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Thread: Is it time to give up the AICP?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Is it time to give up the AICP?

    I've been thinking about this, as June draws closer and the APA and AICP memberships come due for renewal... Is it worth hanging on to the AICP if you have to pay for it out of your own pocket? I know this question has been answered with "no way!" by some on this forum.

    I had my AICP exam and annual dues paid for my employer the last few years, but I never really felt it was worth the expense. Well, without an employer at this time this year, and being unsure if I will continue being a real planner (more likely a pseudo planner-accountant if I stay in public sector), I'm not sure if I should pay for it just to keep my options open. I have seen some private consulting firms ask for AICP, one even going as far as to state "Have AICP or able to obtain within 6 months of hire", but I'm also seeing a good number that don't even mention AICP.

    Poll? Hang on to the AICP or give it up?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    In my experience in the northeast a lot of jobs at least prefer it. I think its a necessary evil worth holding on to - at least until you're really sure you don't need it.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Salmissra's avatar
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    Ask for the unemployed planner rate. You have to ask for it, and it's limited to 5 years. That's how I swung paying my dues when I was in another sector.
    "We do not need any other Tutankhamun's tomb with all its treasures. We need context. We need understanding. We need knowledge of historical events to tie them together. We don't know much. Of course we know a lot, but it is context that's missing, not treasures." - Werner Herzog, in Archaeology, March/April 2011

  4. #4
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Seabishop View post
    In my experience in the northeast a lot of jobs at least prefer it. I think its a necessary evil worth holding on to - at least until you're really sure you don't need it.
    Agreed. Prefer, or even require, if the position is mid-level or above. Ever since the recession, this is how it has been as far as I can tell. Gatekeeping at its best.

    What's ironic is that while you increasingly need the AICP to advance in the field as a practitioner, the heads of many large city planning departments actually tend to be lawyers, or real estate people, or other non-planner types, folks who obviously are not AICP.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Same question for me........

    No way I'll be paying the $350 or so they are asking......company won't even consider it.
    I'll send a check for what I can afford and if they have a problem.....I'll have to make a decision.
    I'm also making a case for unemployed (frozen cave man) status like others have mentioned.

    Getting free CM credits is not a problem anymore.......so I have that going for me




    who am i kidding.....I'll end up keeping it.....
    “The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    - See more at: http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-ph....r7W02j3S.dpuf

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Quote Originally posted by The One View post
    Getting free CM credits is not a problem anymore.......so I have that going for me
    Now that's what I talking about Yes indeed !

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Opportunity Cost: 6 months of your free time to re-apply, re-study, and re-take the AICP exam if your credentials lapse. That is a conservative estimate assuming the AICP application is accepted the first time (no appeals) and you pass the exam the first time. If you have to take the exam again tack on another 6 months of personal time lost since the exam is offered only twice a year. Factor in at least $500 bucks for a new exam application fee plus new study material especially if you passed the exam 4-5 years ago or longer.

    vs.

    National APA Dues, State APA Dues, AICP Due Renewal: a few hundred dollars tops (tax deduction) plus a growing number of free approved CMs on the internet.

    Seriously, folks, it's just too much of a hassle using your free time to get re-instated. Two times the renewal came when I was unemployed in September 2009 and 2011. I didn't think twice about not paying, and I wrote it off both times as a job search tax deduction. My current employer hired me June 2012 with more starting compensation because I was already AICP. Yes I am very lucky to a have an employer who pays me appropriately for my credentials.
    Last edited by nrschmid; 24 May 2015 at 7:04 PM.
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  8. #8
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    Opportunity Cost: 6 months of your free time to re-apply, re-study, and re-take the AICP exam if your credentials lapse. .
    6 months worth of free time? Really? It's AICP, not PE or AIA or the Bar exam. Isn't that an absurd amount of time to devote to this? If you mean, say, 5-6 hours a week for six months, then I think 6 months worth of that makes more sense. I can't see it taking all of one's free time unless you start studying a month before the test. Especially if you've been in the field some time.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    The opportunity cost is the time, measured in months, spent re-instating AICP credentials after they lapse when that time can be spent doing something else. I look at nearly everything from a business perspective. Second, the AICP application is very complex with multiple essays and employer verifications that can take a month or longer to complete. It takes 6-8 weeks for an eligibility determination. I didn't start studying until I was green-lighted. Third, each planner has a different studying style. I am a terrible test taker, so I had to study 7 days a week for about 2 1/2 months (AFTER several months of applying and waiting). I passed on the first try, but barely. Finally, the ARE and LARE have multiple tests called sections, and they cannot be completed at once. It takes a good 1 1/2 years to pass all of the sections leading to licensure vs AICP which is one exam with immediate results at a testing center.

