Studying urban planning allows you to develop specialist knowledge in town and regional planning, providing you with a range of professional skills. Urban planning graduates go on to careers in planning, design and development, as well as in areas such as transport, economic development, urban regeneration and environmental consultancy.
Urban planning can be studied at the postgraduate level, following the completion of a cognate degree. Some urban planning graduates go on to postgraduate study to further their planning knowledge or to specialise in a particular area.
Postgraduate study, along with practical experience, is important if you want to secure chartered membership from Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).
15 Typical Employment Prospects for Urban Planning Graduates
As an urban designer, you will create practical and visually pleasing places, including buildings, open spaces and landscapes. Playing a vital part of a much bigger team, you’ll help to bring viable developments to life, ensuring that the environments you create are both useful and enjoyable.
Urban design is a relatively new profession, which has grown considerably as a career path and particularly over the last 25 years. A career in this field offers an interesting and varied environment with good opportunities for progression. The sector continues to grow at a steady rate in line with growing populations.
Most urban designers are employed by an organisation, rather than working on a freelance basis, though some go on to launch their own urban design consultancies.
Depending on the type and size of organisation you work for, you may be given some benefits such as a mobile phone or company car, as the role requires regular site visits. Learn more https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/urban-designer
Historic buildings inspector/conservation officer
In this role, urban planner duties include advising on and promoting the conservation of historic buildings, structures and areas of special historic, architectural, or artistic interest. You will work in the areas of long-term care, preservation and enhancement and may also be involved in regeneration projects that have community, economic and environmental benefits.
An entry without a degree or HND is possible, especially through the planning technician route, from where you can move across into the role of historic buildings inspector or conservation officer. A postgraduate qualification can be highly advantageous in what is a quite specialist and competitive field.
The large number of volunteers in this sector means that the search for a paid position is even more intense. Completing further study will not guarantee a job but it will improve your chances. Learn more
Local government officer
A local government officer is responsible for the practical development of council policies and procedures, and need to ensure that local services are delivered. As an officer, you’ll need to figure out how to implement cost-effective public policy.
This type of work is likely to involve contact with members of the public, councillors, administrators and specialists in other departments or other local councils or authorities.
Some posts, particularly more senior roles, also involve committee work. Some less senior roles will work more exclusively within specific departments, but can still be responsible for a variety of services. Specific activities vary depending on the local authority and department, and on the level of responsibility.
Some departments will involve a lot of work with the public, others may have a more technical function and some will work more predominantly with other council staff and departments. Learn more
As a housing manager or housing officer, you’ll manage housing and related services on behalf of housing associations, local authorities, charities and private sector organisations.
Your role will involve managing a designated patch of housing and keeping in regular contact with tenants, looking after rental income and dealing with repairs and neighbour nuisance issues.
It is common practice to work with specific clients, such as homeless people, minority groups or people with disabilities. You may have line management responsibility for a team of housing officers, rent arrears staff and tenancy support officers, and participation in more strategic projects.
Some housing organisations offer graduate trainee schemes. These schemes generally provide the opportunity to gain experience in a range of departments and sometimes offer a professional qualification. It may also be possible to secure a graduate internship on a specific project. Contact housing organisations directly for details of opportunities. Learn more
As a transport planner, you will look at ways to improve these systems or how new systems can be implemented in certain areas. You’ll need to take into consideration issues such as climate change, the economy and the environment.
The work is often related to government policies and initiatives, such as encouraging people to reduce their car use and take up walking, cycling or public transport.
Part-time work and career breaks are more likely to be offered within the public sector for transport planner, although consultancies are becoming more flexible in order to attract and retain staff. Self-employment may be possible when you have significant experience and you can work for consultancies or local authorities on a contract basis. Learn more
As a town planner, you will be involved in the management and development of cities, towns, villages and the countryside. Your aim will be to balance the conflicting demands of housing, industrial development, agriculture, recreation, transport and the environment, in order to allow appropriate development to take place.
If you work within a rural area, you’ll need to ensure that development is sustainable and that the right balance of development is achieved to preserve the countryside. You will also aim to make a positive contribution towards tackling the effects of climate change.
You can get into town planning with a degree in any subject but specific degrees in planning are available. To become a chartered town planner you will need to complete an RTPI accredited degree, either at undergraduate or postgraduate level, completing either a combined qualification or a spatial qualification and a specialist qualification.
If your degree is not accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), you can still qualify for chartered status by completing an accredited postgraduate qualification. Graduates from a range of subjects are accepted onto postgraduate courses but the following subjects may be particularly relevant: Learn more
As a landscape architect, you’ll create landscapes and plan, design and manage open spaces, including both natural and built environments. Your work will provide innovative and aesthetically-pleasing environments for people to enjoy while ensuring that changes to the natural environment are appropriate, sensitive and sustainable.
You will collaborate closely with other professionals, you’ll work on a diverse range of projects in both urban and rural settings – from parks, gardens and housing estates to city-centre design, sporting sites and motorway construction.
Landscape architecture is a chartered profession and the first step towards getting chartered status is to ensure that you have reached Masters level on a higher education course accredited by the LI. Undergraduate degree courses typically last four years, with an option of taking a year out to undertake paid work experience.
If you already have an undergraduate degree that isn’t accredited by the LI, you can still enter the profession by completing an LI-accredited postgraduate conversion course.
