23 Aug 2018

Considering a Career as a Planner or Urban Designer? Five Things You Need to Know First!

If you are interested in pursuing a career in these areas, here is a list of things to note beforehand so you can make an informed decision.

  1. Sustainable Urban Planning is the Next Big Thing… And You Can Be Part of It!
    The population currently living in urban areas consumes the majority of our planet's energy and resources, producing the majority of greenhouse gases. Also, the urbanisation process is so intense that by 2050 two-third of the world’s population will live in cities. These figures are sufficient to make us aware that the quality of life of billions of people will depend upon the extent to which urban agglomerations will be capable of becoming virtuous. Transforming the cities of today into sustainable cities, therefore, has become an inevitable course of action and, as a planner or designer, you will be able to give your contribution towards this change.
  2. It is Not Only about Creativity…
    Firstly, yes, creativity can be learned! It’s a misconception that you need to have an innate talent for it. It is just that for some of us it takes a bit more patience and practice to develop a creative mind. 
    Creativity plays an important role in design and planning but planning and design are very interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary in nature. Any project will involve a variety of people with the most diverse skills and background. Organisational and analytical skills along with a scientific mind are as important as creativity. Planning and design also include a lot of team work so you will need good communication and political negotiation knowledge.
  3. Urban Planning Means Dealing with “Wicked Problems”
    Planning and policy problems are impossible to be fully described and defined. Unlike purely scientific issues, those problems do not have an “optimal solution” or, even worse, they may not have a solution at all. Planning issues are so complex that it is not possible to find a sole and unique response to them. There is no right or wrong as there is no objective definition of public good or equity. All this can be frustrating but also fascinating and definitely not boring or repetitive. It means each planning project is unique, there is no “one fits all recipe”. It also means each project is a new challenge, where you will be asked to build a new design approach from scratch and find the best possible solution to it.
  4. As a Planner or Designer, Your Career Opportunities Can Be Extensive
    Depending on the specialisation you will choose, you will have different types of career options. In addition to working as a practitioner in a firm or studio, a degree in planning and design may offer you a career in relevant government agencies, NGOs, developing countries or independent corporations, where you will cope with challenges facing society today as rapid urbanisation, (re)designing cities, climate change threats, planning to include cultural diversity, and many more. Additionally, if you wish to tackle urban issues in a scholarly way, a degree programme in planning and design can provide you with the basics for a career in the academia.
  5. Singapore is a Leading City in Urban Planning and Design
    If you are considering a career in this field then Singapore is the right place to be! With its many think tanks and research centres, this little red dot is a leading city in urban planning and design worldwide. Many practitioners, scholars, and Public Service officers come from all over the world to study “the Singapore model”, and how to apply this approach in solving current and future urban challenges in their home cities. As a student based in Singapore, you will be able to find out more, and learn, about Singapore’s urban issues and the solutions that Singapore agencies have delivered over the last decades.
The Singapore campus of James Cook University offers a Master of Planning and Urban Design (majoring in Disaster Resilience and Sustainable Tropical Urbanism). Taught by a mix of award winning industry practitioners and well-published academics, the course is accredited by the Planning Institute of Australia.