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How to become an Urban Planner

Urban planners develop and implement plans and policies surrounding the development and use of land. They work on a variety of projects, including designing new neighbourhoods, revitalising existing infrastructure, and even zoning areas of ecological and environmental importance. As populations grow and cities expand, their work is essential to creating sustainable and liveable places for us to live and work.

If you are creative, innovative, and great at solving problems, becoming an urban planner could be a rewarding career to consider.

What skills do I need as an urban planner?

  • Innovative & forward-thinking
  • Analytical & thorough
  • Good research skills
  • Eye for design
  • Excellent problem-solver
  • Great communicator
  • Can work in teams
  • Organised & precise

What tasks can I expect to do?

  • Collect data on factors influencing land use
  • Carry out site surveys, inspections & impact assessments
  • Consult with governments, communities, developers & other professionals
  • Create detailed plans, designs & cost reports
  • Present plans & reports to stakeholders
  • Mediate planning issues & disputes
  • Ensure laws & regulations are followed
  • Advise on resource use & planning

What industries do urban planners typically work in?

  • Public Administration & Safety
  • Professional, Scientific & Technical Services
  • Construction

What kind of lifestyle can I expect as an urban planner?

Most urban planners work full-time, with part-time opportunities being very rare. On the flip side, you’re unlikely to have to work on weekends or holidays.

Urban planners typically work for councils, government bodies, or private firms. You’ll be required to attend lots of meetings and occasionally conduct site visits, but some of your work can also be done from remotely from home.

Most urban planners can expect to earn an above average salary.

How to become an urban planner

To become an urban planner, you typically need a bachelor’s or master’s degree in urban or regional planning, geography, or another related field. This education includes coursework in land use, zoning, transportation planning, environmental planning, and community development. Many programs also include internships or practical components that provide hands-on experience in the field.

Additionally, some countries and states require urban planners to be licensed, which may involve passing an exam and/or meeting certain education and experience requirements.

If you’re in high school now and are thinking of becoming an urban planner, here are some steps you could take:

  • Start researching university courses and take any prerequisite subjects at school. Seek out work experience opportunities to gain skills, build your networks, and explore your future options.
  • Practise using GIS tools, statistical software, spreadsheets, and other useful database and software programs. You could even look for short courses to learn how to use these tools and programs.
  • Get involved in your local community and explore the issues that people are concerned with in your town. Develop your understanding of the social, environmental, and legal factors that influence urban planning, and look at previous suggestions or plans that have worked or failed.

Find out more here:

Similar careers to urban planner

  • Surveyor
  • Civil Engineer
  • Interior Designer
  • Builder
  • Project Manager
  • Landscape Designer
  • Architect
  • Remote Sensing Scientist

Find out more about alternative careers.

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