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Thread: Where does Associate Planner fit on the private sector ladder?

  1. #1
    Member
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    Where does Associate Planner fit on the private sector ladder?

    I saw a job posting for a private firm near where I live and am interested in the position. The title is Associate Planner, but the description doesnt give education or experience requirements. It only states that they would prefer a licensed NJ planner or one that would be eligible within a year.

    I also looked at the firms website and saw that they hav etheir Associate Planners listed below their senior planners, which leads me to believe that it is either an entry level position, or at most two years of experience required. However, as much of my experience has been with county and city planning agencies, where a senior planner does not require as much experience, I am not sure.

    Could someone with knowledge of private sector job titles please shed some light on this for me.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Assistant, project manager, associate, principal from low to high on the corporate ladder

    At least at one firm I worked for.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Titles vary in both the public and private sector. Associate planner is usually entry level. I know a few that still have that title but have been at their firm for more than 4 years: responsibilities and pay have increased but their title has stayed the same. On the otherhand, I have a friend who just started an entry level job as deputy director of community development (the junior member on a two person team).

    Typical titles in some private firms I have seen: planner or assistant planner or associate planner; senior planner and/or project manager; assistant director of planning and/or director of planning*; principal; managing principal or president

    * The director of planning may be the director of all planning projects within the firm or a regional director (in charge of planning projects in a satellite office in a national/international firm). Most, but not all, directors that I have worked with are also principals/managing principals.

    Principals either buy into a firm or start their own firm from the ground up. They also take the most risk in the firm and are responsibile for the success of the business itself. Principals also make the most money but they also have the most headaches: not only do they have to direct the work they also have to keep the business afloat and hopefully turn a profit.

    A principal will also have one of the highest billable rates in the office (what they charge per hour to the client). Independent consultants, especially those in semi-retirement, may charge even higher becuase they have even more experience than the principal. An entry level planner may have net earnings equal to 1/4 to 1/3rd of their billable rate but a principal's net earning may surpass 1/2 of their billable rate.

    Hope this helps-

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    The associate planner may also be considered mid-range planner. At my firm it is a planner with a minimum of 3 years experience out of college. Typically planners with a master degree automatically qualify for this position. The chargeability rate for an associate is not as high as an assistant is, as it is assumed that you know what you are doing. Like my target chargability rate is 85% percent, thus during pay periods i should be billing 85% of time to projects, while the other 15 goes to administration time, marketing, go after projects, etc.
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    Reminds me of on Seinfeld when Elaine is touting how important she is at work and she says "Hey, I'm an Associate." George says "Yeah? Me too!" and the waitress pouring coffee says "Me too."

    I've seen "associate" refer to a number of different rankings, although in the private sector there is probably more rhyme or reason. I believe it has got to be more important than "assistant" though. But, there are probably at least two levels that would be above you. That is my guess.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the reponses. Based on what I've read, I'll go ahead and apply and see if they like my MUP and the plethora of internship experience I have gathered. At least I can feel confident knowing that even if my resume is tossed aside, it isnt likely that it was laughed at as well. Well, maybe a giggle, but at least I dont think it will be passed around as an inter-office joke

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    functional titles vs rank

    A lot of firms distinguish between functional position and rank. For example, at many A&E firms, the ranks are Principal (possibly more than one level), Associate (again, possibly more than one level, like Jr Assoc, Assoc, Sr Assoc), and munchkin (everybody else, including professional staff). Ranks correspond with seniority, partner-track status/promotability, etc.

    Positions, on the other hand reflect ones actual job role. For example, at many firms, one could be a PM and a Principal, a PM and an Associate or even a PM and a munchkin. A Principal may carry a functional job description like "Director of Urban Design" or just be referred to as "Urban Designer" or "Senior Urban Designer" .. as could an associate or, in the case of "Urban Designer" even non-associate professional staff.

    "Associate Planner" could either mean someone at the Rank of Associate, who has a job role of "planner" or it could also be just a functional position (below a full "planner").

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