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Thread: Lowest salaries for planning jobs that you've seen

  1. #76
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    While I assume Mr. Baker is correct in saying that all Planners are "Fashusts" and "Commys" (...because he's a veteran.. duh!) he doesn't ever give the story as to why the "basturds" stole his $100,000 and are ruining his life. Does anyone know the background of this gem?

  2. #77
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by paiste13 View post
    I have always wondered why some professions have unions and others do not. I thought unions were for less-educated people but teachers are college educated and have unions, nurses are mostly college educated and have unions, most police forces require a college education and are unionized...

    Why can't planners do this?
    Being in a union is a double edged sword....been without a contract since 2005.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  3. #78
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    Quote Originally posted by expat123 View post
    Seriously if I hired someone for $28k regardless of location I would feel great moral remorse.....there is no way that person could possibly have a healthy life with that kind of income.

    Another aspect with low salaries is the ability to become corrupted. In the UK and Oz several planners have been caught taking bribes from developers trying to get things approved. I think it happened in Hoboken, NJ as well. Excessive low pay opens up the doors for the corruption.
    I understand the broader point being made by a lot of people in this thread-- namely that extremely low salaries undermine the wage structure of the profession, while breeding apathy and possibly corruption among those who accept the positions. I agree, it's very frustrating to earn a graduate degree and compete for pay commensurate to what a high school graduate earns in retail, hospitality, or as an apprentice tradesman. Point taken.

    However, in this economy, a lot of us would be lucky to find a job that pays $30,000. Between my AmeriCorps job and odd-jobs I find on the side, my take-home pay will probably be about half that this year. The $600 TV may cost the same at various Best Buy locations, but that doesn't impact me at all... the only material goods I purchase (literally) are gas and groceries. There are a lot of people in the same boat; as a single person, you can easily get buy on a high-20s, low-30s salary in most areas. Hell, the official poverty line is about $11,000/year!

    Anyways, my point is, if there are people eager to take such low salaries, there is little incentive to offer more money when the profession is saturated with out-of-work planners. Job opportunities are few and far between, especially at the entry level. The U.S. economy shed more than 7 million jobs in 2008 alone and a full recovery-- back to pre-2007 employment levels-- will probably take anywhere form 3-5 years. I may be a novice to the profession (and at this point, a short-timer), but basic economic logic suggests that the wage structure isn't going to improve until you see both the supply of work (jobs) and the demand for these positions (job seekers) level out. That means a combination of economic recovery, baby-boomer retirements, people filtering out of the profession, and a reduction in grad school enrollments.

    Until then, the competition for jobs is going to be fierce and you are going to see more and more insultingly-low salaries... it's just a great market to hire.

  4. #79
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    You're absolutely right. If recent BA grads can't find work they will go to grad school to wait it out. The more people coming out of grad school means more jobs will require people to have grad degrees. The only positive I can see is that students won't want to get a grad degree to make 30k/year so they won't go. Less grad students = higher starting pay. It's all cyclical.

  5. #80
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by PrahaSMC View post
    but basic economic logic suggests that the wage structure isn't going to improve until you see both the supply of work (jobs) and the demand for these positions (job seekers) level out. That means a combination of economic recovery, baby-boomer retirements, people filtering out of the profession, and a reduction in grad school enrollments.

    Until then, the competition for jobs is going to be fierce and you are going to see more and more insultingly-low salaries... it's just a great market to hire.
    You left out a couple of other factors in your argument.

    1. Not everyone who comes out of grad school or even undergrad has the same skill set or level of expertise. There is the small percentage of people finishing either type of program who already have some real-world experience in a related field or a different field that brings tranferrable skills and added value to the position. Granted, it takes the interviewee a lot of work to negotiate anything in this climate, but it does happen. Everything is negotiable.
    2. The population in the US is still increasing. We just passed the 300 million mark a few years ago. It simply means greater competition for the same amount of resources. I am erring on the positive side, assuming that we have a relative consistent level of natural resources.
    3. I think alot of our planning services may ultimately be outsourced overseas in the next few decades at a fraction of what we are paying now. The cost of video conferencing is decreasing. One of the biggest obstacles is overcoming residents' and clients' objections to rubberstamping by planners who neither have the requisite training nor have a vested interest in the community they work for. The Web2.0 world is forcing many industries to view their work on the global stage. It's only a matter of time before these global norms are considered acceptable in the planning arena. Planning is not rocket science. It is not medicine. It's not even plumbing or electrical work.

