This is an ideal career for visionary thinkers. Urban and regional planners specialise in the development and re-development of existing towns, cities and rural areas. You plan for the future growth of regions, urban areas, industrial and commercial estates, recreation areas and open space. You work on projects to ensure the optimum relationship with the surrounding environment. In doing so, you improve the quality of life of people and aim to have safe, healthy, efficient and aesthetically pleasing environments.
You develop long and short term policies and plans for managing the use of land and resources. You plan the development of urban, suburban, and rural communities, and advise on the economic, environmental, social and cultural needs of the area. This involves recommending locations for houses, businesses, roads, schools, transportation, zoning, and other infrastructure.
You also assess how economic, legal, cultural, and physical factors affect land use and analyse their impact. You may design long term strategies to deal with growth and change, taking into account the needs of the future population. On very large projects, urban and regional planners assist in the development of suburbs, towns, industrial estates and the infrastructure to support them such as transportation, water, energy, telecommunications and other essential services.
What you do every day
As an urban and regional planner you may:
carry out surveys and write reports on the impact of land and resource usage;
offer advice to companies, government organisations, and communities about new development or redevelopment projects;
draft plans for those projects;
undertake economic, social and environmental impact studies;
work with community developers, suggesting changes to help them gain approval for planning permits;
report on ways to make the most efficient use of land and resources during development projects; and
supervise work with associates and developers.
You need to stay up to date on economic and legal issues, such as zoning codes, building codes and environmental regulations. Your work may require you to work with communities, economic consultants, surveyors, architects, engineers, environmentalists, conservationists, property developers, community services, and transport planners.
Personality that best fits this career
Urban and regional planners must be interested in social, economic, environmental and cultural issues. You are a visionary thinker while enjoying technical work and having analytical and problem solving skills. You need a good eye for detail, as well the intellectual ability to consider a range of complex issues at the same time. Good verbal and written communication skills are important, as you interact with a range of experts and develop reports, proposals and plans.
Best thing about this career
Urban and regional planners carry the weight of future infrastructure on their shoulders. Your work is interesting and challenging, and the recommendations and plans you devise have a large impact on the world around you. It is a respected occupation that has positive job prospects considering the expected population growth locally in Australia but particularly overseas in places such as China.
Worst thing about this career
Very large decisions attract a large amount of comment and mistakes never go away. Your work is in the public domain and is about the future of a neighbourhood, community or even a city. Pressure to plan accurately and insightfully can be daunting, not to mention that plans do not always suit everyone, so expectation and blame can surround your work.