Tips before starting a Planning degree

Choosing to do a City Planning degree or Master’s degree can have many benefits. But it can also be a challenging field to be in, especially in developing countries. Most of the planning degrees lead to government jobs where the salary is not very high or promising for the long term. In developed countries, the planning structure is more organized and in demand compared to underdeveloped & developing nations. That said, many countries are picking up on city planning, and there are many movements and new organizations coming up.

City Planning Degree

There is more demand for GIS, design and technological aspects of planning rather than the core planning principles or human aspects of the planning degree. There is also more demand for research and writing in planning more than the workforce but that takes a very long process and many years of hard work to become an academic in planning. Most of the times, you will not be the sole decision-maker, and the government has the most power in city planning. Even though planning is trying to focus on community-based aspects with people taking control of their cities, that is sadly not the truth in many of the cases. It’s a challenging area to get a job in, and if you want to make money or have other passions other than making a difference for your country, then it is not the best path to pursue.

Here are some things you should think about before you decide to apply for a Planning degree:

     Related: Urban Planning – Profession

  1. Think about what you really want: Think about what aspects of planning or civics you like and whether it is really necessary to pursue a planning degree for your aspirations and future. Think about the pros and cons of choosing a planning degree whether in India or abroad. For instance: is it well paid, will you gain the skills you are looking for and will it benefit your goals in the future.        
  2. Do you want to create change: Do you want to have an impact on your city or country? If so, planning would be an excellent field for that. Creating change is not easy and also comes with lots of ups and downs. It is very challenging especially when a specific niche of people runs a country, most of them without a planning degree. So think through this carefully and how you can make an impact through your planning degree
  3. Do you have an interest in learning about city planning: It all comes down to interest and motivation to study, whatever field you choose. So, if you are interested in town planning, let the interest guide you even if you don’t make a lot of money, you’ll still enjoy the job because you are interested in the subject. Many times, interest leads to academia jobs because once you’re very interested in a topic, you become very good at a subject and choose a specialization. Many people study for interest these days without thinking too much about the future, if that is you, that is fine as well, but it is important to think about how you will make your mark.
  4. What part of planning do you want to specialize: Think about what aspect of city planning you like, such as transportation or housing and so forth. Planning can be linked to most aspects of daily life because most of us have experienced city life. You can focus on the part you like so that you can try to find a job in that area. For instance, there are lots of ways to improve housing and infrastructure of our cities, and you can work with civil engineers to make a difference to our cities if you like transport and housing.
  5. Talk to people practicing planning: Talk to others in the field and other planners who have done the degree and have jobs now, so that you will understand how it really is and whether that’s what you want to do. Many times you can see how people work in the field to decide if you want to live the same life as them or find a similar job. If you cannot find anyone in the planning profession, then talk to your course coordinators or university to find out if they can give you an idea of the workforce. It all comes down to practice and finding the right job more than the course itself.

Planned City

The above are a  few tips to know how to set foot into the world of planning. There are, of course, many other ways to do it. But like any field, there are many options and job opportunities in planning, and it depends on what you want out of life. Urban Planning can be a very promising profession for many people, and many people around the world are making a big difference to our cities and contributing to a bigger change such as the recent walkability movements which are growing all over the world. You will need to specify your interests and think of a niche you want to follow. It also depends on where you are in the world and how that country looks at planning. Various countries are still developing their infrastructure, but many interesting movements are emerging with lots of changes taking place in our cities. So there is still a lot of potentials. So, good luck and I hope your planning degree is promising, if not at least enjoyable!

Also Read: Limitations of Planning

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