Each month we take a deeper look at one career pathway in particular. For in-depth profiles of over 600 job profiles, take a look at the Indigo Careers module. This month we take a look at the role of Town Planner*.


Qualifications and courses:

You will need to have a Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) accredited qualification such as a degree or a postgraduate qualification. For degree entry you will need at least 2 A levels/3 H grades. For entry to a postgraduate course, a degree in a related subject such as geography, architecture or urban studies is required. To ensure chartered status, it is recommended that your qualifications be completed on a combined level of study, meaning both spatial planning and a specialist area of planning are covered.

Chartered (MRTPI) membership of the RTPI is available via three routes. The first is the Licentiate APC (L-APC) route, which is available after graduation from an accredited qualification. The second is the Associate APC (A-APC) route, which is available if you have relevant work experience but do not hold a fully accredited degree. The third route is the Experienced Practioner APC (EP-APC) route that recognises the skills of town planners who haven’t completed accredited degrees but have high levels of competency and experience.

Continuing professional development (CPD) forms an essential part of advancement in your career. You will be expected to undertake relevant courses and maintain an annual professional development plan.

What the work involves:

You will manage and develop urban or rural areas to best serve the population. When deciding how to use the land you will take into account commercial, social, environmental and heritage needs.

Type of person suited to this work:

You will need excellent communication skills as you will need to explain your ideas clearly and produce comprehensive written reports. You must be organised with good research, problem-solving and analytical skills to investigate the potential effects of different proposals for land use.

Specialist skills required include competency in graphic design, desktop publishing and familiarity with computer-aided design (CAD), geographical information systems (GIS) and cartography.

Working Conditions:

Regular office hours are likely, although you may sometimes need to attend meetings in the evening. Most town planners are based in offices but often go out on site visits. A driving licence might be necessary.

Future prospects:

There is a huge demand for more qualified planners in the UK and overseas. Most employers are local authorities and planning consultancies, but opportunities also exist within central government, construction companies and environmental organisations.

With experience and chartered status, you may be promoted to senior or county planning officer or you could specialise in areas such as urban design or conservation. Alternatively, you could move into related careers such as recreation management, market research or property development.


It is satisfying to deal with public problems and to improve the environment in which people live and work. It can be frustrating to compromise on planning initiatives. Dealing with angry or upset members of the public can be difficult.

Money guide

  • Newly graduated town planners could earn between £15,000 and £28,000. This will be more if you are a registered member of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).
  • With experience, salaries can range between £29,000 and £45,000.
  • Chief planning officers, heads of department and company directors can earn between £55,000 and £100,000.

Further information
Visit the Royal Town Planning Institute.

*Information in this profile taken from Careers, from Trotman Publishing – part of the Indigo family.