These courses generally last between 18 months and two years full time, or longer if part-time. Learn more https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/landscape-architect
Community development worker
As a community development worker, you’ll help communities to bring about social change and improve the quality of life in their local area. Community development workers act as the link between communities and a range of other local authority and voluntary sector providers, such as the police, social workers and teachers.
You will frequently be involved in addressing inequality. Projects often target communities perceived to be culturally, economically or geographically disadvantaged. Although this area of work is open to all graduates and those with an HND, a qualification in a social sciences subject may improve your chances.
Entry without a degree or HND is possible, although career development is more restricted. A degree in any subject will be an advantage in gaining higher-level posts. In community development, relevant experience is far more important than the subject area studied. Learn more
As an estates manager, you’ll be concerned with the historical or heritage preservation of a site and your aim will be to enable an estate to run as effectively as possible. Through careful management and coordination, you’ll seek to solve problems and maximise financial returns from the estate.
You will also work to improve other areas, such as health outcomes or improved social integration. The nature of this role can vary according to the type of employer and estate you work for. For example, an estates manager for the National Trust will have quite a different role to an NHS estate and facilities manager.
An important part of your work will be to ensure that longer-term issues are planned for. For instance, if an estate is looking to increase visitor numbers using a house and gardens, there could be a need for improved access, parking and toilet facilities, or you may be required to facilitate an additional service within a hospital estate, without additional buildings. Learn more
As an environmental manager or sustainability manager, you’ll be responsible for overseeing the environmental performance of private, public and voluntary sector organisations. Your role will involve examining corporate activities to determine where improvements can be made and ensuring compliance with environmental legislation across the organisation.
You will also create, implement and monitor environmental strategies to promote sustainable development. Your wide remit means you’ll review the whole operation, carrying out environmental audits and assessments, identifying and resolving environmental problems and ensuring necessary changes are implemented.
A relevant degree, or postgraduate qualification, provides the necessary skills for employment in this field. However, a business qualification or experience in the area of business activity carried out by a company may be considered as important as knowledge of environmental aspects. Learn more
Civil Service administrator
The Civil Service is made up of a large number of different departments, which implement government policies and deliver services to the public. Civil Service administrators may have direct dealings with individuals and have the chance to make a real difference to people’s lives or may conduct research, compile reports and work on policy documents.
During the recruitment process, you’ll be assessed against key competencies that cover skills, knowledge and behaviours. You will need to meet the nationality requirements.
Any job in the Civil Service is open to UK nationals or those who have dual nationality (with one being British). Some posts are open to Commonwealth citizens, and nationals of the member states of the European Economic Area (EEA). Learn more
Planning and development surveyor
Your role as a planning and development surveyor is to advise on all aspects of planning and development in order to help your clients make informed choices about investment. This can include issues such as site planning, development, conservation and transport options.
Working in the public or private sector, you’ll consider a range of complex economic, social and environmental factors when providing clients with critical information.
Your expertise is particularly critical where development funds are coming from the public purse, and careful planning and financial consideration needs to be evidenced.
A property-related undergraduate degree is not essential. For applicants whose first degree is not property-related (or non-cognate), an RICS-approved postgraduate conversion qualification is required.
Some organisations, particularly the large commercial firms of surveyors, welcome applications from those with non-property degrees and will support or sponsor conversion training while you are employed, either by day release or by distance learning. Learn more
As a sustainability consultant, you’ll promote sustainable solutions for the often conflicting needs of people, the environment, development and successful business. You’ll help businesses develop an environmental conscience, while simultaneously saving them money by making choices that positively impact the earth and all who live on it.
Your work will involve evaluating the impact a company is having on the environment (for example, their carbon footprint) and then minimising that impact or planning the use of limited resources.
You may be involved in all or some stages of a project from planning and building, through to remediation, restoration and reuse of land and property,
Sustainability consultants come from a range of backgrounds, including the environmental, built environment, construction and business-based careers.
Flexibility is important when getting your first job and you may need to get experience in a relevant area of work before moving into a sustainability consultant role. Many start their careers as environmental impact assessors and there are a number of graduate schemes available for both roles. Learn more
Fire risk assessor
As a fire risk assessor, you’ll identify fire hazards and risks, record your findings and advice on fire prevention. You’ll identify people at risk, as well as evaluate, remove or reduce the risks.
Fire risk assessors prepare emergency plans and provide training to all employees, updating and reviewing fire risk assessment regularly. You’ll also be tasked with informing and supporting health and safety managers in a workplace or public place.
Not only do you have the potential as a fire risk assessor to prevent the loss of life and the cost of damage to property, but fire risk assessment is also a legal requirement for any place of work or business that gives access to members of the public.
Government guidelines state that it’s the legal responsibility of an employer, owner, landlord, an occupier or anyone else with control of premises used for employment or public services to take responsibility for fire safety.
Fire risk assessors work to strict guidelines set out by the government and fire safety experts and must ensure that buildings and services are compliant with all regulations such as
Higher education isn’t necessary but a degree in fire safety, building surveying or a health and safety-related subject can help. Having a broader degree in a subject such as civil engineering can be helpful, although this isn’t a specific requirement. Learn more
Specialist courses for urban planning graduates can allow you to focus on topics including transport, urban design, urban regeneration, environmental planning or infrastructure.