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Thread: How much money do urban designers make?

  1. #1
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    How much money do urban designers make?

    Hi everyone. I noticed that there was a thread back in 2006 discussing the salaries of transportation planners. Well now it's 2008, and I'm wondering about the salaries of urban design professionals. Any input?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    For newbies with master's, anywhere from the mid 30s to the mid 40s.

    I had a classmate who was recruited for an urban design position at a national planning/engineering firm in DC and was excited by the prospect of working for them, until she realized the starting salary was 34,000. In DC.

  3. #3
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    ouch

    wow, that's rough. i mean, i am in an urban planning positition right now, and i am making way more than that... and here I am considering amassing 60k of debt for my masters.... oh, decisions, decisions....

  4. #4
    Cyburbian The District's avatar
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    what you have to realize is that urban design is quite connected to architecture, which has a pretty low pay scale in relation to the educational level required to get a good job. it also varies heavily based on your employer and the type of work they do.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    A higher percentage of urban designers, architects, landscape architects work in the private sector (whereas a higher percentage of planners work in the public sector). I agree with District that it all depends on who you work for. Someone mentioned on an earlier post that starting salaries for entry level planners/designers in the private sector tend to be less than entry level public jobs, which is why some workers tend to work in the public sector first, and enter a frim at a mid or senior level.

    With your previous planning experience coupled with a Masters, I think you could enter at a mid-level in a firm. But you might need to do some informational interviews before you go back to school to find out if potential employers would support this (I am doing this before I go back to school).

    The highest paid workers in a firm are the owners. More and more design firms are led by people with a technical degree, usually a landscape architecture, architecture, or engineering degree. Unfortunately, I don't know of any "design" oriented firrms that are manned by people with a planning degree, although there are several who lead non-design planning firms.

    As CPSURaf noted either in this post (or another one) urban design degrees vary significantly. Since you want to get in and out of school, I would recommend going for an MLA. Yes, tt will take an extra year (plus a summer if you have to write a thesis) but you will come out as a well-rounded designer. An MArch program with an urban design emphasis might also help you, but it might take at least 4 years.

    Hope this helps-

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    I agree with the above: in the long run you are probably better off with a MLA degree. A certified MLA can certify design documents, which planners can't do with or without the AICP. While talent will always stand out, the trend is towards more and more MLAs/MArch in design firms and leadership positions. It will probably be easier to get a mid-level position straight out of grad school with a MLA or MArch than with a MCP/MUP with a design focus.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by PennPlanner View post
    A certified MLA can certify design documents, which planners can't do with or without the AICP.
    Landscape architects (MLA, BLA, or other) are licensed, not certified. Registered landscape architects (RLAs) can stamp construction documents, whereas planners (AICP or not) cannot.
    Last edited by nrschmid; 20 Jun 2008 at 11:59 PM.

  8. #8

    Salary Survey Tools

    I have posted several salary survey calculators, since it does make a difference which part of the world you are in.
    With an MLA you are likely to start in the low 40's in Canada. It's despicably low compared to other fields that require the same or less education: law, medicine, business (MBA), accounting, etc, etc. Why? I don't know. It seems like we are in the same group as social workers and teachers: we care so much about what we do that we will do it anyway, even if the dollars are not there.

  9. #9
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    Alberta land use planner salaries

    Alberta has a very high demand for land use planners. I started my carreer 2 years with a BA in urban and regional planning and make about $72,000 CAD working for a non profit planning advisory service.

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