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Why picking the right path in planning is essential

Published on: 11 Mar 2016

A planner starting out on a career must make some interesting choices. Do you adhere to the well-trodden route into local government where it is the traditional view that you will receive a thorough grounding in the main disciplines?

Many graduate planners take this road and do very well. Most people agree that local authorities also offer chances for progression and professional development.

Professional planners can, of course, move in and out of the public sector during their career, which may take in private or third sector involvement, or even an academic role. It can only be a good thing for a planner’s career if they have worked across different sectors and even planning disciplines.

It’s unusual to start your career with a private consultancy, but not unheard of. Working in private practice requires an acumen for the financial side of the business.

This is usually gained by working for a consultancy, but local authority planners may also be involved in managing their own cost centres and delivering value for money. It’s also possible to get experience on a study placement or internship.

Third sector planners must also have a head for finance, as the spending of charities and social enterprises can be heavily scrutinised by funders.

There is less drive to generate revenue and more to spend money wisely; third sector planners are often involved in environment, heritage and conservation, and sensitivity to these elements is a necessity.

Planners in the charitable sector must show they embrace an employer’s values. They also need to be self-starters, as planners tend to be members of small teams in this area.

Planners considering careers in academia need to show they have the intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm for research. Academics are often at the cutting edge of thinking about planning and can influence practitioners through publications and advisory bodies.

Academic planners will often practice in tandem with teaching and research. Teaching is a critical part of the role, so experience of working with young people would be an advantage.

Planning is as diverse as the society that planners work in and presents ambitious practitioners with chances to explore every aspect of planning, developing, conserving and regenerating the built environment.

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Planner cover Guide 2015

To read more from the Planner 2015 Guide to Career Development please click here.