    I started a thread a while back that discussed the long-term impacts of the recession on the planning community (greater than 3-5 years). Some people thought there would be the same number of jobs as before the recession but at a lower salary, while others thought there would be fewer jobs at the same salary. Either way, there would still be increased competition for jobs in this industry. I have only worked in ther planning profession for about 5-6 years now, and I am very uncomfortable with waiting out this recession for the jobs to come back. I am looking into alternative careers and am considering continuing planning as a hobby on the side. I am still searching for planning jobs (today I just earned another telephone interview) but I am keeping other options open.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  6. #81
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    A lot of planning and design firms are sprouting up all over the Asia pacfic region; including China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam. HOK and SOM have setup shop here as well. Lots of the good designers have left the US and UK to work in this region. Its only a matter of time before these Asia Pacific firms work on US projects from the Asia Pacific base. Many of the aussie design firms have setup shop in this region as well.

    Although I enjoyed my time as a transport planner in the bay area for 2 years, I didnt see much room for advancement as there seemed to be an oversupply of planners in the US. Its seems there was always someone with more qualifications, more experience that was willing to work for a lot less for whatever reason. I enjoy planning and design, but this industry has a small frame for advancement and timing is everything or you miss the boat.

  7. #82
    Cyburbian kltoomians's avatar
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    outsourcing can only go so far...

    You forget all of the "Joe Six-Packs" that come to the counter or call planners on the phone for zoning questions and guidance...are they going to have to call Hong Kong (with Skype, maybe)? I doubt it... A lot of long-range Planning starts at the community level...with community input. I can understand outsourcing something like a MEIR update...or Design Guideline documents...but not the nuts and bolts planning.

    I would also argue that outsourcing doesn't always mean cheaper if you have to constantly monitor and visit the overseas consultants.

  8. #83
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    You forget all of the "Joe Six-Packs" that come to the counter or call planners on the phone for zoning questions and guidance...are they going to have to call Hong Kong (with Skype, maybe)? I doubt it... A lot of long-range Planning starts at the community level...with community input. I can understand outsourcing something like a MEIR update...or Design Guideline documents...but not the nuts and bolts planning.

    I would also argue that outsourcing doesn't always mean cheaper if you have to constantly monitor and visit the overseas consultants.
    2009-10-08 05:49 AM
    But what about when your local governments run out of money like they are now? Ive spent 2 months at the School of Architecture in India. They have more architects and civil engineers then you could imagine. They also work for alot less and dont require health insurance. Also factor in China. Seriously a trained monkey could answer zoning enquiries. No use for someone with a planning degree. If it gets difficult they pass it along to someone with more authoirt. The report below is from industry analysis from AEC business analysts we as developers look at for insight. See for yourself:

    Offshore outsourcing has become more common in the A/E industry. While still not conducted by a majority of firms, offshore outsourcing is becoming a more common strategy for A/E firms. In 2006, only 19% of study participants had outsourced offshore. Compare that to this year’s study, where 42% had outsourced offshore— a significant increase.

    The industry is demonstrating a greater openness to the strategy. Overall attitudes also seem more open to offshore outsourcing. Specifically, when we asked those without offshore outsourcing experience why they had not explored the strategy to date, only 16% said they had never considered offshore outsourcing and 12% indicated they were not interested in offshore outsourcing. Just two years ago, 38% and 34% of that group agreed with those statements, respectively. Another 25% of the group this year indicated they hadn’t yet decided not to offshore outsource, up significantly from 14% in 2006.

    Primary drivers remain consistent. Those with offshore outsourcing experience remain motivated by the same drivers, such as increasing capacity and achieving lower labor costs— although both of those factors appear to have intensified given the current economic volatility. In 2006, 40% of those with offshore outsourcing experience indicate they were driven by capacity constraints and 47% wanted reduced costs. Within this year’s group, 67% agreed with both of those statements. The ability of in-house staff to focus on more strategic issues also heightened in importance, and is recognized more by those with experience as a primary benefit of offshore outsourcing.

