ordinances or revise existing codes and review projects for zoning compliance. You deal with variance requests -- exceptions from standard ordinances -- and hold variance hearings. Architects and planners also confer with you about zoning code interpretations, and you provide recommendations and review of zoning appeals.
Zoning administrators have a thorough understanding of zoning ordinances, planning laws and project development. To interpret codes and propose new ordinances, you need strong analytical and communication skills. Impeccable decision-making and management skills are also a must. You need knowledge of management principles and strategic planning, along with human resources and leadership techniques. Geography, mathematics and design knowledge are also beneficial study areas for zoning administrators.
Education & Training
The position typically requires at least a bachelor’s degree in architecture, planning, engineering or a closely related field; however, some employers may only require a high school diploma. While some employers may accept a bachelor’s degree in another field; , you may be required to obtain specific state certification. For example, in Florida, if you have a degree that isn’t in planning or architecture you must complete level 1 and 2 certification through the Florida Association of Code Enforcement. A master’s degree in planning or architecture may give you a leg up among the competition. The job requires extensive experience. Some employers, notes ONet, require five or more years of experience in planning or zoning enforcement, as well as two or more years of supervisory experience. Certification through the American Institute of Certified Planners is encouraged.
- ONet Online: Urban and Regional Planners
- The City of Miami: Zoning Administrator
- City & County of San Francisco: Zoning Administrator
- Maricopa County: Zoning and Planning Administrator
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Urban and Regional Planner
- Norwood Township, Charlevoix County, Michigan: Zoning Administrator
- Photo Credit John Rowley/Digital Vision/Getty Images
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