What Are Urban Planning Skills? (And How To Develop Them)
Urban planners help design, maintain and develop lands and build communities by accommodating the growing population. These professionals can find jobs in public sector or private sector companies, non-profit organisations, social service agencies, real estate firms and consulting organisations. If you are interested in becoming an urban planner, understanding the requirements of the job can help you make the right career choices. In this article, we discuss key urban planning skills, explore a list of examples, identify ways of improving them and discover how to highlight them while applying for a job.
What Are Urban Planning Skills?
Urban planning skills are a set of abilities that help urban planners develop, design and plan the usage of lands to facilitate growth, economic development, community building and movement in urban areas. They are responsible for planning the use of underdeveloped lands, revitalising areas that are declining and facilitating the economic growth of these spaces. They may also be involved in infrastructure planning for cities to ensure accessibility, safety, sanitation and efficiency within communities. All of this requires urban planners to have a combination of hard and soft skills that can help them plan, organise, develop and manage urban areas.
Related: What Is An Urban Planner? Definition And Career Advice
Examples Of Urban Planning Skills
Here is a list of skills that can help urban planners do their job well:
Urban planners create land-use plans, determine area layouts, create physical designs of cities and facilitate transportation. This requires them to have knowledge about spatial structures, infrastructure, land-use regulations, planning issues and the economy. It is also important for them to understand how to identify communities, determine the environmental impact and research how certain decisions may affect people living in that area. This requires urban planners to be technically competent and have a proper understanding of geography, area plans, demographics, communities and legal foundations. You can develop such technical knowledge by pursuing formal education in architecture, civil engineering or archaeology.
Urban planners gather different types of information from various sources and analyse them before they create any land-use plans. They analyse different factors that lead to economic development in regions or cause a gradual decline. They may often be required to analyse large amounts of statistical data to make interpretations and combine them with their plans.
This requires urban planners to have excellent analytical thinking skills that can help them understand the primary cause of any problem and create solutions. You can develop this skill by examining land-use plans from other urban planners and identifying faults or strengths in them. You can also strengthen this ability by solving puzzles that require you to exercise your analytical thinking skills and problem-solving abilities.
Related: How To Improve Analytical Skills (With Steps And Benefits)
This skill can help urban planners identify innovative solutions for area-related problems, misuse of land and resources and problems different communities face. They can use their creativity to improve the accessibility, safety and mobility in urban areas. In case of objections from stakeholders, urban planners can also use creativity to implement innovative local policies, produce creative cities and form creative alliances.
Urban planners communicate with different parties like the organisation they work for, their coworkers, stakeholders and government officials. They may often make presentations and describe plans to their managers and government representatives. Excellent communication skills can help them easily express their ideas and explain their plans in a simplified manner.
This skill also helps them interact with different communities and understand expectations from other planners who help build these communities. Using communication skills, urban planners can connect with residents and understand the issues they face while residing in a particular area. They can also explain the improvements they can bring to those areas as urban planners.
One of the major responsibilities of urban planners is to organise the land and resources in a way that people can live comfortably and use the areas effectively. They may often oversee multiple projects and tasks at a time. Several of their projects may have deadlines or a rigid timeline to follow. Organisational skills help urban planners allocate resources appropriately, create a structured flow of movement in urban areas, plan layouts cohesively, manage their time, prioritise tasks and organise their workflow.
Urban planners often work in medium-sized teams. They may be required to explain concepts and plans to their team, oversee their tasks and performance, motivate their team, delegate responsibility or train other team members. This involves being able to lead and manage their team effectively. You can develop your leadership skills by identifying a leadership style that suits you best, following industry leaders with the same style and applying these skills at work.
How To Develop The Skills Required For Urban Planning?
Here are some steps that can help you develop your skills as an urban planner:
1. Get certified
The first step towards developing your skills as an urban planner is to gain a formal education that can help you learn about infrastructure, communities, archaeology and economy among others. You can enrol for a bachelor's degree in economics, architecture, civil engineering, political science, environmental science or geography. After your graduation, you can also pursue a master's in urban or regional planning from accredited colleges and universities in India. Look for a college that offers a practical experience through internships and can also help you apply for jobs after you complete your education.
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2. Gain experience
Once you have completed your education, it is important to gain experience as a regional or urban planner so that you can apply your technical knowledge. You can look for internships and jobs through online job boards and portals like Indeed. At your internship, it is important to observe your seniors and understand the workflow, processes and best practices. A great way to enhance your learning is by asking questions frequently and getting your doubts clarified.
3. Practice your skills
Along with your technical skills, it is also important to practice other skills that can help you perform your job well. You can practice communication by increasing your daily interactions at work with internal and external parties, stakeholders, acquaintances and community members. Enhance your analytical skills and problem-solving abilities through puzzles and games. You can also improve your creativity by looking for innovative solutions to regular problems. There are different art forms or activities, like sketching, that can help enhance your creativity.
You can understand what people expect from an area or what their experience has been by networking with different communities. This type of networking can help you understand the requirements, objectives, expectations and capacities of different types of communities. These interactions can help you identify the infrastructure, amenities or policies that require improvement. You can also engage with policymakers, activists and local regulatory authorities to understand how different policies affect the livelihood of residents. Such discussions can help you plan the use of areas in ways that are most efficient and help residents flourish.
How To Highlight Urban Planning Skills?
Here are some ways in which you can highlight your urban planning skills while applying for a job:
On a resume
Highlight the core knowledge and skill requirements for urban planning under the skills section of your resume. Focus on your technical skills in this section to emphasise your expertise. You can also mention some of your skills, like organisational skills and communication as your strengths. Instead of mentioning the skills in single words, you can use bullet points to state how you can apply each skill to your job as an urban planner.
In a cover letter
You can use your cover letter as an opportunity to tell the recruiter elaborately about your skills and strengths. Even if you are a fresher, you can talk about other skills that can help you do your job well, like communication or leadership. If you have worked as an intern, you can elaborate on your experience, key coursework and acquired knowledge. If you briefly mentioned certain skills on your resume, you can use your cover letter to talk about the applications of each skill at your job.
During a job interview
An interview is a great opportunity to highlight your skills and talk about your experience. In your answers, you can talk about the abilities that help you perform well as an urban planner. It may be a good idea to prepare answers to the most commonly asked questions in urban planner interviews. When an interviewer asks you about your strengths and weaknesses, you can also mention some of your skills as your strengths and talk about the steps you are taking to handle your weaknesses.
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