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Thread: Urban planners make decent money

  1. #1
    Jul 2006

    Urban planners make decent money

    Okay, I have heard a lot of people say that urban planners tend not to make a lot of money. Granted of course, most people fresh out of college don't make more than 50K, but everytime I look at at planning.org (at the job postings) the salaries don't seem all that bad. I know it varies for what sector, and what region. However I think that Urban planners should be paid a little more, maybe like 5k, or 10k more than the present average salary for a planner. It is a job that for the most part requires a master's unlike many other professions that pay more and only require a bachelor's (like Advertising, accounting, etc.) So do you all think urban planners are underpaid for what they do and the amount of schooling that is needed?

    I say not that badly paid, but I definately think there needs to be an increase in the salaries though.

  2. #2
    The pay is a lot better than for people with a Master's in Philosophy or Art History. No room to complain.

    Urban Planners don't need an increase in salary, they need an increase in productivity. Then the higher salaries will follow.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
    Dec 2001
    West Valley, AZ
    most urban planning jobs are in government, and in government it is difficult to measure productivity in most cases. Looking at the number of projects reviewed isn't always a fair assessment, looking at the value of projects processed isn't neither. Quality in review is always difficult to quantify.

    Salaries come with time, true. Planners in government must be ready to accept slow incremental increases in pay from an "adequate/appropriate" starting level. Planners in the private sector can do much more to benefit themselves.

    That bein said, many planners will tell you, "I ain't in it for the money." and that's true if you take a regulatory/government job.

    I personally find my pay adequate and appropriate. However, I know if I worked in the private sector and not in planning, I could be making much more money. But would I feel satisfied with my production? Would I enjoy the pursuit of making money for the sake of making money? Nope.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  4. #4
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
    May 2003
    Staff meeting
    If you've been looking at postings for Chicagoland, then the salary does seem to be 'high(er)'. But, also, the cost of living (housing, food, gas [esp. in Cook County], etc.) is much higher than other regions within the the Great Lakes Region.

    I work for a prominent northwest Chicago suburb and I actually get paid quite well for having 4 years (post school) experience, but that is mainly due to an empolyer that is good to employees (yearly inflation (3%) increase and good perfomance raises), and also a fairly healthly and diversified tax base (which translates to 'big' coffers).

    The pay may be less than what I could get in the private sector, but the hours are very pedictable, the pay is consistent, and the salary to hours worked ratio is actually very good. I had a friend that worked for a private environmental engineering firm and was getting paid about $10,000 more per year, but he was working almost twice as many hours, therefore my per hour salary was more than his.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
    Mar 2006
    Machesney Park, IL
    My point exactly, Mendelman. Every sector gets paid good in chicagoland, but that still doesn't mean you can exactly afford to live there. Had a boss who was a planner in Crystal Lake and made pretty good money, but he couldn't even afford an apartment there and ended up living in a town a little to the west. And there was no way he could ever buy a house there.

    In some parts of the country planners really need to get paid more.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian RubberStamp Man's avatar
    Aug 2006
    Wherever mediocore planning lurks
    When comparing other non professional graduate degrees planners make decent money. When comparing other professional degrees (undergrad and grad combined) planners are near the bottom of the barrel. In fact planning has fought hard even to be recognized as a profession, particularly since it is a relatively new field when compared to our other friends in arch, land arch, engineering and law. In North America the profession was largely started by a long established well-regarded profession - doctors!

    But planners do not enjoy the same reputations as these other professions. In terms of job ratings, the duties and responsibilities just isn't as highly regarded in my workplace as the other professions - and I believe this is the same in other places. This is compounded by those in our field who really don't do much for enhancing our reputations and often look at the short term interests rather than the long term. Until what we do becomes more valued we won't get much higher pay.

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