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Thread: Do most planners stay in the field?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Hawkeye66's avatar
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    Do most planners stay in the field?

    Or on to being city/county administrators? or go to work for engineering consultants who make big development bucks?

    I came from finance, so did not really have the school/career background as many of you.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    I hit the 20 year mark in 2006 in the field - I started out in private first for 7 years first -

    I have not burnt out yet but when I do, not sure what I will do with myself - I was thinking maybe a tea shop

    I know I don't really want to go back to private (but you never really know) and I wouldn't mind teaching later on - I don't want to be a town manager because I'm not a numbers person - so for now, my goal is just to be better at my job

    but to get to your question: I know when I worked in Massachusetts I did know quite a few planners who retired after 30-40 years of public/private practice so many do stay for the long haul

    I'm not sure how to prevent burn-out but as you can see from my other comments in other topics, I think you have to understand it's not about you, it's about them (residents/clients) and make changes with baby steps -

    it's hard, though, we all have days where we feel like everyone else is nuts and you need a marathon effort to get it all done

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    As someone new to the field, besides the money, what sector would be a better place to start in, in terms of lesser monotony, dealing with varied tasks and generally being satisfied in a better work environment?
    Thoughts would be appreciated.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    I had a great time in zoning/land use for 15 years, then had an a$$hole boss who totally wore me down and I transferred to a less stressful area of planning. Even so, I'm burnt out on the whole planning field. I'm lucky I'm in a position to make a career change. I would say the vast majority of planners I know end up working in planning until retirement. But it only takes one horrendous experience to ruin it for you.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally posted by cyke View post
    As someone new to the field, besides the money, what sector would be a better place to start in, in terms of lesser monotony, dealing with varied tasks and generally being satisfied in a better work environment?
    Thoughts would be appreciated.
    Hmm, thats a tough one. I know so many people (in all different types of fields) that say that about their jobs. To be honest, I have a couple of friends who are naturalists and absolutely LOVE their jobs. They don't make jack for pay, but they are happy. I am envious of them. I remember my father told me a long time ago that you should never take a job/stay in a job strictly because of money. If you do, you will probably never be happy. That is my current dilemma. I have an offer for a planning position right now, but it would be a huge pay cut for me. But, I want to get into planning and am very dissatisfied with my current job/career. If I take this job, I will basically be living paycheck to paycheck for awhile, but I think I will be happier. Still struggling with the decision......
    In the beginning there was nothing...then Chuck Norris Roundhouse kicked that nothing in the face and said "Get a job". That is the story of the universe.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by cyke View post
    As someone new to the field, besides the money, what sector would be a better place to start in, in terms of lesser monotony, dealing with varied tasks and generally being satisfied in a better work environment?
    Thoughts would be appreciated.
    I think the private sector as a whole has a greater variety of work than the public or the non-for-profit. After all, clients are paying us to do the work that they won't do themselves.

    However, even individuals in the private sector can still have mundane or repititive tasks. Private and public sector jobs have their pro's and con's. If you want more paid time off (holidays, vacation time, etc.) learn everything about the community you work for, work directly with the residents, than the public sector might be a better fit. If you want to run a firm of your own one day (like me), learn alot about alot of different communities, and hopefully take on a lot of different projects, than the private sector might be a better fit.

    I think I am private sector planning for the long haul. My mentor is a retired founder of the firm I work for. He started a new firm that he does much more pro-bono planning in his semi-retirement. He is in his late 60's but has a youthful vigor. I don't think he is ever planning on retiring, and has been in planning for over 45 years! I want to follow in his footsteps.

    But I do agree with what zoning goddess said that all it takes is for one jerk to make you disillusioned about planning (hopefully that won't happen to me-knock on wood).

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    I moved onto civil engineering after 5 years.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    can't pass this one up, sorry...

    and we still like Jeff anyway...

  9. #9
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    I wouldn't want to move up to being a city/county administrator. I like actually making things happen, and I wouldn't want to spend my days just putting out fires. Seems that is what most administrators get stuck doing. However, I wouldn't mind moving on to something more specialized, in time, like administrating a PDR program or something like that. The only way I'd leave the planning field entirely would be if I got a windfall and was able to start my own business, which would have nothing to do with planning.

  10. #10
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by cch View post
    I wouldn't want to move up to being a city/county administrator. I like actually making things happen, .
    That's exactly why I moved up to administrator. I was tired of getting overruled. It still occasionally happens with the Council, but you will have that.
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    I've been in the private sector for almost 6 years and prefer it. Although I did enjoy my time working for the city, I knew that my future was limited to the position that I held and the tasks that I performed. I didn't see any room for growth or advancement as all of the senior level positions were held by old-timers who had no intentions on leaving until their retirement kicked in. I had too much ambition to wait for that to happen, so when the opportunity was offered to me, I took it. Will I stay in the field 20 years from now, I'm not sure. It's my goal to reevaluate my goals and career when I hit the 10 yr mark, which is in 2 yrs.
    "A witty woman is a treasure, a witty beauty is a power!"

  12. #12
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    civil engineer --> planner?

    Quote Originally posted by Jeff View post
    I moved onto civil engineering after 5 years.
    Interesting. I graduated 1 year ago and have been working at a civil engineering consulting outfit. I know I'm a young graduate and all, but I've found that I'm dissatisfied with my job. I find site engineering too focused a scope, and I interact with my computer much more than I'd like.

    My office is also in the suburbs, even though I live in the city. I'd really like live AND work in the city. I want to explore moving onto something more big-picture and urban-planning-related, perhaps in a place like L.A.

    Can an engineering-degreed candidate like me into the planning discipline somehow? Would the private or public sector be more receptive of someone of my background and interests? Background = MS Civil & Environmental Engineering (but with lots of courses in architecture and sustainability, rather than mechanics and construction)

    Now I can't think of a way in other than to go back to school for an MPL--that, or a kick-ass cover letter.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian tsc's avatar
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    Well to get work done, I do come inside.

    I have been in it for 20 years... moved around a little bit.. but always in public service.
    "Yeehaw!" is not a foreign policy

    Renovating the '62 Metzendorf
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