How to become an Urban and Regional Planner

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. Planning is a broadly based discipline and it is possible to specialise in a wide range of fields, including strategic planning, urban design, environmental impact assessment, residential planning, commercial and industrial planning, heritage planning, tourism planning and social planning.

Personal requirements of a Urban and Regional Planner

  • Interested in social, economic, environmental and cultural issues
  • Good oral and written communication skills
  • Able to produce detailed and accurate work
  • Good analytical and problem-solving skills

Education & Training for a Urban and Regional Planner

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. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.

Duties & Tasks of a Urban and Regional Planner

Urban and regional planners:

  • develop long-range objectives to cope with growth and change, in consultation with affected communities
  • perform surveys and site inspections
  • compile and analyse information on physical, economic, social, legal, political, cultural and environmental factors that affect land use
  • discuss plans with local communities, private companies and government organisations
  • consider new developments or re-developing areas and advise state and local governments about planning issues for projects such as new suburbs, transportation links, industrial estates, retail complexes and housing developments
  • draw up plans for development or re-development and evaluate proposals in terms of benefits and costs, recommending how schemes can be carried out
  • prepare urban and rural subdivision plans, taking into account various land uses, including residential, public open space, schools and shops
  • prepare and coordinate economic, social and environmental impact studies
  • provide evidence for appeals in planning disputes
  • consult with, and act as an advocate for, community groups or developers
  • assist developers to obtain planning permits
  • design strategies to guide land and resource use and development in particular locations
  • recommend a course of action that ensures local and regional needs will be met, by taking into account factors such as amenity, community facilities, access to employment, retail housing and transport
  • supervise and work with associates and technicians.

Working conditions for a Urban and Regional Planner

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.

Employment Opportunities for a Urban and Regional Planner

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.

Avg. weekly wage:


Future growth:


Employment by state:

ACT 1.1%

NSW 32.3%

NT 0.6%

QLD 20.3%

SA 5.6%

TAS 1.5%

VIC 26.8%

WA 11.9%

Hours worked:



Lower unemployment

Gender split:

Male 54%

Female 46%

Education level:

Highest qualification is secondary school: 4.9%

Highest qualification is a Certificate 3 or 4: 3%

Highest qualification is a Diploma or Advanced Diploma: 5.9%

Highest qualification is a Bachelor degree: 47.9%

Highest qualification is a Postgraduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 36.8%

Age brackets:

15-19 - 0.1%

20-24 - 6.1%

25-34 - 26.8%

35-44 - 22.6%

45-54 - 19.5%

55-59 - 8.2%

60-64 - 7.1%

65 and Over - 9.5%

*The data above is sourced from the Department of Employment’s Job Outlook website.

Related careers