Job description: Urban designer

Written by: Katy Thorne
Published on: 2 Dec 2021

Katy Thorne, senior consultant, Penguin Recruitment, describes the typical role of an urban designer.

Penguin Recruitment

As an urban designer you could find a range of career opportunities in the private and public sector, working for a consultancy, developer or local authority.

urban designer


Your day-to-day role typically involves surveying land and buildings, analysing their current use and making recommendations for their future development. 

You will also use your communication skills, empathy and knowledge to negotiate with and influence people to make better informed decisions about successfully planned spaces.

Key skills

Some of the key skills you will need to succeed as an urban designer include:

  • A keen interest in both design and the built environment
  • An ability to work on complex projects which are prone to change
  • Good technical and artistic skills
  • A strong analytical and problem-solving mindset
  • A resilient approach.
  • Good communication skills, including the ability to listen, educate and empathise


A university undergraduate degree in any subject relating to the built environment or spatial design is a good start. The best subjects to study are architecture, town planning, landscape architecture, geography, engineering. You may then choose to take a postgraduate course in urban design or a related subject. 

Working hours

The typical working hours of an urban designer are Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 5:00pm.


The salary of an urban designer varies depending on the work location across the UK and what level you are in the market. At graduate level you can expect to earn around £20,000 per annum and at director level you could earn around £80,000 per annum.

A recruitment expert’s perspective


"There are lots of great opportunities in the market right now for urban designers to develop their careers and gain a breadth of experience, whether it be in the private or public sector. A keen interest in both design and the built environment, a genuine passion for improving the built environment, along with solid artistic and technical skills, will help set you apart in the industry ."

- Katy Thorne, senior consultant, Penguin Recruitment


Career opportunities 

Your next steps may include:

  • Senior urban designer
  • Associate urban designer
  • Partner
  • Head of department
  • Start your own consultancy

To find out more about the role of an urban designer or to discuss your career options, contact Katy Thorne, senior consultant at Penguin Recruitment:

Explore career opportunities with Penguin Recruitment