    There are a handful of planners who are lucky enough to wing it and pass the exam without much studying. Most of us spend a lot more time preparing for the exam over several months. It's not an easy exam and you have to familiarize if not memorize hundreds of pages of concepts and definitions. See previous posts.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
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  10. #10
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I started my own consulting practice ten years ago, and have been paying the AICP dues that whole time. And how many times has AICP made the difference in whether or not I get work? None. This year I let it lapse. If ever I did decide to look for regular employment again, I will apply with more than 25 years in the field and a massive portfolio of work in 27 states and three foreign countries. If that is not seen as having more weight than having taken a test and watched a few webcasts each year, then I do not want to work for that employer.
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  11. #11
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    Opportunity Cost: 6 months of your free time to re-apply, re-study, and re-take the AICP exam if your credentials lapse. That is a conservative estimate assuming the AICP application is accepted the first time (no appeals) and you pass the exam the first time. If you have to take the exam again tack on another 6 months of personal time lost since the exam is offered only twice a year. Factor in at least $500 bucks for a new exam application fee plus new study material especially if you passed the exam 4-5 years ago or longer.

    vs.

    National APA Dues, State APA Dues, AICP Due Renewal: a few hundred dollars tops (tax deduction) plus a growing number of free approved CMs on the internet.

    Seriously, folks, it's just too much of a hassle using your free time to get re-instated. Two times the renewal came when I was unemployed in September 2009 and 2011. I didn't think twice about not paying, and I wrote it off both times as a job search tax deduction. My current employer hired me June 2012 with more starting compensation because I was already AICP. Yes I am very lucky to a have an employer who pays me appropriately for my credentials.
    This is the argument of AICP and APA which is why they continue to lose so many planners.

    There is no opportunity cost. I would doubt you can show numbers of someone who let it lapse and then had a panic and went and studied and got it back. The value is very weak. Once you let it go, it is never coming back. The real questions is whether or not you want the credential. The real value is continuing to diminish. Personally, I would keep it, because it is the only true credential in our field, but honestly I would never argue for someone else to keep it. When you put the value on paper, it doesn't come close to paying for itself. Not even close.

    But I do read planning magazine once in a while. And go to National Conferences which are ever so slightly discounted (and by that I mean they aren't) for my AICP status. And I pay money to continue to take their approved classes to get credits. And.... wait a minute, I am valuable to them, not them to me.... fiddlesticks....
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  12. #12
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    I would love to see APA go more the route of ICMA. Neither is a valued credential like AIA or PE, but ICMA at least gives to its members with career training and advice or best practices. Just look at their website. Even a nonmember like me can get something from it.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    BINGO

    Quote Originally posted by Hink View post
    There is no opportunity cost. I would doubt you can show numbers of someone who let it lapse and then had a panic and went and studied and got it back. The value is very weak. Once you let it go, it is never coming back. The real questions is whether or not you want the credential.....
    If I let AICP go, it is GONE for good. I'd fill out the paperwork for GISP and keep my CFM.




    who am I kidding.....I'll keep it until I have a job I can trust to be around a while.
    “The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”
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    - See more at: http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-ph....r7W02j3S.dpuf

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    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hink View post
    This is the argument of AICP and APA which is why they continue to lose so many planners.
    But is that true? Are they actually losing planners?

    A significant majority of the jobs that I've applied to around here have stated either 'AICP preferred/desired' or, in a few cases, 'AICP required'. To my eyes, it has become the new master's degree within the oversaturated coastal job market. That's why I'm about to drop $500 that I don't really have to apply for AICP. Yes, it's just another bullshit hurdle to clear at the end of the day. I was a full-time planner for years, I know how to do the work and am good at it, but thanks to credential inflation, that isn't necessarily enough anymore.

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    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by MacheteJames View post
    But is that true? Are they actually losing planners?

    A significant majority of the jobs that I've applied to around here have stated either 'AICP preferred/desired' or, in a few cases, 'AICP required'. To my eyes, it has become the new master's degree within the oversaturated coastal job market. That's why I'm about to drop $500 that I don't really have to apply for AICP. Yes, it's just another bullshit hurdle to clear at the end of the day. I was a full-time planner for years, I know how to do the work and am good at it, but thanks to credential inflation, that isn't necessarily enough anymore.
    That's just it. I'll say it gives me value in the interview process, especially for public employment, but I'm not sure I get much value outside of that. I don't get paid more because of it, but I'll be it helped me get my current job. I can't say if it helps private sector consultants win the RFP. I would think a great proposal and a strong list of projects would outweigh AICP in my book. I guess part of the question is what's been discussed. How hard would it be to get it back. I can get my CFM or CDBG certifications back with a day of study and a test. AICP might take a little more work for me.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    But the AICP thingy helps you get "expert witness" gigs at $1,000 a day. In my 30 something years with the credential I have been an expert witness...well, never.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Tobinn's avatar
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    I'd keep it

    Keep it unless you're sure you'll never need it again. I think the hassle of studying for and taking the examination once was more than enough.
    At times like this, you have to ask yourself, "WWJDD?"
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    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tobinn View post
    Keep it unless you're sure you'll never need it again. I think the hassle of studying for and taking the examination once was more than enough.
    This is the funny part. Not because it brings value, or is worth it, but because it would be a hassle to have to get it back. Sad really.
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  19. #19
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    I am always impressed with the energy people put into deciding whether to keep or dump AICP. I wonder if other professions like architects or engineers, where the professional certifications are also expensive and also act as a bit of a gatekeeper, spend as much time debating the certification.

