Town Planner

Job Description:

Town planners help shape the way towns and cities develop, and balance the demands on land with the needs of the community.

Job Category:
Government & Public Services

What you will do:

You may work on projects to:

  • Assess the effect of new rail links or roads
  • Plan for houses and renewable energy generation sites like wind farms
  • Redesign urban spaces and develop parks, woodlands and waterways in a sustainable way
  • Conserve old buildings and archaeological sites

You could:

  • Develop local or national planning policies for government
  • Prepare and make decisions about planning applications, plans and proposals
  • Advise the public and business professionals on planning rules, regulations and policy
  • Research and assess technical information, data and surveys
  • Visit sites and attend planning inquiries
  • Write reports for politicians, developers and the public


You’ll need:

  • Knowledge of English language
  • Knowledge of Geography
  • To be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • The ability to work well with others (teamwork)
  • Analytical thinking skills
  • Excellent verbal communication skills
  • Persistence and determination
  • Ambition and a desire to succeed
  • Business management skills
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

Becoming a town planner involves a combination of skills in urban design, geography, policy analysis, and community engagement. While there aren’t strict GCSE subjects required for this career, there are certain subjects that can provide a strong foundation for pursuing a degree and career in town planning, such as:

  1. Geography: Geography provides insights into human settlements, urban development, land use patterns, and environmental considerations. A strong understanding of geography is fundamental to town planning.
  2. Mathematics: Town planners often work with data and statistics, perform calculations related to zoning and land use, and assess the feasibility of projects. Strong mathematical skills are beneficial.
  3. English: Effective communication is essential for writing reports, drafting proposals, and communicating with colleagues and stakeholders. Clear written and verbal communication skills are important for a town planner.
  4. Environmental Science: This subject can provide an understanding of environmental impacts and sustainability considerations, which are crucial aspects of modern town planning.
  5. Economics or Business Studies (Optional): Some understanding of economics and business concepts can be helpful when considering the economic feasibility of development projects and urban policies.
  6. History or Social Studies (Optional): Understanding the historical development of cities and the social factors that shape urban areas can provide valuable context for town planning.
  7. IT or Computer Science (Optional): Town planners often use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and other software tools to analyze and visualize spatial data. Basic IT skills can be advantageous.
  8. Art or Design (Optional): While not mandatory, having a sense of design and aesthetics can be helpful when considering urban aesthetics, public spaces, and community engagement.

You can get into this job through:

  • A university course
  • An apprenticeship
  • Working towards this role

You’ll need a degree or a postgraduate qualification accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

Subjects include:

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

You can do postgraduate qualification in planning if you have a degree in an unrelated subject.

Entry requirements

  • A degree in any subject for a postgraduate course

You could do a chartered town planner degree apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

  • For a higher or degree apprenticeship requires higher marks

You could qualify while working as a planning technician or other support role.

You’ll need the backing of your employer and you’ll combine practical experience with part-time or distance learning study towards an accredited planning qualification.

You’ll find it useful to get as much work experience as possible. This will give you a better understanding of the career, and the contacts you make may help you to find paid work.


Working Hours and Environment:

A typical week consists of 38-40 hours of work. You could be required to work weekends, attend events and appointments.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience:

  • You could apply for chartered town planner status, and then become a planner or senior planner.
  • With at least 10 years’ experience you could become a senior manager or planning consultant.
  • You could work as a self-employed consultant.

You could also move into environmental management, urban regeneration, recreation management and property development.