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Thread: Confused about requirements

  1. #1
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    Confused about requirements

    I am considering a career in planning for a variety of reasons, but I'd like a little input from people more familiar with the area (you guys).

    I have a M.A. in History and am having trouble finding work. Lately I've been intrigued by the way cities and infrastructure are planned and started considering a career in planning.

    Of course, having already gone through an MA program, I'm not eager to do it again. Is a Master's necessary to finding work? I know in the History field it's all about reputation essentially, but planning seems like it might be more of a "Show me what you've done" sort of field, allowing a bit more flexibility.

    Is there any alternative to a Master's? Could I at least find an entry-level job with a certificate? One college near me offers one and American Public University does as well.

    I'm not against the idea of getting a Master's, but I'm 26 and stuck in a rut. I live in an area with no economic activity. I'm stuck in a retail job. I can't even seem to find any non-retail jobs that will hire me. Even moving to another city: if it's not a museum job (non-existent almost) it's just another retail job. And I can't afford an expensive move just for another retail job. I need to get the heck out of this rut and I think a career in planning would be an interesting career, but am obviously attracted to a more immediate solution.

    Any help you could offer would be appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Also, I should add that I have a B.S. in Poly Sci, if that helps.

  3. #3
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Unfortunately the planning field is like all other fields in this economy.... Jobs are tough to come by. People with experience and degrees in planning are out of work. I would volunteer in a planning office and start networking with planners in your area. Good luck....
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  4. #4
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    I agree with Hink, start volunteering if nothing else you should figure out quickly what your options are (and even if this is the field you want to be in) Another suggestion is looking at federal jobs. Still tough to get but BLM and similar agencies accept history as an appropriate background for their positions (including planning-related ones). Go to usajobs.gov and check it out. Good luck

  5. #5
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    Just don't...do yourself a favor. If your problem is difficulty finding work, a masters in planning is not the answer.

    If I were in your shoes, I'd keep my retail job and get an associates in administration of justice from a community college, then look for work as a police officer. Cops with an associates make 2-3x more than a planner with a masters degree (totally serious), and aren't stuck behind a desk all day.

    The job market for cops is tough too but not anything like it is for planners.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the responses. Not the most encouraging analysis, haha. But I guess I'll keep looking.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by db_peligro View post
    Just don't...do yourself a favor. If your problem is difficulty finding work, a masters in planning is not the answer.

    If I were in your shoes, I'd keep my retail job and get an associates in administration of justice from a community college, then look for work as a police officer. Cops with an associates make 2-3x more than a planner with a masters degree (totally serious), and aren't stuck behind a desk all day.

    The job market for cops is tough too but not anything like it is for planners.
    Interesting analysis. Why would you suggest someone get an Associate's Degree when they already have a Master's? Just so they can get work as a police officer? This makes no sense.

    Also, I'm not stuck behind my desk all day, but some people like that.

    To the OP, internships are what you need to be looking for right now. Find an internship some place and work there while you keep your money job. Don't just look for "City Planning Internships," though. I'd suggest looking everywhere: Port Authority, Airport Authority, Historic Preservation, Public Works Department, etc. All of these are locations where people who do planning end up being stashed. Once you have a taste for what planning really is, then decide if it's worth it to go back to school. You can always see if you can add some extension courses in Planning or Public Administration to your CV.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally posted by Huck View post
    Interesting analysis. Why would you suggest someone get an Associate's Degree when they already have a Master's? Just so they can get work as a police officer? This makes no sense.

    .
    It's called retraining. Considering the fact that planning is a declining field, it makes perfect sense. By your logic, the first education ones gets should dictate their opportunities throughout their life. And what makes you think that a career in law enforcement is somehow inferior to planning? You really have no idea what you're talking about.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    It's called retraining. Considering the fact that planning is a declining field, it makes perfect sense. By your logic, the first education ones gets should dictate their opportunities throughout their life. And what makes you think that a career in law enforcement is somehow inferior to planning? You really have no idea what you're talking about.
    Check this out:

    http://www.nypdrecruit.com/benefits-salary/overview

    After 5.5 years experience, you are pulling down $90k, 27 vacation days a year, fat pension. That's with a 40 hour workweek. Throw on some overtime and you are easily up to $130k. That's with an AA and 5.5 years experience. And don't forget that since the AA was at a community college, its practically free, AND you can work while in school.

