How To Become An Urban Planner In Australia?

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Students want to know how they can become urban planners in Australia.


Are you innovative, logical, and good at solving problems? If yes, a career as an Urban Planner might be perfect for you.


Urban Planners design and execute plans and strategies for the controlled use of urban land. They also offer advice on economic, social, and environmental factors that affects land use.


To become an Urban Planner in Australia, you need a bachelor's degree in urban, environmental, or regional planning. Additionally, study for a relevant postgraduate qualification to work as a professionally accredited urban planner in Australia.


Is an urban planner profession right for you? Read this blog to learn about the job description and how to become an urban planner, including the skills, education requirements, qualifications, urban planning jobs, and salary to launch your career.



1. What Is Urban Planning?


Urban design is a formal and collaborative process to manage community growth and development. It explores the planning and design of public spaces, considering social, aesthetic, economic, and environmental issues.


Urban planning includes technical and social sciences, such as engineering, population growth, environment, landscape architecture, natural resources archaeology, infrastructure, economy, design, natural and cultural heritage, and public services.


Urban planning in Australia ensures that towns and cities have vibrant economies and liveable communities and are environmentally sustainable, providing a high quality of life. 



2. What Are Urban Planners?


Urban Planners identify community needs and design programs to use urban land to make liveable communities and sustainable cities.


They use GIS (Geographic Information System) and other tools to analyze data and develop infrastructure and services to create or revitalize physical facilities in cities, towns, counties, and metropolitan areas.


Urban Planners use their analytical and engineering skills to positively impact environmental sustainability, social equity, and economic resilience in cities.


They actively engage with critical issues such as increased urbanization, sustainable resourcing, and climate change and develop plans and policies for the best use of natural resources and land.



3. What Does An Urban Planner Do?


The primary function of an urban planner is to devise plans for effective land use in a development project. Their other duties include:


  • Examine client vision, goals, and budgetary limits for land development to prepare appropriate plans and designs.

  • Conduct site surveys, examinations, and impact assessments 

  • Research zoning areas, building codes, regulations, and legislative planning.

  • Evaluate site plans as submitted by developers

  • Visualize and build infrastructure facilities 

  • Consult concerned government, organizations, community, developers, investors, and individuals to gain their viewpoint on all factors that impacts the planning process.

  • Plan large-scale projects such as new cities, transport routes, ports, suburbs, recreational places, industrial areas, and communities in metropolitan areas  

  • Analyze information on specific land on various parameters such as socioeconomic factors, legislative material, cultural environment, and demographic information.

  • Present projects and reports to officials, stakeholders, and commissions

  • Forecast population growth and conduct spatial, land impact, and geographical analysis

  • Stay up-to-date with changes in building and zoning codes.

  • Acts as a mediator to resolve disputes over planning proposals and projects

  • Create elaborate designs, plans, and cost reports

  • May speak at public conferences and appear before the government to elucidate planning proposals.

  • Assist in obtaining necessary permits

  • Supervise other professionals

  • Build long-term objectives to deal with population growth and climate change after consulting with affected communities



4. What Skills Do You Need To Become An Urban Planner?


Urban planners rely on a range of technical and soft skills. 



Hard Skills They Use In Their Daily Work:


  • Proficiency in working with technologies such as spreadsheet software, database applications, programs to create presentations, and geographic information systems to organize and analyze statistical information

  • Strong mathematics skills and knowledge of engineering principles to design, develop and enhance buildings, land, and roads

  • Good spatial knowledge

  • Good understanding of economic, social, environmental, and cultural issues



Soft Skills They Use:


  • Creative vision 

  • Innovative thinking

  • Good data-gathering and analysis abilities

  • Communication and Negotiation skills

  • Collaboration skills

  • Project management skills

  • Teamwork skills

  • Good Planning skills

  • Able to mediate, facilitate and advocate

  • Able to produce elaborate and precise work

  • Problem-solving skills

  • Patience 

  • Logical

  • Decision-making skills

  • Leadership abilities



5. How Can You Qualify For An Urban Planning Role?


You need formal qualifications to become an urban planner in Australia. Employers usually prefer applicants holding at least an undergraduate or postgraduate qualification in urban planning or a related field.  


  1. Gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education in English and mathematics 

  2. Complete a 4-year tertiary qualification in a related area, such as a Bachelor of Urban Planning, Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning, Bachelor of Urban Development, or a Bachelor of Urban and Environmental Planning. 

  3. Look for work placement opportunities such as voluntary roles or summer placements to develop more skills while studying.

  4. Become a member of the   to stay updated with industry laws, technologies and regulations. 

  5. Earn a related postgraduate qualification, such as a Master of Urban and Regional Planning or a Master of City Planning to improve your career prospects.



6. Steps To Become An Urban Planner In Australia


Follow the below steps to become and work as a qualified urban planner in Australia:



Step 1: Complete an Undergraduate Degree


An undergraduate degree can help you build the technical skills required for this profession. Moreover, the degree programs pave the path to advancing your career in urban planning or pursuing a postgraduate program. 


