Student Zone (yrs 8 - 13)

Planners help make spaces and places great for everyone to live, work and play and ensure the environment is protected for future generations.

Planning is a profession that builds communities, protects the environment, enhances economic value and improves the choices for where and how people live, work and spend their leisure time.

The salaries planners earn are attractive, there are excellent career prospects throughout the world, and the skills you would develop can be used in other professions.

Planning is a career in which you can help shape a better future for New Zealand.

What Planners need to know

  • Design to be able to represent the conceptual and structural arrangement of urban forms.
  • Geography to understand the physical characteristics of places.
  • Sociology to be aware of the human factors that bring communities together.
  • Culture to learn how to communicate with and plan for people with diverse backgrounds.
  • Environment to learn how to manage and protect our natural resources.
  • Economics to be able to assess the financial viability of private development and public projects.
  • Politics to understand the role of democracy in managing and shaping our environment./
  • Law to learn the legal frameworks that serve as the basis for planning.

Useful High School Subjects for a Job in Planning

Planning is a broad profession. Subjects that are relevant include:

  • English
  • Science
  • Mathematics
  • Art & Graphic Design
  • Geography
  • Te Reo Maori
  • Economics
  • Tourism
  • Accounting
  • Computers

If you are interested in exploring a career in planning, it is a good idea to talk your options over with your local high school career advisor.

What a Typical Planning Degree Includes

Planners are trained professionals, and a 4 year university degree in planning is required. Some choose to study planning at the postgraduate level after earning a degree in another field.

  • YEAR ONE: Introduction to Planning
    Planning Theory, Resource Management, Sustainable Development Methods

  • YEAR TWO: Core Subjects in Planning
    Planning Law, Environment, Heritage, Treaty of Waitangi, Planning Methods

  • YEAR THREE: Advanced Planning Topics
    Planning Practice, Planning Methods, Geographic Information Systems

  • YEAR FOUR: Planning Specialisations
    Transport, Maori, Natural Hazards, Urban Design, Structure Plans

For further details, check out the NZPI Tertiary Study section.

Where Planners Work

Planning work is extremely varied.​ Most planners work for:

  • Local authorities, such as city and district councils
  • Government departments
  • Private consulting firms

Some of the complex problems planners solve involve:


  • Clean Air
  • Parks & Reserves
  • Water Quality


  • Neighbourhoods
  • Subdivisions
  • Housing


  • Urban Design
  • Public Spaces
  • Historic Places


  • Walking and Cycling
  • Streets and Highways
  • Public Transport

Career Prospects & Pay

Planning is a great career that involves a variety of work, great pay, and excellent career prospects around the world. Planning is rated among the best career options for the 21st century and planners are in demand globally. In 2018, an average starting salary for a graduate planner was $67,000pa

Where to Study

There are five Universities within NZ that offer NZPI accredited planning degrees, these are:

  • University of Auckland
  • Waikato University
  • Otago University
  • Massey University
  • Lincoln University

Check out the Tertiary Study section for full details

Award Winning Projects

The New Zealand Planning Institute Awards celebrates the important role of the planning profession and highlights the best of the best from around the country. They are presented annually at our annual conference for Planners

For further information, check out our Planning as a Career section.