    NYC is in no way unusual, police are EXTREMELY well paid across the country (except the deep south), and most are protected by strong unions.

    Meanwhile planners with our fancy masters degrees and student loans get lower pay, much less generous retirement, and no union protection.
    Last edited by db_peligro; 14 Aug 2012 at 11:44 AM.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by db_peligro View post
    Check this out:

    http://www.nypdrecruit.com/benefits-salary/overview

    After 5.5 years experience, you are pulling down $90k, 27 vacation days a year, fat pension. That's with a 40 hour workweek. Throw on some overtime and you are easily up to $130k. That's with an AA and 5.5 years experience. And don't forget that since the AA was at a community college, its practically free, AND you can work while in school.

    NYC is in no way unusual, police are EXTREMELY well paid across the country (except the deep south), and most are protected by strong unions.

    Meanwhile planners with our fancy masters degrees and student loans get lower pay, much less generous retirement, and no union protection.
    So have you signed up with the LAPD yet?
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    My wife makes far more with her nurse AA degree then she ever did with her MBA. For the education required planners are not paid well plus they take the heat whenever something goes wrong in a community.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Ha!

    My current "supervisor" is 19 years old and making about $110,000 a year with HS diploma and will be able to retire at 49 with FULL FAT RR pension and have a whole other career......weird working in a seniority based work environment.......Good kid and does well at his job. Last of the GREAT union jobs.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally posted by Raf View post
    So have you signed up with the LAPD yet?
    If I were under the maximum applicant age (35), I would in a heartbeat.

    I actually think police work is pretty interesting. Sadly our social safety net is so weak that most of what cops do is more social work than law enforcement - dealing with addiction, mental illness, domestic abuse, etc. Very little is chasing criminals around.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally posted by The One View post
    My current "supervisor" is 19 years old and making about $110,000 a year with HS diploma and will be able to retire at 49 with FULL FAT RR pension and have a whole other career......weird working in a seniority based work environment.......Good kid and does well at his job. Last of the GREAT union jobs.
    He'll be relaxing on his houseboat while us college boys (or girls) are enjoying retirement as wal-mart greeters.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian
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    getting into planning with a history/pol sci background

    Some thoughts and tips for the OP on this thread -

    Try looking into the environmental planning field. The state DOT where I am often looks for planners that can do historic preservation under their environmental planning group. They usually ask for Archeology degrees but I think History is also acceptable. Our state DOT has hired environmental planners from a range of backgrounds from banking to Global Studies degree holders. In the private sector, there are also companies that have environmental planning groups and they may hire a History major to assist with the cultural aspect as well.

    If you have some technical skills, I think I saw an ad for someone with 'visual methodologies' skills recently. (Can't find it now, I tried to look it up). They needed someone who could piece together and compare historic photos with current and discuss the visual impacts, something like that. That is also an aspect of environmental planning.

    It's not impossible to go back for another graduate degree, just be sure to find a place that gives you full funding (they do exist!) so you're not up to your eyeballs in student debt when you emerge. And while you're pursuing that degree, intern with local agencies to build experience.
    Last edited by Reefe; 14 Aug 2012 at 1:12 PM. Reason: typo

  16. #16
    Continuing the somewhat off-topic discussion about "lower" degrees and earning potential, my wife as an AS in nursing and is making 85k a year. Oh, and this is her first nursing job, about 1.5 years in. If she wanted to, she could be working 7 days a week picking up extra shifts. This is just working 32 hours a week. So the next person who comes on here and says why would you want to go get an Associates degree in something when you already have a masters in planning needs to consider the drastically different job markets and the fact that many well-paying fields haven't inflated their educational requirements beyond what is absolutely required.