    The majority of production work still remains in-house. The overall percentage of work commonly offshored holds steady between the two studies— most firms offshore outsource less than 10% of total production work.

    Satisfaction with offshore outsourcing is diminishing. While a more common strategy, those with offshore outsourcing don’t rate their experiences as positively as their counterparts from the 2006 study. This year, only 41% described it as positive, compared to 60% of the previous group. More participants gave a neutral rating while the negative rating remained constant.

    A variety of services are in demand. While partly accounted for by a different sample that includes more architectural firms this year, specific services were in greater demand for offshore outsourcing when compared to last year. These include architectural construction documentation, design development and Building Information Modeling (BIM), mechanical and electrical engineering detailing, plumbing design and analysis, and 3D visualization.

    Significant cost savings are expected. The majority of participants— with and without experience— have high expectations for cost savings of at least 30%, with most suggesting discounts would be closer to 50% or 60%.

    Likelihood to offshore outsourcing remains tied heavily to past experience. Perhaps not surprisingly, those with offshore outsourcing experience are far more likely than those without to offshore outsource in the future. Like our last study, those with experience say there is a reasonable chance they will offshore outsource again in the next year or two. On a scale of one to 10, with one being “definitely will not offshore outsource,” five being “may or may not offshore outsource,” and 10 being “definitely will offshore outsource,” this group provided an average rating of about seven. Those without offshore outsourcing rate this likelihood closer to a three. These anticipated plans are similar to those expressed back in 2006.

    Among the many changing and uncertain dynamics A/E firms face in the environment we work in today, one thing is clear— offshore outsourcing is not a dying fad. While surprising to some, it appears that more and more firm leaders are considering offshore outsourcing as a potential strategy for their firms.

  9. #84
    Cyburbian kltoomians's avatar
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    Project design and private development is one thing...but you still need local people enforcing zoning rules, state, and federal laws on the municipal level. I think it takes most people at least 2-yrs to become fully comfortable with zoning and environmental laws specific to the area... and i still think people would rather speak to a person face-to-face. Are governments going to outsource planning commissions and other boards? You just can't outsource everything.

  10. #85
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    You just can't outsource everything.
    2009-10-08 02:05 PM
    No but its a real problem and create less work for planners in the US, OZ, NZ and UK. True we always need government planners, especially with Obama (and Kevin Rudd in Oz) in charge. With only government planners in the US there be less wage increases as there would no competition from the private sector.

    Due to the planning in shortage in Oz, rural councils trained locals to handle basic zoning inquiries. Not sure how they did, but Oz has several short courses in development assessment that last a week or two. Its not rocket science for most cases, as several rural councils only feature 1 planner.

    Most people would rather do business face to face, but that is not reality in many cases nor is it just this industry. City, State and the Federal governments in various locations all have budget problems, it could be only a matter of time. Several private firms in Oz have assessed planning permits for some councils, due to the shortage or inefficiencies of some.

    All it takes is a libertarian activist like Randall O'toole to pinpoint the "waste" in the local government planningprocess (as there is plenty), along come the angry taxpayers, political pressure applied and presto you are out of a government planning job. Just because someone works in local government does not mean they will be immune to industry changes. As Bob Dylan said, the times they are a changing. Lead, follow or get left behind.

  11. #86
    Cyburbian kltoomians's avatar
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    Luckily Planning is mandated here...not sure what it's like there...they couldn't get rid of all of us, even if they wanted to.

  12. #87
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    Luckily Planning is mandated here...not sure what it's like there...they couldn't get rid of all of us, even if they wanted to.
    Didnt the City of Chicago layoff several planners? What about that suburb in LA where the whole department disappeared? Ive worked in the states for 2 years, but in private. Seriously if Civil Engineers are getting sacked and receiving paycuts (every country I been too had a severe shortage before the bubble burst and they could name their price) anything is possible.

  13. #88
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    Why did we get into this profession in the first place? If you do your homework, you know planners don't get paid much in government. The managers and administrators get the money. Salaries in Florida are better, but our growth mgt. system is tanking and Hometown Democracy will kill it completely, if it passes.

