How to become an Urban Planner

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How to become an Urban Planner

Design functional and enjoyable areas to live, work, and play


What do Urban Planners do?


Urban Planners develop the plans and programs to make the best use of land. Their planning skills are needed to develop infrastructure and services to create communities, accommodate growth, or revitalise physical facilities in towns, cities, counties, and metropolitan areas. Regional planners work outside these areas.

If you are logical, innovative and great at solving problems, becoming an Urban Planner could be a rewarding profession to consider.


About you:


  • Vision and innovative thinking
  • Great at data collection and analysis
  • Understanding of social, economic, cultural, and environmental issues
  • Good at design and aesthetics
  • Communication and collaboration
  • Project management and teamwork
  • Negotiator, mediator, facilitator and advocate


The job:


  • Research, data collection and analysis
  • Carry out site surveys, inspections and impact assessments
  • Consult with Government, state, community, developers and others
  • Create detailed plans, designs and cost reports
  • Present plans and reports to stakeholders
  • Advise on planning issues and disputes
  • Help in obtaining required permits
  • Ensure laws and regulations are met
  • Supervise and work with other professionals


Lifestyle Impact: Low


  • Part Time opportunities: Low – only 20% of Urban Planners work part-time (source: joboutlook.gov.au).
  • Average hours for full-time workers: 42 hours a week, which is average (source: joboutlook.gov.au).
  • Urban Planners’ salary (average) $80,000* per year (Source: com.au). *Salaries vary depending on your skills and experience.
  • Future career growth: Strong (Source: joboutlook.gov.au).
  • You’ll be required to attend lots of meetings and be on site, but some of your work may be done from remotely from home. You’re unlikely to have to work weekends or out of office hours.


Urban Planners are most in demand in these locations:


Urban Planners are most in demand in News South Wales and Victoria. However, there are opportunities across Australia, even in more regional locations. Lots of Urban Planners work with metropolitan councils or within other Government organisations, but there are also jobs within private firms.

You could work as a Regional Planner or specialise into a particular area such as transport planning, strategic planning, urban design, environmental impact assessment, residential planning, commercial and industrial planning, heritage planning, tourism planning, disaster or social planning.


How to become an Urban Planner in Australia


You’ll need a bachelor’s degree or postgraduate qualification in urban, regional or environmental planning to work as an Urban or Regional Planner in Australia.


Step 1 – Complete your high school certificate, English and Maths may be prerequisites for many tertiary qualifications


Step 2 – Complete a tertiary qualification in a relevant field such as:

Tip: Check with the Planning Institute of Australia for accredited courses.


Step 3 – In addition to workplace experience as part of your degree, seek out summer placements or voluntary positions in other organisations to gain more skills, network further and explore other areas of planning.


Step 4 – Apply to become a member of the Planning Institute of Australia.


Step 5 – If you’re really passionate, want to move up the management ladder, or you completed a bachelor’s degree in another field but want to move into planning, consider a postgraduate qualification. E.g. Master of City Planning or a Master of Urban and Regional Planning.


Step 6 – Keep up with all the latest laws, regulations and techonologies. Attend seminars, conferences, workshops and short courses to keep growing your skills and your networks.


Step 7 – Choose an area to specialise in and get the necessary skills and experience.


Find out more here –




Similar Careers to Urban Planner



Civil Engineer 


Project Manager



Find out more about alternative careers.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


  • What do Urban Planners do?


Urban Planners design policies and plans to make the best use of land and resources. They might advise on economic, environmental, social and cultural impacts and needs related to the built environment. Or work on large-scale projects including new suburbs, towns, industrial areas, commercial and retail developments, urban renewal projects and transportation links.


  • Which industries employ Urban Planners?


Urban Planners input and skills are needed in a variety of industries such as transport, state and Federal departments, environment, construction, commercial and industrial, tourism and others.


  • Do I need to go to university to become an Urban Planner?


Yes, you’ll need a relevant bachelor’s or postgraduate qualification to apply for most positions in planning.


  • Where do Urban Planners work?


Urban Planners are employed all across Australia, mostly they work in offices or out on site, but they may have to attend meetings in community or other settings too.


  • What are 3 things I can do right now to help me become an Urban Planner?


If you’re in high school and you’d like to find out if a career as an Urban Planner is right for you, here’s a few things you could do right now:


  1. Work on your communication skills, a big part of an Urban Planner’s job is influencing, negotiating with and persuading people who are part of the change they’re trying to achieve.
  2. Get out in your local community (even at school) and explore the issues that people are or aren’t happy with. Develop your understanding and look at solutions that have work and failed.
  3. Practise using GIS tools, statistical software, spreadsheets and other useful database and software programs, look for short courses to do.
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