    db_peligro:
    I actually think police work is pretty interesting. Sadly our social safety net is so weak that most of what cops do is more social work than law enforcement - dealing with addiction, mental illness, domestic abuse, etc. Very little is chasing criminals around.
    I think it's pretty interesting too, and if I was single and without kids, I would also seriously consider it.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Bubba's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Reefe View post
    Try looking into the environmental planning field. The state DOT where I am often looks for planners that can do historic preservation under their environmental planning group. They usually ask for Archeology degrees but I think History is also acceptable. Our state DOT has hired environmental planners from a range of backgrounds from banking to Global Studies degree holders. In the private sector, there are also companies that have environmental planning groups and they may hire a History major to assist with the cultural aspect as well.
    This is solid advice (if environmental planning is something the OP would be interested in). To be a good NEPA person, you need solid research skills, the ability to synthesize information from a lot of different sources, and good writing skills. State DOTs are known for hiring entry-level NEPA folks with a wide variety of degrees.
    I found you a new motto from a sign hanging on their wall…"Drink coffee: do stupid things faster and with more energy"

  18. #18
    I'll add to what has been said about state DOTs. They are excellent sources for training and experience. FDOT in Florida is an agency that is respected by the legislature, and their employees are paid well relative to their counterparts in other state agencies. There are entry level opportunities in a wide variety of career fields on the state of Florida's job website.
    The content contrarian

  19. #19
    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    I think it's pretty interesting too, and if I was single and without kids, I would also seriously consider it.
    Awhile back I was thinking about part-time work I could do on the weekends that paid well and would not result in a conflict-of-interest with my current employer. Nursing was by far at the top of the list. The cost of an AA at the local junior college is next to nothing. I backed away from the idea because I thought it was silly, but it's nice to see that I'm not the only one that was thinking about it.
    The content contrarian

  20. #20
    Quote Originally posted by OfficialPlanner View post
    Awhile back I was thinking about part-time work I could do on the weekends that paid well and would not result in a conflict-of-interest with my current employer. Nursing was by far at the top of the list. The cost of an AA at the local junior college is next to nothing. I backed away from the idea because I thought it was silly, but it's nice to see that I'm not the only one that was thinking about it.

    Oops- you were talking about law enforcement
    The content contrarian

  21. #21
    Quote Originally posted by OfficialPlanner View post
    Oops- you were talking about law enforcement
    Lol, I was. But, since my wife has become a nurse I've thought about that, too. But based on what she talks about when she comes home after her shift, I know I wouldn't be cut out for it. I don't want to have that kind of responsibility for maintaining another person's life.

    For example, a person has some strange problem with their blood pressure. Eight IVs. A hundred adjustments, literally, to their lines per hour because of simultaneous and opposite effects on their blood pressure. Detailed records on every adjustment. The person could die at any second.

    But more men should get into nursing (I assume youre a guy, but I forgive me if I'm wrong). Your male status gives you "diversity" points in a female-dominated field. If you do go that route, look into jobs at prisons. At the Atascadero State Hospital in central California for instance, RNs straight out of school start at 90k, and you never have patients at the level of acuity described above. Basically, your job revolves around keeping patients on their meds. If you're at a regular prison (ASH is for criminally insane), prisoners are transferred to hospitals if they have any major problems, so the same is largely true at those, as well. You'd be making six figures within a very short amount of time with the best job security in the world. In another life, with the acumen to do nursing, I'd move to a rural area with an easy to get into community college, bang out the pre-requisites, get an ASN, and go that route. You can get a BSN later while you work simply with stats and a few community health classes.The economy stalled a lot of hiring at hospitals, but things are easing back up.

  22. #22
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    Interesting discussion...nice to have some activity around here for a change.

    To reiterate, though, I do hope the one message that gets through is that you should not go to planning school right off the bat and put yourself further in the hole financially.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Yup.....

    Quote Originally posted by db_peligro View post
    He'll be relaxing on his houseboat while us college boys (or girls) are enjoying retirement as wal-mart greeters.
    My favorite post of the week......so far
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