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Thread: Public salary in private figures

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Public salary in private figures

    Okay, folks, I know that there has been a ton of posts re: private practice versus public, so if this particular topic has been covered, feel free to redirect me.

    The question- if a planner in the public sector makes approximately 30k a year (or around $15/hour), what does that equate to in private practice?

    More generally, how does that conversion really work? Do your wages equal about 1/3 of your total costs (which is what I've heard)? Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian ludes98's avatar
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    I'm sure it has been covered, but I haven't nor I am I going to search.

    It is pretty subjective. Here in the Phoenix area, cities tend to pay decent. It isn't up to private sector wage, but it isn't way less either.

    To use your math, I would equate 30K with a Planner I position. Most cities here pay that position a little higher than that, like 35-40. Most private firms (various sizes) that I know pay that position at 40-55K.

    I am not sure what you mean about costs though, unless you are referring to benefits which are quite variable in private practice. I pay $0 for my health insurance currently.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by ludes98
    I'm sure it has been covered, but I haven't nor I am I going to search.

    I am not sure what you mean about costs though, unless you are referring to benefits which are quite variable in private practice. I pay $0 for my health insurance currently.
    I know what you mean... I searched for a minute and then took the easy way out.

    What i mean is this: let's say a public sector planner makes about $15 an hour. With health insurance, that adds up to about $23 an hour (depending on what you get). That doesn't take in to account the rental space, the cost to keep up the building, the phones, the gas, the car, the membership dues, the photocopies, the postage, etc... How all that factors in is what I'm trying to figure out. I know that a lot of private sector planners charge about $60 or so an hour... are they building all that in?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian ludes98's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by vaughan
    I know what you mean... I searched for a minute and then took the easy way out.

    What i mean is this: let's say a public sector planner makes about $15 an hour. With health insurance, that adds up to about $23 an hour (depending on what you get). That doesn't take in to account the rental space, the cost to keep up the building, the phones, the gas, the car, the membership dues, the photocopies, the postage, etc... How all that factors in is what I'm trying to figure out. I know that a lot of private sector planners charge about $60 or so an hour... are they building all that in?
    Ahhh billable hours. So you are thinking of making the leap to sole proprietor? I can't speculate on how much of billable hours goes to overhead. I mean that would largely depend on the size of the firm for health care and operating costs. I think Lee Nellis has done indpendent consulting. You might try PM'ing him.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    The short answer is 'yes.' The rate that a private sector planner charges includes both the base salary and the overhead associated with running the business. Things like travel and printing are charged separately. In my experience, $50 an hour would be the rate charged for a lower-level planner working on a project. The lead planner will typically be around $100 per hour, or more in expensive parts of the country.
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  6. #6
    Member Nor Cal Planner Girl's avatar
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    Planner girl in Nor.Cal

    Quote Originally posted by vaughan
    Okay, folks, I know that there has been a ton of posts re: private practice versus public, so if this particular topic has been covered, feel free to redirect me.

    The question- if a planner in the public sector makes approximately 30k a year (or around $15/hour), what does that equate to in private practice?

    More generally, how does that conversion really work? Do your wages equal about 1/3 of your total costs (which is what I've heard)? Any thoughts?
    If a planner in the public sector is only making 30k per year- they should consider moving to another part of the country to make more $$$. A planner III postion in Northern California makes around $68,000.00 AND, that does not include benefits which adds about $25,000.00 to the whole pot. I understand that private sector planners charge about $150.00 per hour in Nor.Cal.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ktheriau
    If a planner in the public sector is only making 30k per year- they should consider moving to another part of the country to make more $$$. A planner III postion in Northern California makes around $68,000.00 AND, that does not include benefits which adds about $25,000.00 to the whole pot. I understand that private sector planners charge about $150.00 per hour in Nor.Cal.
    Well, I don't think you can make such sweeping judgments. I think someone in this forum turned down a California job because, after adjusting for the cost of living out here, the higher salary would have been an effective pay cut.

    But I do appreciate your comments, since I live in California and have a business...er supposedly... long story. One of those "Some day, I hope to make actual money" type of things.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by ktheriau
    If a planner in the public sector is only making 30k per year- they should consider moving to another part of the country to make more $$$. A planner III postion in Northern California makes around $68,000.00 AND, that does not include benefits which adds about $25,000.00 to the whole pot. I understand that private sector planners charge about $150.00 per hour in Nor.Cal.

    Hmm... yes, the mentioned is, unfortunately, the one I'm dealing with, but at the same time, I love both my job and the place that I live. And, to second MZ's remark- it isn't always about how much you make, but about quality of life. C'mon- its growing like crazy, I'm right in the middle of it, i'm learning a ton, I ski three times a week, and I live just north of Yellowstone. Life is pretty damn good. I'm staying for a while.

    Thanks for the replies, folks. I'm actually NOT looking to make the leap from public to private, but am simply trying to figure out how much the county loses per application (and its almost always a loss) so that we can adjust our fee schedule accordingly. Just playing with numbers.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by vaughan
    Thanks for the replies, folks. I'm actually NOT looking to make the leap from public to private, but am simply trying to figure out how much the county loses per application (and its almost always a loss) so that we can adjust our fee schedule accordingly. Just playing with numbers.
    In about 3 or 4 years, I will be looking to jump into the private sector. That will give me 5 years here, and a total of 6 in the public sector. By then I will have a Masters and my AICP. I would just like to make more money, have more creativity options, and NEVER EVER do code encroachment again. Right now, I make good money. (a bit more that 30k /yr, but I think that I can make a lot more if I went to the 'dark side'.

    I think that there is almost an 80k cap on public sector jobs. Has anyone else noticed this? As with pubic sector, there is no limit to how much you can make.
    "The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism." - George Washington

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    ...[snip]... As with pubic sector...[snip]....
    hehehehehe....
    Annoyingly insensitive

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    mick

    slow down a bit, there is some limitation on the private sector stuff as well unless you plan on getting a piece of some of the deals or buy in to a consulting company.

    Tops, a planer in any region can make is $150,000.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    I think that there is almost an 80k cap on public sector jobs. Has anyone else noticed this? As with pubic sector, there is no limit to how much you can make.
    That cap varies depending on where you are. I agree that in the upper midwest, with the exception of the big cities, $80,000 is pretty accurate. In the more expensive parts of the country I will see positions advertised into the low 100's.
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