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Thread: Economic Development

  1. #1
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    Economic Development

    I am looking to go to grad school for planning in Fall '06, specializing in Economic Development or Housing/Real Estate. I am from Michigan, but have been living in DC for the past year, so don't know if I'll be able to get in-state tuition in MI, and would ultimately like to work on the East Coast after graduation. Any suggestions for good (relatively cheap) schools on the East Coast (preferably between DC and Boston) for these specializations?

    Also, everyone keeps saying that planning is a low-paying field. How low-paying are we talking here, at least for a starting salary out of grad school? Thanks for any tips and advice.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Pay for economic developers is typically a little better than a planner's salary. What you may be able to get with a masters (and I am assuming no experience, except at least an internship, I hope) will depend on what you do and where you do it. You may find some director positions in small communities which will pay less initially, but let you move up into the best jobs. On the other hand, you could find a lower-level position in a large organization that pays more, but keeps you focused on one aspect of economic development and leads to slower advancement.

    OK, so depending on where and what, I would say around $30,000 a year.

    As for the school, I really do not think it matters.
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    Cardinal, You really think that low? I'm hoping to start grad school in January, so I have been religiously scouring entry level job openings. With a masters, it looks like mid to high 30's is a reasonable. Less than $35,000 seems insanely low to me.

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    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by msanthrope
    Cardinal, You really think that low? I'm hoping to start grad school in January, so I have been religiously scouring entry level job openings. With a masters, it looks like mid to high 30's is a reasonable. Less than $35,000 seems insanely low to me.
    It really depends on where you go and what kind of experience you have. Economic development is a tough field to break into as departments tend not to be very deep with regard to staff. When I was in Wisconsin, not more than 10-15% of the jobs paid more than $50,000. When one comes open there is stiff competition. It helps that these better-paying places are more sophisticated and will advertise nationally and look for CEcD credentials.

    Here in Colorado there is a similar situation, with Front Range communities typically paying much more (with a correspondingly high cost of living) and the eastern or western communities paying less.

    State government is probably the worst when it comes to paying their staff.
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