Consider completing a foundational education in the following areas:




Step 2: Study for An Urban Planner Degree


The next step to becoming an urban planner is to study urban, environmental, or regional planning at university. Relevant tertiary qualifications that you can consider are:


  • Bachelor of Urban Planning 

  • Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning

  • Bachelor of Urban Development

  • Bachelor of Urban and Environmental Planning

  • Bachelor of Urban Development (Honours) (Urban and Regional Planning)



During your bachelor's program, you can meet industry experts and build your professional profile. Refer to the Planning Institute of Australia to learn more about accredited courses.



Step 3: Seek Work Experience


Along with theoretical knowledge, you also require practical experience in urban planning. Look for entry-level positions, voluntary positions or internship opportunities to gain more skills, expand your professional network and discover other areas of planning.


A few graduate courses in urban planning involve practical coursework that provides fieldwork experience. Completing those courses can help you land a junior role in public policy, construction, or transportation planning.


You can even assist experienced planners in environmental studies or revitalization projects in the following settings:


  • Consulting agencies

  • Research and education facilities

  • Government offices

  • Architecture and development companies



Step 4: Apply For A Membership With The Institute Of Planners


The Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) is Australia's national industry body regulating planning. It offers accreditation for urban planning coursework. Membership opportunities are also available based on educational background and work experience.


Students can join this professional organization while taking a planning course. Graduates can become members after two years of completing a PIA coursework or urban planning-related degree program.


Getting PIA Membership will make you a more employable candidate and help you stand out to prospective employers and clients. Moreover, the institute has a repository of knowledge that can help you in your future work.



Step 5: Do Networking


Networking with companies and people in your field can benefit your career.


It helps you with references, find mentors in advanced positions, share experiences, learn from experts, stay updated with the latest trends, laws, and technologies, and improve future job prospects.


Thus, networking is a perfect opportunity for a good start. Joining professional organizations and attending seminars, workshops, and conferences, are a few ways to start networking.



Step 6: Complete An Advanced Qualification


You can become an urban planner with a bachelor's degree. However, completing a postgraduate qualification, such as a Master of City Planning or a Master of Urban and Regional Planning, gives you the accreditation to work as a professional urban planner. 


It also facilitates further learning when applying for managerial roles.



Industry bodies:




7. Urban Planning Courses In Australia


Urban planning courses can help you get a job in urban, regional, city, and town planning. The classes teach about the intelligent organization of infrastructure, buildings, and landscapes.


Students learn how to construct a site environmentally. The courses teach professional communication, analytical and reasoning abilities, which are essential to work as professional planners in Australia.


Do you want to have a dynamic career in urban planning and design? If yes, the following courses will help you.:



Graduate Certificate in Urban Planning and Design (Online) - The University of Sydney


The Graduate Certificate is a short online course that gives a university qualification. The course is ideal for aspiring urban design and planning professionals who wish to gain the foundational knowledge, practical skills, and experience to work in sustainable urban environments.


The course comprises 4-subjects, and it takes about six months full-time or 12 months part-time to complete the course. This foundation course is a pathway to a Master's Degree or Graduate Diploma In urban planning and design.



Graduate Diploma in Urban Design (Online) –  The University of Western Australia


This one-year full-time course is best suited for professionals with a background in architecture, environmental science, or strategic planning wanting to build practical design capabilities.


With industry-informed content and studio-based projects, the online course teaches students how to design creative and resilient solutions that improve the urban living experience.



Graduate Diploma in Urban and Regional Planning - The University of Sydney


This one-year graduate diploma course is suitable for fresh graduates in any field and for well-established professionals wishing to expand their skill set and expertise.


The course helps develop specialized knowledge, valuable skills, and practical experience to make economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable decisions.



Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning – University of South Australia


Are you looking for a standard qualification in urban planning? A four-year Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning equips you with job-ready skills and knowledge to kickstart your urban planning career.


This PIA-accredited degree course teaches students about planning laws and community consultation, including modern mapping technologies.



Bachelor of Urban Development (Honours) – QUT University 


This four-year full-time course prepares students to design large-scale projects with developers, government, and community groups. Students learn to plan and manage using natural resources and land to meet human requirements sustainably.


After graduating from the course, you can work in transport planning, urban design, environmental protection, open space, recreational planning, development assessment, and social and economic development.



Master of Urban and Regional Planning - University of South Australia


Do you want to gain expertise in law, planning theory, and practice? Then this postgraduate course is ideal for you. 


This 1.5-year full-time course gives a solid understanding of ethics of practice, land development technologies, and the development of plans that meets the requirements of government agencies and communities.



Master of Urban Planning – The University of Melbourne


It is a two-year full-time professional degree focusing on Australian International policy and planning. It gives specialized knowledge on the construction of cities and ways to cope with challenging environmental and population issues.



8. How Long Does It Take To Become An Urban Planner?


To become and work as a professionally accredited urban planner, you would require a three-year undergraduate bachelor's degree and two years of Master of Urban Planning.


It may take at least five years of study before you can start working as a qualified urban planner in Australia. 



