Urban and regional planners develop policies and plans for the use of land and resources. They advise on the economic, environmental, social and cultural needs of particular localities or regions as they relate to the built environment and the community. They also work on large-scale projects such as new suburbs, towns, industrial areas, commercial and retail developments, urban renewal projects and transportation links.
To become an urban and regional planner you usually have to study urban, regional or environmental planning at university. You may also consider other degrees that emphasise related fields such as architecture, economics, environmental management or science, geography and sociology. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English and mathematics are normally required. Most universities in Australia offer degrees in relevant areas. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. For full details, refer to the entries on the website at www.goodcareersguide.com.au or university handbooks.
Urban and regional planners may perform the following tasks:
Planners work closely with professionals in other fields (such as surveying, urban design, architecture, engineering, environment and conservation, property development, community services and transport planning). There is a high level of public contact as planners spend a lot of time in meetings and discussions. Time is also spent on field visits, writing reports and performing research. Planners are required to prepare documentation of decisions for independent review and are often called upon to appear as expert witnesses before appeal hearings.
The majority of urban and regional planners work in metropolitan areas and regional centres. However, the number of opportunities available in country areas is growing. Some consultant planners have government and private-sector clients in the Asia-Pacific region. Urban and regional planners work in state, territory and local governments and there are also opportunities for employment in specialised consulting practices or financial and real estate institutions. Planners may also assist in conservation and development issues for large resource projects. Within the public sector there is a clear career structure. The private sector is more varied, however, and there are opportunities for planners to work in many areas, including environmental planning, social planning, economic development, urban design, transport planning and planning law.
A transportation planner balances public and private transport to avoid congestion in cities.