If you're interested in a project planner job, you may wonder what a project planner actually does, and how to get into a career as a project planner?

As a project planner, your role would be to plan out a construction or engineering project from start to finish, including budgets, staffing, timings of each stage, measure success, and the various resources needed to make the project work.

The project would then move on to a project manager who would oversee the actual implementation, although project planners may well also be involved throughout the life cycle of the project.

Becoming a project manager or planner.

Project planners and managers are required in almost every industry. Within construction and engineering they could be working on a wide variety of projects, from planning the development and build of a major new housing scheme, developing the plan for a motorway extension, or helping to scope out elements of a much bigger nationwide scheme, such as the new north-south, high-speed rail link.

Typically, a project planner would be tasked with:

  • Determining exactly what the required outcomes for a project are, either internally or with the client.
  • Developing realistic timescales and costs.
  • Scoping out the required resources, in terms of both staff, as well as physical resources such as construction equipment.
  • Drawing up a detailed schedule of each stage of the project, including timings and what should be achieved before the project can move on to the next stage.
  • On-going monitoring of the project and early warning of issue or delays.

Skills you will need.

Project planner roles will typically be office based, although site work is possible. Specialist software will be used for the planning and tracking, but this can usually be learnt on the job.

The necessary skills include:

  • Excellent planning
  • Organisational and time management abilities
  • Good communication skills
  • The ability to work well on your own and in a team
  • Logical thinking with keen
  • Attention to detail.
  • IT skills and
  • An aptitude to learn new programs

A project planner is a highly responsible role, as they need to be able to work quickly and efficiently under pressure, as well as being prepared to justify their conclusions to a wide range of other employees, from site building teams to senior management.

How to become a project planner.

Some project planners come into the career with a degree, usually in a related subject such as business, management, or engineering. Others progress into the career through work experience, perhaps taking on a small project as part of another engineering role and enjoying the task sufficiently to want to move more into planning.

Relevant work placements through a degree could give candidates straight out of education an advantage, and some companies, such as Transport for London, offer project planning apprenticeships. Randstad has had great success in placing candidates into just the project planner roles they are suited to.

Additional skills.

Specific planning skills are usually learnt on the job, so prospective project planners would need to be prepared to undertake further study and qualifications, such as training in PRINCE2, as well as working towards professional project management qualifications from the Association for Project Management (APM) and the Project Management Institute (PMI), or even achieving Chartered Engineering status.