9. Where Do Urban Planners Work In Australia?


Urban planners usually work as independent contractors to develop and map residential neighbourhoods, corporate buildings, or large-scale projects.


These include urban renewal projects, new suburbs, industrial areas, towns, commercial and retail developments, and transportation links.


The disciplines where you can find city planners include:


  • Heritage conservation

  • Sustainable development

  • Environmental planning

  • Transportation planning

  • Coastal planning

  • Suburban development

  • Energy-efficient planning

  • Infrastructure planning

  • Natural resource management

  • International developments



They usually work for a variety of clients, including:


  • Private firms

  • Local and state government organizations

  • Developers 

  • Metropolitan councils

  • Local community groups

  • Private property owners 

  • Regional centres

  • Large corporations



10. Areas Of Specialization For Urban Planners In Australia


You can work as an Urban and Regional Planner, Transportation Planner, Land Planner, or Town Planner, or specialize in various fields, such as:


  • Urban design 

  • Residential planning 

  • Environmental impact assessment 

  • Transport planning 

  • Commercial and industrial planning 

  • Tourism planning 

  • Strategic planning

  • Heritage planning

  • Social or disaster planning 



11. What Are The Work Conditions For An Urban Planner In Australia?


Urban planners spend most of their workday in an office researching, preparing plans using software programs and writing reports. They also visit remote job sites to check assessments.


Planners collaborate with surveyors, urban designers, architectsengineersproperty developers, and transport planners to complete the project and ensure plans comply with regulations.


The profession requires spending a lot of time in meetings, discussions, and public communications. Urban planners are also called upon to appear as witnesses during court hearings.


Around 80% of planners work full-time for 42 hours per week. They may even need to work outside of their scheduled work hours. The average workforce age is 38 years, and nearly half the percentage of workers are female.



12. Job prospects for Urban Planners in Australia


Urban planning is a technical and political process that uses land spaces and shapes the urban environment, including cities, villages, and suburbs. The process is vital to determine the future of urban regions, setting goals, and forming strategies to achieve them.


Key staffing agencies are always on the hunt for Urban Planners. With over 86% of Australians living in urban areas, the need for urban planning and urban planning professionals is constantly growing. The future career prospects for Urban Planners seem optimistic and promising.


Job opportunities for urban planners are available throughout Australia, even in more regional locations. News South Wales and Victoria have a large share of workers.


According to the National Job Outlook website, the number of workers has grown very strongly over the last five years. The occupation will likely grow simultaneously over the coming years, from 18,800 in 2020 to 21,400 by 2025.



13. How Much Salary Does An Urban Planner Earn In Australia?


The Urban planner's salary in Australia depends on the level of education, job location, and work experience. The average annual wage for an Urban Planner is AU$74,630 or an hourly equivalent of AU$33.06.



Your Potential Slary Increases as You Gain Experience:


  • Entry-level Urban Planners (< 1-year experience) earn AU$56,331 

  • Early career Urban Planners (1 to 4 years of experience) earn AU$68,413 

  • Mid-career Urban Planners (5 to 9 years of experience) earn AU$86,438 

  • Experienced Urban Planner (10 to 19 years of experience) earns AU$97,191 



Metropolitan Areas and Cities May Offer Higher Salaries Than The Rest:


  • Melbourne VIC: $98,765 per year

  • Sydney NSW: $96,674 per year

  • Brisbane QLD: $94,609 per year

  • Newcastle NSW: $91,452 per year

  • Coburg VIC: $90,761 per year

  • Footscray VIC: $84,331 per year

  • Gordon NSW: $76,633 per year

  • Coffs Harbour NSW: $63,151 per year



14. How Much Salary Does An Urban Regional Planner Earn In Australia?


The average urban and regional planner salary in Australia is AU$70,939 per year or AU$57.50 per hour. 


Here is what an urban regional planner earns in different stages of his career: 


  • Entry-level Urban and Regional Planner: AU$55,496 

  • Early career Urban and Regional Planner: AU$65,795 

  • Mid-career Urban and Regional Planner: AU$71,211 

  • Experienced Urban and Regional Planner: AU$78,544 



15. Is Urban Planning A Good Career In Australia?


There is a constant need for urban planners in Australia, as almost everyone lives in towns or cities. As the current market lacks an adequate number of qualified urban planners, professionals from the urban planning industry are in high demand.


Future job growth will create employment opportunities for urban planning professionals. So, if you are a budding urban planner, you can rest assured of job security and stability in this profession.


Moreover, when working as an urban planner, you will improve your knowledge of urban design, architecture, property economics, law, business management, and landscape architecture.


Suppose you are imaginative, creative, and interested in economics, art and design. In that case, a career in urban and regional planning can be a good option.



16. Conclusion


A career in Urban planning is ideal for those looking for a fulfilling, versatile, and future-proof sector with ample scope for career advancement. As an urban planner, you contribute to helping cities grow, promote a healthy and safe lifestyle, and develop the nation.


To work in this multidisciplinary industry, you must pick a specific niche and specialize.


Go for a course where you can choose a minor that matches your career aspirations and personal ambitions to maximize your job opportunities.


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