Urban Studies and Planning

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There are lots of starting points for choosing a career and using your subject is just one of them. You are not restricted to the career ideas below and you may wish to consider additional factors which are important to you for your future career using our Understand yourself and your options section.

Remember too that the vast majority of graduate jobs are open to graduates of any subject and so your options are much broader than the examples given below.

Firstly, have a think about what ‘using your subject’ means to you and what you’re really looking for. Do you want to apply your subject-specific knowledge or skills to the real world? Or maybe you want to continue to practice and develop these skills? Maybe it’s a broader interest in your subject that you want to keep alive by working in a relevant type of organisation?

Using your subject can help provide you with some focus for your career research, but the broader your interests the more career options you will have open to you. Use our resources below to stimulate your thinking.

Generating career ideas with Urban Studies and Planning

Using the resources below you can start to create your own list of career ideas to research

  • Look at what alumni from your department have done using the DLHE data we collect and through the University of Sheffield alumni page on LinkedIn.
  • Search for and contact alumni in your subject through our Graduate case studies database.
  • Browse the career ideas for Urban Studies and Planning graduates on Prospects and TargetJobs but keep in mind that these are not a comprehensive list of all the careers related to your subject.
  • Brainstorm ideas and do some initial investigation to find out about research, organisations, start ups, government bodies and freelancers connected to your subject. Our Information resources - Occupations section is a good place to start.

Some career ideas for Urban Studies and planning graduates

Town planner

Text and images 1Town planner – manages and monitors the development of urban and rural environments, balancing the need for new developments with environmental and other considerations. Planners may work on proposals for new developments (e.g. residential, commercial or industrial), consider planning applications from developers, and manage the longer-term development of locations. If you don’t have a relevant planning degree, it’s advantageous to study for an accredited master’s qualification.

Transport planner

Text and images 2Transport planner – works on the implementation of traffic systems for road, rail and air, seeking to improve transport systems and bring about more efficient transport networks. They need to consider environmental, economic and social issues, taking account of government policies that address the need to deliver a modern transport infrastructure, reduce pollution and promote public transport or cycling. A relevant postgraduate qualification is not essential but can add to your prospects if your degree does not include transport planning modules.

Commercial / residential property surveyor

Text and images 3Commercial/residential property surveyor - deals with the purchase, sale or leasing of residential and commercial property and land, as well as valuing property and advising clients on the economic viability of proposed commercial/residential developments. If you don’t hold an accredited degree in surveying, you are likely to need a postgraduate conversion course at master’s level to meet the academic requirements for most employers.

Planning and development surveyor

Devises and manages the strategies for development projects, for example new-build projects or the regeneration/redevelopment of a site.

Following initial assessments to judge the viability and impact of proposals, they advise clients on the different options and costs for potential developments and continue to be involved in the management of the project once it starts, liaising with other planning and construction professionals.

A relevant qualification accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is required.

Estate agent

Specialises in sales or letting of residential or business properties, businesses or land. Agents value the property based on its condition and location, and market it to potential customers, negotiating deals to get the best price for their client.

They liaise with lenders, mortgage brokers, solicitors and other estate agencies, using strong negotiation and communication skills and the ability to secure sales.

Urban designer

Develops ideas for the design of the environments people live and work in, ranging from entire towns to individual streets. As well as creative design skills, you’ll also need the ability to research and understand the physical and economic nature of a location and the needs of people using it.

A specific urban design qualification is not always necessary if you have a related qualification and/or relevant design and software skills.

Landscape architect

Plans and designs open spaces in natural and built environments, to provide aesthetically-pleasing areas that are also fit-for-purpose. They work closely with other professionals, collaborating on a varied range of projects in both urban and rural settings, e.g. gardens, country parks, and housing developments through to city-centres and leisure/sports sites.

To become a landscape architect, you would need to take an accredited professional qualification typically completed via postgraduate study.

Geographical information systems (GIS) officer

Uses information systems to store, analyse and present data about a wide variety of geographical features and structures. GIS technology permits many different forms of data to be included in production of maps, allowing for the recording of the location of various features, analysis of geographical information and the implications of proposed changes.

GIS officers work in government bodies and private companies. A postgraduate master’s GIS qualification is desired by most employers for this career.

Land / geomatic surveyor

Measures and collects data on areas of land such as information about boundaries, buildings and features, ahead of redevelopment.

Tasks can include the use of geographical information systems to analyse and interpret site features, produce surveys and provide detailed information to planners and developers. Most employers prefer an accredited surveying qualification.

Housing manager / officer

Manages the provision of housing on behalf of housing associations, local councils, charities and private sector companies. This involves setting and managing the collection of rent, advising tenants on tenant-landlord relationships, and inspecting properties and arranging repairs.

They may specialise in housing for specific groups in the community such as the homeless, minority groups or people with disabilities. Some employers run graduate training schemes which lead to relevant professional housing qualifications.

Community development worker

Helps to improve the quality of life in communities by working with local people to identify relevant action and develop services. You would act as the link between various public services and the local population, offering seeking to address social inequality in disadvantaged areas.

Relevant work experience e.g. through volunteering or a related area of work is essential in order to secure a career in this field.

Regeneration officer

Develops projects to support business growth and develop the workforce as part of neighbourhood renewal. This can include collaborating with local communities and a network of agencies to deliver regeneration projects, and helping secure grants to support improvements in infrastructure.

You would use your communication skills to work with a variety of people to secure positive outcomes to projects.

Sustainability consultant

Uses knowledge of scientific and legal issues related to the environment to help organisations develop sustainable ways of operating. Most opportunities are in the construction and engineering sectors, working on urban regeneration schemes, residential development, transport infrastructure and industrial facilities.

A degree in geography, urban studies or planning can be the basis for entry into this area of work.

Subject specific resources