  14. #89
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    Well ... it's clear that there are some positions out there that pay (and may always pay) low, but then, here are 12 listed in Florida right now, of which 10 have some semblance of reasonable salaries:

    http://www.floridaplanning.org/jobs2.asp

    The two that are the lowest at least don't bottom out lower than 30K ...

  15. #90
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    WOW!

    Check out how LOW the salaries are on this page:

    http://www.idahoapa.org/APA_IDAHO/Jobs.html

    AMAZING! How can anyone work for this kind of pay???
    “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

  16. #91
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    Quote Originally posted by The One View post
    Check out how LOW the salaries are on this page:

    http://www.idahoapa.org/APA_IDAHO/Jobs.html

    AMAZING! How can anyone work for this kind of pay???
    Went to the link and no jobs were listed.
    So what was listed ?

  17. #92
    Cyburbian kltoomians's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by The One View post
    Check out how LOW the salaries are on this page:

    http://www.idahoapa.org/APA_IDAHO/Jobs.html

    AMAZING! How can anyone work for this kind of pay???
    The webpage is blank...I didn't even know Idaho had an APA site...

  18. #93
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JNA View post
    Went to the link and no jobs were listed.
    So what was listed ?
    Quote Originally posted by kltoomians View post
    The webpage is blank...I didn't even know Idaho had an APA site...
    You expected something of substance from TO, aka, The Balloon Boy?
    Taken hook, line, and sinker. Nice one, TO.


    And TO, what are you doing looking at the APA Idaho web site? Have you learned nothing from me?


    EDIT: I should travel out there to slap you silly...or do drunk dialing thinky. Whatever.
    Habitual Offender

  19. #94
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    The lowest salary I have seen for education/experience is what I am making now. It is the same as I made three jobs and 14 years ago.

  20. #95
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mike gurnee View post
    The lowest salary I have seen for education/experience is what I am making now. It is the same as I made three jobs and 14 years ago.
    With all due respect, mg, have you considered leaving Kansas?

    From your comments here, you seem like a very savvy person in terms of land use matters. If the heartland is where you heart is, well, I guess that's the answer and salary is not your issue.


    I'll discuss off line if you'd like.
    Habitual Offender

  21. #96
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    the lowest salary is surviving in california with what i make today with a wife, kid, and one on the way
    No Signature Required

  22. #97
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    Salaries....

    I've been in my current position just under 5 years. It wasn't until last year that I finally started earning more hourly than I did when I worked part time in grad school as a secretary to one of the fundraisers at the university. Even with a Masters Degree and 5 years in, I'm still earning less than a starting teacher in the district with a BA degree. And I have to work all dang summer. In my city there are 18 school employees who earn more than our city manager, who has been with the city for more than 20 years. While I don't mean to pick on teachers or start a debate about whether or not they worth what they earn, it is indicative of what the community seems to outwardly value. What do they care if the person who says yes to- gasp- multifamily housing near their 6 acre, $800,000 home- can feed their own family or pay their college loans? The same goes for emergency services here. The new police officer started with the same salary I did, at least $8000/year less than the starting teacher. Teaching has its hazards, but its not putting your life on the line daily.

  23. #98
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    Posted on APA this morning...

    City of Georgetown, TX
    Planner I, II, and III
    $25,848-53,096 DOQ

  24. #99
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    HA HA HA

    Quote Originally posted by RichmondJake View post




    You expected something of substance from TO, aka, The Balloon Boy?
    Taken hook, line, and sinker. Nice one, TO.


    And TO, what are you doing looking at the APA Idaho web site? Have you learned nothing from me?


    EDIT: I should travel out there to slap you silly...or do drunk dialing thinky. Whatever.
    Thanks RJ, the only reason I picked I Da HO was because it had the blank web page A visit from you would almost be worth the girly slaps likely to be administered as punishment

    Kltoomians and JNA, thanks for falling for my obvious trap

    As for Georgetown Texas, I interviewed there for the Director position almost four years ago.....I don't think they wanted to hire me because of salary issues
    “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

  25. #100
    Cyburbian
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    http://www.planetizen.com/node/41746

    AICP, Masters required all for 42k. Why not become a teacher? Most states will pay for your Masters, higher pay and you get the summers off.

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