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Thread: Planning specialization resources

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Planning specialization resources

    Earlier I had posted a thread on deciding between LA and Planning and now I have definatly decided to focus only on planning because of large scale revitalization opportunities. Now, I am deciding on a school based on specialization. The three specializations I am deciding on are community development, physical planning, and international development. I'm sure I have a strong interest in one of these, I'm just not exactly sure what planners do in these categories. I have an idea, but I think if I had some books or websites to read up on for these specializations, I would have a better idea of which one I would like to focus on. Anyone have any resources on these?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Community development, physical planning, and international development are three very different fields, and all three fields do not really have a concrete defintion.

    IMO, community development is a type of non-land use planning that focuses on social justice issues, developing community programs for employment, clinics, teen centers, affordable housing, economic development. However, many land use planning departments in communities throughout the United States use the term community development to refer to what is really land use planning department (which typically includes current planning (code enforcement, plan review), long range planning (creating comprehensive plans, neightborhood planning, etc.), transportation planning (transportation plans, traffic studies, etc.)). Personally, I think this is misleading. As the term implies, community development is developing the community (i.e. people/groups). It is not the same thing as land use planning.

    For physical planning, see earlier posts on how I define site design (I also distinguish between land use planning and site design).

    IMO, international planning is a mix of both land-use and non land-use/community development (with a stronger emphasis on the non-land use side). This involves working with grass-roots organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGO's), etc. to provide basic services such as food, potable water, electrcitiy to developing nations. International planners also work in disaster relief, and some actually work within the governments of these countries to provide educational programs, access to job sites, etc.

    I know that I am leaving a ton out about each field (hopefully others will jump in). Based on your earlier posts, you sound like you are interested in the actual site design of whole communities both in the United States (and abroad. I took classes in college in community development and international planning, discovering that they had little or nothing to do with site design.

    Hope this helps-

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    It always amazes me how unclear the school's descriptions of specializations are on their websites. Your explanation is much more thorough and it makes sense. In short, community development/economic planning is more social, focusing on people. Physical planning envolves the arrangement of the built environment, and international is a combination of both. Am I correct?

    As a second question (and I'm not basing my desicion off this), which one has the higher salary? I'm guessing physical planning, but I could be wrong.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Out of the three, I would say site design only becasue the other two often work with disadvantaged groups. Entry level site design positions (which are done primarily by landscape architects and architects) might have a starting salary between $30,000-45,000 (varies by firm and by geographic location). You can stay in the field and work up to the higher 5 digits as a senior designer. If you make partner in a firm you can easily go into the 6 digits, but that usually requires you to buy into the firm (put money up front as collateral).

    I have seen planners in community planning or international planning make as little as $10,000-15,000 (sometimes less) if you work for Americorps (although they do provide housing and other benefits). If I were interested in international planning, I would try to get a job working in a country where
    1.the exchange rate is higher than the declining US dollar (such as the European Union)
    2. I were paid in the currency with the higher exchange rate (such as euros). This might be hard to come by, and a lot of Americans working in Europe are paid in US dollars and being squeezed for money.
    3. Save as much foreign currency as I can, and switch back to the dollar when the exchange rate was in the dollar's favor.

    Hope this helps-

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    I have seen planners in community planning or international planning make as little as $10,000-15,000 (sometimes less) if you work for Americorps (although they do provide housing and other benefits).
    No one with a "real" job in planning is making this little - that's effectively minimum wage. No one with an advanced degree in planning is making that little.

    I'd say the lowest one could make in planning is something like 27,000, and that'd only be for a year at most.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by manzell View post
    No one with a "real" job in planning is making this little - that's effectively minimum wage. No one with an advanced degree in planning is making that little.
    .
    It isn't alot of money, but I have known a few people right out of graduate school doing this, sometimes for one-two years. They are very passionate about the issues in interntational planning and never regretted it. A friend of the family graduated from a college right down the road with a degree in geography and has been learning to live on as little as 10,000-15,000 a year working for Americorps (it can be done).

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    If I were interested in international planning, I would try to get a job working in a country where
    1.the exchange rate is higher than the declining US dollar (such as the European Union)
    2. I were paid in the currency with the higher exchange rate (such as euros). This might be hard to come by, and a lot of Americans working in Europe are paid in US dollars and being squeezed for money.
    3. Save as much foreign currency as I can, and switch back to the dollar when the exchange rate was in the dollar's favor.

    Hope this helps-
    Or you could work in a place where they pay you in US dollars at high amounts and grant you tax-free rebates! Where? The Middle East, especially Dubai.

    But you're expected to have a lot of experience, is specialised in physical planning and site design and live in a highly polluted city.

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