CAREER GUIDES

Here's how urban and regional planners work to optimise land to support and advance communities

The work focuses on issues such as population growth and migration patterns

Image: 123RF/trots1905.

Urban and regional planners focus on improving the living conditions of people. They estimate future needs for housing, business and industrial sites, community facilities and open spaces to meet the needs of expansion and renewal.

Planners manage our towns and rural areas on everyone's behalf. They have to encourage development for the purpose of economic growth while at the same time protecting our environment and architectural heritage.

Their main role is to balance various needs (those of the environment, the local economy and the local population) and to come up with innovative solutions.

Important aspects are understanding population trends, to predict the demands that will be made on an area, whether urban or rural,  and liaising with the public and councillors, attending public meetings about planning issues, such as proposals for a new road or school.

They present evidence at meetings, objectively analysing and evaluating other peoples' evidence, and prepare reports and plans relating to a variety of projects – from house extensions to international airports

The work also entails further investigating the nature and extent of problems concerning prospective development such as projecting future needs in traffic and transportation. They need to keep up with legal issues involving community development and changes in housing and building codes.

The growing South African population and quick urbanisation offers urban and regional planners the opportunity to play a role in the development of affordable housing and effective infrastructure. The need to conserve historical and natural environments has also become an important development issue. 

Most of the work is done in an office but it is also necessary to go out on site to see whether everything is done according to proposed development plans. Urban and regional planners work closely with architects, landscape architects, civil engineers, construction managers, economists, sociologists, surveyors, administrators and management on matters concerning public interest and industry.

Important skills for urban and regional planners are verbal and written communication skills, commercial awareness, project management, team-working skills, research skills and the ability to work on a number of different problems at once.

Watch the video to learn more:

Personal requirements

  • Above average intelligence
  • Creative and concerned with improving society and living standards
  • Ability for three-dimensional perception
  • Integrity, tact and sociability
  • Wide general knowledge
  • Original and have initiative
  • Good planner and can visualise outcomes

How to enter

Schooling & school subjects compulsory subjects: Mathematics, recommended subjects: Physical ScienceEngineering and Graphic Design 

Additional: 

Each institution has its own entry requirements.

What to study

Degree: Urban/Town and Regional Planning - US, UJ, UP, UV, NWUPostgraduate: qualifications can be obtained at the above universities.

In these cases students have to be in possession of an approved degree (not necessarily in Urban and Regional Planning), for example, a BEng (Civil), BSc or B degrees in Architecture or Surveying. Most of the Masters degrees are 2 years in duration.

Diploma: N.Dip: Town and Regional Planning - CPUT, DUT - with this qualification the candidates are known as town and regional planning technicians.

All graduated town and regional planners may register at the South African Council for Planners (SACPLAN) after completion of at least three years of approved postgraduate practical experience.

Important skills for urban and regional planners are verbal and written communication skills, commercial awareness, project management, team-working skills, research skills and the ability to work on a number of different problems at once.

 

Employment

  • Municipalities
  • Provincial planning departments
  • Property developers
  • Private consultants
  • Universities, universities of technology and research institutes
  • Self-employment, as a consultant

Getting started

  • Try to obtain vacation or part-time work in the offices of a town and regional planner or the planning department of your local authority
  • Arrange to speak to town and regional planners about this type of career and ask permission to observe them at work
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