Town planners help shape the way towns and cities develop.

What does a town planner do?

 You balance the demands placed on land by by housing, business, transport and leisure, with the needs of people and the community.

You could work in a wide variety of planning areas in the public or private sector. For example:

  • transport
  • urban design
  • environmental
  • utilities
  • regeneration
  • heritage and conservation

You may work for an organisation that operates across more than one of these areas, or specialise in just one type of planning.

Your duties could include:

  • planning for houses to create affordable, energy efficient homes
  • assessing the impact of new transport schemes like new rail links or road proposals
  • planning renewable energy generation sites like wind farms
  • redesigning urban spaces to improve safety, reduce traffic and increase the number of green areas
  • developing parks, woodlands and waterways in a sustainable way
  • conserving old buildings, archaeological sites and areas of interest
  • managing waste and working on initiatives to reduce waste production like recycling
  • developing planning policies for government at a local and national level
  • making decisions about planning applications
  • advising the public, businesses and land developers on planning policies, rules and regulations
  • enforcing planning rules and regulations on building projects
  • organising meetings to listen to ideas and hear concerns about planning proposals from local people

You would use surveying techniques, geographical information systems (GIS) and computer-aided design (CAD) to draw up plans and make recommendations to local and regional councils.

What do I need to do to become a town planner?

To work as a town planner you would need a degree or a postgraduate qualification accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). There are different ways that you could complete an RTPI accredited qualification and become a planner.

Degree route

An RTPI accredited degree. Subjects include:

  • planning, environment and development
  • city and regional planning
  • urban planning and property development

To get onto a relevant degree you will usually need five GCSEs (A*-C), and at least three A levels. Check exact entry requirements with course providers as other qualifications may be accepted.

Work-based route

With the support of your employer, you could qualify as a planner whilst working in a related role such as planning technician or support staff. You would combine practical experience from your job with part-time or distance learning study towards an accredited qualification. 

Volunteering and work experience is a great way of getting a taste of what it is like to work in planning. Contact your local council or planning organisation to ask about opportunities.

Related skills

  • Communication
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Literacy
  • Organisation
  • Teamwork
  • Time management

Academic route

  • Degree or a postgraduate qualification accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI)

Essential qualifications

  • Five GCSEs (A*-C)
  • At least three A levels

Where to find out more

Royal Town Planning Institute

Where could I be working?

You would be based in a planning office, but also travel to meetings and visit sites. 

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

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