Town planner

spatial planner urban designer planning officer
Construction and building

Career outlook for town planner

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would help to shape the way towns and cities develop and improve the environments people live in. You would balance the demands placed on land by housing, business, transport and leisure with the needs of the community.

You could work in a wide variety of planning areas, for example:

  • Transport
  • Urban design
  • Environmental
  • Utilities
  • Regeneration
  • Conservation

You could specialise in just one type of planning or work for an organisation that operates across several areas. You might work in either the public or private sector.

Your tasks would depend on your role. You might:

  • Make plans for creating affordable, energy efficient homes
  • Study the impact of new transport schemes
  • Plan renewable energy generation sites like wind farms
  • Redesign urban spaces to improve safety, reduce traffic and increase the number of green areas
  • Develop parks, woodlands and waterways in a sustainable way
  • Conserve old buildings, archaeological sites and areas of interest
  • Manage waste and work on initiatives like recycling
  • Develop planning policies for government at a local and national level
  • Make decisions about planning applications
  • Advise the public, businesses and land developers on planning policies, rules and regulations
  • Enforce planning rules and regulations on building projects
  • Organise meetings to listen to ideas and hear concerns about planning proposals from local people

You would use surveying techniques, geographical information systems (GIS) and computer-aided design (CAD) to draw up plans. You would then make recommendations to councils.

Working conditions


You would usually work 35 to 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. You may have to work outside of your normal hours to attend events such as public meetings. Part-time and flexible hours may be available.


You would be based in a planning office, but would be expected to travel to meetings or to visit sites.


You would travel to go to meetings and visit sites.

UK employment status





Self employed


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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.


You'll need a degree (SCQF Level 9/10) or postgraduate qualification (SCQF Level 11) approved by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). 

Your accredited degree will allow you to work towards Chartered Membership. The RTPI has more information.

If you have a non-accredited degree in a related subject, you can take an RTPI accredited postgraduate. Related subjects include: 

  • Architecture
  • Surveying
  • Geography
  • Environmental science

The RTPI offers an alternative route to Chartered Membership which doesn't involve a degree. If you have experience as town planning support staff, you may be eligible for training to grant you Chartered Membership. 

To enter a degree (SCQF level 9/10) usually requires National 5 qualifications and a minimum of four Highers or a relevant HNC/HND.

To enter a postgraduate course (SCQF level 11) you will usually require an honours degree in a relevant subject. 

Useful subjects

  • English (required by most courses) 
  • Maths (required by most courses)
  • Business management
  • Economics
  • Geography
  • Science subejcts
  • Technologies subjects