Planning jobs remain much in demand across a variety of construction, transport and engineering industries, with project planners attaining transferable skills in research, budgeting, report writing and business analysis. Entry into the career can happen at a number of levels, including pre-degree, and there is significant scope for promotion and career advancement over time, especially if a candidate is prepared to undertake career-specific qualifications.

Planning jobs - salary expectations

Graduates from any discipline can look to start a career in planning, with starting salaries of around £16,000 to £20,000 for those without a relevant degree, rising to nearer £30,000 for those with a planning-related degree. It is sometimes possible to find apprenticeships in planning offered to those without degrees, with starting salaries of around £15,000, with a minimum of five basic GCSEs normally being required. With an average of around three to five years’ experience, a good planner could expect to become a senior planner or team leader and achieve a salary in the region of £30,000 to £45,000. The head of the department or chief planner could expect to command a salary in the range of £60,000 to £80,000, and possibly more.

Top locations to optimise your planning salary

Planners are in demand across the country, although there will always be a greater demand in major cities and towns, where the offices of major construction companies, engineering companies, and planning agencies tend to be located. There is unlikely to be a major north/south divide, other than the normal tendency for roles to be in more demand in London. The need to travel away from home is usually rare, although planners will work both in office environments and on-site, and if the site is some distance away this may occasionally require an overnight stay.

Ways to boost a planning salary

There are a number of career-related qualifications that ambitious project planners can take in order to boost their employability and salary, as well as professional bodies of which planners can become members. Those who enter the industry straight from school, for example, could study for an NVQ in Management, or for accreditation in widely used planning technologies such as Oracle’s Primavera P6 or PRINCE 2.

Professional planners can work towards project planning and management qualifications to allow them to apply for membership of organisations such as the Association for Project Management or the Project Management Institute, or undertake a specialist degree or postgraduate qualification which can often be studied for alongside working.

Experienced planners also have the option of going freelance and working on a contract basis. This usually has the benefit of an increased daily rate. Senior planners with relevant experience might command £400 or more a day, although the life of a freelance contractor does not suit everyone as a contractor must be prepared to change roles frequently, as well as spend time looking for roles.

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