Is Urban Planning For You? – The Definitive Checklist | Top Universities

Is Urban Planning For You? – The Definitive Checklist

By Mathilde Frot

Updated March 8, 2021 Updated March 8, 2021

Behind every swarming metropolis, new bike path or development project is an anonymous urban planner armed with GPS, GIS, and Lego.  If you’re thinking of entering the sector, be warned: the competition is fierce and urban planning jobs can be few and far between, depending on where you live. Make sure you’re the right fit by consulting our checklist.


Does this sound like you?

  • I enjoy working with others and coordinating large projects.
  • I’m a confident communicator and speaker.
  • I enjoy mediating between different community interests to facilitate projects.
  • I enjoy working with and for the public, and am ethically minded.
  • I’m a creative and hard-headed pragmatist.
  • I’m comfortable extracting valuable insight from complex data and studies.
  • I’m goal-oriented and able to keep an eye on the big picture.

Are you interested in…?

  • Urban spatial structure
  • How cities work
  • Urban life
  • Sustainable development
  • The social and environmental impact of planning decisions on communities
  • The interplay between transportation, services, the economy and land use regulations
  • Demographic trends in population, employment and health

Does your perfect working day include…?

  • Crunching data
  • Reading through environmental reports
  • Chatting with a variety of different people
  • Figuring out the perfect layout for a space or project
  • Typing digits and letters on your phone
  • Using a Global Positioning System (GPS), a Geographic Information System (GIS), and a laser printer

Are you willing to…?

  • Face tough competition for urban planning jobs
  • Get a master’s degree in order to land your first urban planning job
  • Do paid and unpaid urban planning internships during your studies
  • Work under strict non-negotiable deadlines
  • Manage a potentially stressful workload


Phew! Still fancy pursuing a career in urban planning? 

This article was originally published in April 2016 . It was last updated in March 2021

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I'm originally French but I grew up in Casablanca, Kuala Lumpur and Geneva. When I'm not writing for QS, you'll usually find me sipping espresso(s) with a good paperback.

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