    If you want it, keep it. If not, get rid of it. It's not a critical certification but it helps. If you work as a planner or hope to work as a planner, it's worth the money to keep it. For job hunting, even if it's not required, it's like dressing in a nice suit and tie for the interview. No ad says "must come to interview in suit and tie" and I admit I have occasionally hired someone who dress a little sloppy in an interview. However, on the whole, why would you sell yourself short by not dressing nice and (if possible) have AICP? I do prefer candidates who have it, though it's not mandatory in my mind.

    Now if you are looking outside the planning profession, it's probably not worth it.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Plus
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    I was told once about job resume & interviewing - what is that extra something that will/might seperate you from the rest of the applicants ?
    besides education, experience, maybe better references

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Masswich View post
    I am always impressed with the energy people put into deciding whether to keep or dump AICP. I wonder if other professions like architects or engineers, where the professional certifications are also expensive and also act as a bit of a gatekeeper, spend as much time debating the certification.

    If you want it, keep it. If not, get rid of it. It's not a critical certification but it helps. If you work as a planner or hope to work as a planner, it's worth the money to keep it. For job hunting, even if it's not required, it's like dressing in a nice suit and tie for the interview. No ad says "must come to interview in suit and tie" and I admit I have occasionally hired someone who dress a little sloppy in an interview. However, on the whole, why would you sell yourself short by not dressing nice and (if possible) have AICP? I do prefer candidates who have it, though it's not mandatory in my mind.

    Now if you are looking outside the planning profession, it's probably not worth it.
    Architects and engineers have mandated licensing requirements. Planners have an elective certificate.
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  22. #22
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Yeah

    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    Architects and engineers have mandated licensing requirements. Planners have an elective certificate.
    Also, an architect that can't stamp plans is a planner and an engineer that can't stamp plans is asking if you want fries with that shake....or a planner.
    “The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”
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  23. #23
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    This is the Only Argument for Keeping Credential

    Quote Originally posted by MacheteJames View post

    A significant majority of the jobs that I've applied to around here have stated either 'AICP preferred/desired' or, in a few cases, 'AICP required'. ...it has become the new master's degree within the oversaturated coastal job market. ... it's just another bullshit hurdle to clear ... thanks to credential inflation, that isn't necessarily enough anymore.
    This is it.

    Bookmark this comment by MJ for when the next 45 young planners come along and ask should they waste their time and money on a meaningless set of letters after their name.
    -------
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  24. #24
    Cyburbian
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    In summary...

    In summary, regarding the impressive amount of energy people put into deciding whether or not to keep the AICP - the considerations are that the AICP is:

    A. Expensive

    AICP dues might be comparable to AIA but it's way more expensive than PE. PE is about $125, which is good for two years! My APA and AICP has cost close to $500 per year. Those about to take the exam, buyer beware!... you have to keep buying every year.

    B. A Hassle (aka "opportunity cost")
    Anxiety-ridden, you have to reapply, not to mention pay another $500, for a chance to retake the exam. And then, oh blimey, you're approved! Now you have to give up several months' of free time to study. (Actually, I don't see why you would be anxious that they wouldn't approve your application to retake the exam, considering they approved it before.) Study time varies for individuals, I only put in 70-80 hours and passed with flying colors on my first try ("yeah, show off!"). Maybe I'm one of those good test takers. But having planning work experience helps a ton, as you all know. Still, this is "sad really".

    C. Of Dubious Value - What is the value of AICP? You might be "very lucky to have an employer that pays" for those credentials. It may give you an edge, like a smart suit, for a job interview. Or if you're floating in a sea of overqualified masters-degreed candidates. But honestly, if you don't have the outstanding experience and critical skills for the job, the smart suit or AICP probably won't help. (Side note: I don't have to keep buying a smart suit every year... as long as I keep my chocolate intake under control!) We hang on to it because even though it's "an elective certificate", it's the "only true credential in our field". I'm glad someone said they occasionally read Planning magazine, because I guiltily piled mine in a corner of my office most of the time.


    Thanks, Salmissra, for the tip on getting the unemployed membership rate. I think I can stomach that better and will enquire about it.

    I really wanted to hire that AICP guy in the smart suit!

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