Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

Occupation Outlook | Main MBIE Site

Urban Planners

Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

Prospects are average for urban planners, due to a stable number of positions available and supply of new graduates. Getting employment as an urban planner is likely to be easier in Auckland than in the rest of New Zealand.

How to become an urban planner

What they do

Urban planners develop and put into action plans for the development of urban areas. This work can include, for example, planning new subdivisions, developing strategies for urban areas, or developing policies for local government.

Regional planners perform the same functions as urban planners, but for a whole region.

Skills employers look for

According to the latest information from the New Zealand and Australian online job ads, some of the top skills employers look for include:

  • resource management, and transportation planning
  • relationship building skills  
  • good planning, communication, and writing skills
  • technical skills, and familiarity with GIS and Microsoft Office software.

 Source: Burning Glass Technologies’ Labor Insight™ Real-time Labor Market Information tool

Qualifications needed

To become an urban planner you usually need a degree in planning or a degree with a planning component. There are many different degrees available for students in planning. Examples include a Bachelor or Master of Urban Planning, a Bachelor or Master of Resource and Environmental Planning, and a Master of Planning. Check out the website of the New Zealand Planning Institute (NZPI) for a full overview of their accredited degrees.

New Zealand Planning Institute, accredited degrees:

Cost of study

NZPI-accredited BachelorNZPI-accredited Master
$23,000 over three years $20,000over two years

Average costs in 2018 for a domestic student. Costs vary between institutions. First time students may be eligible for  fees-free tertiary education for their first year of study, which will reduce the total cost. For more information about fees-free eligibility, go to  Further costs include student levies, administrative fees, materials, textbooks and accommodation. 

The average cost of a bachelor’s degree accredited by the New Zealand Planning Institute was around $23,000 over three years, while a master’s degree cost around $20,000 over a further two years.

Rents vary from place to place. Estimated market rents by region, city and suburb, and are available on the MBIE Tenancy Services website.

The StudyLink website provides general budget advice for students, and the Sorted website provides help with detailed budget planning.

Tenancy Services: 

Where to study

An NZPI-accredited bachelor’s degree is offered at the University of Auckland, Massey University, Lincoln University and Waikato University.

An NZPI-accredited master’s degree is offered at the University of Auckland, Massey University, Lincoln University and Otago University.


No registration is necessary to work as a planner, but students and graduates of accredited degrees can become members of the New Zealand Planning Institute. Members can progress to more comprehensive memberships as they gain experience. Membership of the institute is also available for planners without an accredited degree, but with at least seven years of experience.


Completed qualifications

The number of students completing a bachelor’s degree in Urban Design and Regional Planning has dropped over the last few years feom about 60 in 2013  to 20 in 2016.

Completed qualifications chart


Source: Ministry of Education

Income and employment prospects


The average annual income for urban planners is estimated to be $84,700. Income depends on skills and experience.

Estimated Average Income

Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index.

Employment and skill shortages

Urban planners’ employment

HistoricProjected Growth
2006 2013 2021 2026
1,629 1,815 2,367 2,806
  1.6% 4.5% 3.5%

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
*Projected numbers are based on the broader category “Architects, Designers, Planners and Surveyors”.

There has been a steady rise in the number of urban planners in recent years. Employment is forecast to grow 4.5% per year to 2021, and then 3.5% per year to 2026.

Employment chart

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections

Outcomes after qualification completion*

OverseasIn further studyReceiving a benefitIn employmentMedian Salary
20% 12% 1% 53% $47,000



Source: Tertiary Education Commission *Three years after completion of Bachelor Degree - Architecture & Urban Environment.

Three years after graduation, most graduates were either in employment. Quite a high percentage, 20%, was overseas, and a very small percentage was receiving a benefit. The median salary was around $47,000 three years after graduation.

Urban planners are not on any of Immigration New Zealand’s Skill Shortage Lists.

Immigration NZ, skill shortage list:

Where to find job vacancies

The number of online job vacancies for urban planning positions increased at a quicker rate than all vacancies on average.

Jobs advertised chart


Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

Urban planner vacancies are advertised through websites such as Trade Me Jobs and Seek and, increasingly, through social media like LinkedIn.

Trade Me Jobs: 

Career path

Many urban planners work in the public sector, for example, planning the development of local communities for councils, or in the public housing department. For more information on the career path of urban planners, consult NZPI’s page on career advice.

NZPI, Career advice:

Related Occupations

The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require different qualifications and skills than urban planners.

  • Architect
  • Environmental Engineer
  • Environmental Planner
  • Regional Planner
  • Surveyor
  • Urban Designer

Other information


More information on urban planners is available on the Careers New Zealand website and through the "Just the Job" videos.

Careers New Zealand:
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Planning at Auckland Council


The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.

The occupation of urban planners has been coded to the following ANZSCO code for the purpose of this report:

2326 – Urban and Regional Planners