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Thread: Are urban planning salaries growing at all?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Are urban planning salaries growing at all?

    I don't mean this question as a joke but I am curious. I forget but there was a website that said Urban Planners had a median salary of about $40,000 in 2000. In 2004, the median salary was around $53,000. Has the salary jumped within those four years? I am sure some of you know. I am still a student so that is why I am curious. Are salaries increasing or is it just wishful thinking?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    Don't trust everything you read on the web

    Quote Originally posted by lucifer
    I don't mean this question as a joke but I am curious. I forget but there was a website that said Urban Planners had a median salary of about $40,000 in 2000. In 2004, the median salary was around $53,000. Has the salary jumped within those four years? I am sure some of you know. I am still a student so that is why I am curious. Are salaries increasing or is it just wishful thinking?
    Its impossible to pick one number for a field as varied as planning. Geography and subfield make such a huge difference, as does even a little experience. Its fair to say that entry level planning jobs pay between $30-40K (a little less in some parts of the country) and that the highest paying jobs in the public sector top $100K after around 10-15 years experience. To go higher you would need to go private and/or go into development.

    The other issue is quality of life. Planning jobs vary a great deal in terms of vacation time, etc.

    Are they growing? A little bit bit not as much as the numbers you read.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    It all depends. For instance, look at the salaries in California. They look great. But then factor in the cost of housing....not so good. It all depends.....
    Annoyingly insensitive

  4. #4
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    Mine is up by about 40% in the last 4.5 years (and will probably go up by another 7% in the next six months). And I've been in the same position, unless you count the name change. It all depends on where you work. If you work in an area that is growing like gangbusters and having a hard time recruiting (like Alberta), then you will probably see your income grow faster too.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    In my area, not really. 6% or so raise over 2 year life of contract. Barely keeping up with inflation, and not matching housing price increases.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  6. #6
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    My salary has only gone up substantially when I've changed jobs, each to a progressively more responsible position. And geography has a lot to do with it. Where I started, in Iowa, planners don't get paid squat.

  7. #7

    APA Website....

    APA did a whole wage study on what planners make. Depending on state, position, experience, AICP certification, it can certainly make a difference in what you make.

    I know for myself personally, I was lucky to find a position starting out that paid for my last year of schooling as well as pay a decent salary. Benefits are huge as well because of the rising costs there. Shop around, ask questions....

    One thing I would like to see happen for beginner planners is a course that shows them how to negotigate their wages. In my last two jobs, I was able to get a higher salary from just knowing a little bit about the game. In fact, I was able to get one job to pay relocation costs.
    Forechecking is overrated.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian MM1648's avatar
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    Numbers

    Quote Originally posted by lucifer
    I don't mean this question as a joke but I am curious. I forget but there was a website that said Urban Planners had a median salary of about $40,000 in 2000. In 2004, the median salary was around $53,000. Has the salary jumped within those four years? I am sure some of you know. I am still a student so that is why I am curious. Are salaries increasing or is it just wishful thinking?

    Lucifer.. you are correct. The number is around there. I am also a professional planner in training

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor's listing for "Urban and Regional Planners" in its 2004-2005 Occupational Outlook Handbook has more info.

    I would have provided a link to it, but I am new to this, so I cannot insert Urls until i post 5 comments or something.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CCMNUT39
    One thing I would like to see happen for beginner planners is a course that shows them how to negotigate their wages. In my last two jobs, I was able to get a higher salary from just knowing a little bit about the game. In fact, I was able to get one job to pay relocation costs.
    Well... any advice, then? Time for Professor CCMNUT39 to step up to the plate! I'd love to hear any suggestions, scenarios, and so forth.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    Advice

    Quote Originally posted by abrowne
    Well... any advice, then? Time for Professor CCMNUT39 to step up to the plate! I'd love to hear any suggestions, scenarios, and so forth.
    First off, make the employer name a salary first and then negotiate up from that. That way you don't low-ball yourself. In terms of moving expenses, educational costs, etc., never hurts to ask if you are polite.

    If its a public sector job they may be limited in what they can do with respect to salary, etc., but they may be able to make quality of life concessions. Often times they will pay for some conferences, classes, etc., as a way of sweetening the pot.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    My own unresearched opinion in my part of the world (New England) is that salaries have gone up a little over the past 5 years but over same time housing costs have gone up a LOT.

  12. #12

    Hear ye, hear ye......

    Quote Originally posted by abrowne
    Well... any advice, then? Time for Professor CCMNUT39 to step up to the plate! I'd love to hear any suggestions, scenarios, and so forth.
    Ok folks, listen close, because we're not going to say it again....but this is something that could work well for you in your first, next or last job.

    LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
    Once you have graduated from your school of choice, it's time to choose where you want to apply your craft. Are you more of a rural planner than an urban planner? Where is it that you want to live, work and play? Is it close to home or far from home? Once you have narrowed those choices down, look at those options that are available to you and choose accordingly.

    Personally, I have no preference. Close to Spokane, far from Spokane, as long as I have the ability to play hockey year round, that's good enough for me. I'm more of a small-town person, so West Richland was a good choice for me. The City was looking for a planner out of school and I was looking for a place where I could do it all. It was a good fit.

    Being a poor student out of school with my clothes on my back and my skates in my bag, I wasn't afraid to ask for things like relocation costs or a travel allowance. The City approved a month's salary in advance and two weeks of room and board until I got my first check. NOT too many places do that, but it doesn't hurt to ask.

    I WANT TO WORK HERE, BUT HOW MUCH DOES IT COST???
    Leaving a job for a new one is not always a good thing. Bottom line is what your financial cost is going to be, if that's a concern. If you're "happy" in your job, but it doesn't pay the best, but it meets all of your other needs, then you're not too concerned about the bottom line. If you're looking to advance, then knowing what you are getting into financialy is important. Benefits such as Medical/Dental/Retirement systems are things to take into account. What is your contribution, if any to these programs? Are the wages slightly lower than other job offers because that City/County entity picks up 100% of the cost? What is the options for advancement, if any?

    City of West Richland paid very competitively. If it was not for the fact, that I was keeping two households afloat and commuting every weekend 2.5 hours, I'd probably still be there. Spokane County paid less, but paid more for benefits. In the end, only having one household, having my benefits paid for 100% and a good portion of my retirement matched by the County made it attractive to make the jump.

    INTERVIEW YOUR POSSIBLE FUTURE EMPLOYER
    As much as it's a chance for your employer to see if you're a good fit for them, it's a chance for you to do the same likewise. Ask questions, starting pay, benefits, organization and job expectations are some good starter ones. KNOW what you are getting into before you jump. If you are making more at your current place of employment, see if your perspective employer can match it or come close.

    Of course, it's all a matter of what you consider your value as a perspective employee, your qualitity of life in your world and where you want to be in 5, 10, 15, 20 years. Is this a cookie-cutter method? Absolutely not. Is it going to be successful for everyone one out there? Probably not, but it can't hurt.
    Forechecking is overrated.

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