I've been considering the possibility of going to graduate school for economics instead of my original plan of urban planning, though I still don't have enough information to make my decision. I'll list out what I'm doing now and what I do know about the two fields, and maybe someone can come along and steer me in the right direction.
Pursuing a bachelor's degree in Public Administration. I'm about 1 1/2 years from completing this one so I'm really starting to think of graduate school plans. My degree plan goes into great depth as far as public policy, intergovernment relations, budgeting in the public sector, ethical issues associated with the public sector, etc. It is an excellent preparation for Urban Planning but I'm not sure how well it will relate to economics (maybe economic development?).
Go for a Master's of Science in Community and Regional planning. This is a field that I have a very strong interest in as it is a "big picture" view of the complex creatures that are cities and metropolitan areas. I do tend to find myself more interested in the physical and statistical side of planning than the political side, though. Dealing with angry citizens at city council meetings does not sound to appealing to say the least. Still, though, being a part of the evolution of a city and creating better places for people to live would be a very satisfying career for me. I really get into researching demographic trends and finding the best course of action for the future.
Go for a Ph.D. in Economics (local uni. doesn't offer a Master's... just goes straight to Ph.D.) Besides having "Dr." in my title, which would make me feel really cool, I would be a wacky economist :nerd: Though my knowledge of economics is minimal at this point (taking macro and micro this summer), my understanding is that economists focus on an even larger picture than planners do. They spend a lot more time with statistical data and creating models to predict future trends in the economy. It seems to be a research-intensive job where you spend more time alone using using your own creativity to solve big problems than having to deal with the many levels of bureaucrats. I LOVE statistics and I LOVE seeing how the whole system of cause and effects works out.
So, what to do, what to do? For you "show me the money" types out there here are the average wages for these fields according to bls.gov:
Urban Planners: Median annual earnings of urban and regional planners were $49,880 in 2002. The middle 50 percent earned between $39,210 and $62,710. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $31,830, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $76,700. Median annual earnings in local government, the industry employing the largest number of urban and regional planners, were $48,950.Economists: Median annual wage and salary earnings of economists were $68,550 in 2002. The middle 50 percent earned between $50,560 and $90,710. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $38,690, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $120,440.
The Federal Government recognizes education and experience in certifying applicants for entry-level positions. The entrance salary for economists having a bachelorís degree was about $23,442 a year in 2003; however, those with superior academic records could begin at $29,037. Those having a masterís degree could qualify for positions at an annual salary of $35,519. Those with a Ph.D. could begin at $42,976, while some individuals with experience and an advanced degree could start at $51,508. Starting salaries were slightly higher in selected areas where the prevailing local pay was higher. The average annual salary for economists employed by the Federal Government was $81,852 a year in 2003.
Looking forward to hearing everyone's opinions and advice