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Thread: General question regarding the planning profession

  1. #1
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    General question regarding the planning profession

    I'm from the Toronto area and currently considering going into planning as a profession. If I were to enter the profession, I would most likely focus on the urban or environmental planning sector. However, I have some concerns about the profession. One of my main concerns is the level of pay. I am worried that the profession will not offer a competitive salary although my friend is an urban planner who works for a private consultation company and tells me that some of the associates in his office are making a base salary of $200 000. Is this a really rare case?

    As well, how difficult might it be following a Master's in Planning to enter the workforce and find a job in planning?

  2. #2
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Go to law school. Trust me.

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    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    Most concerns about pay stem from the fact that many planners are employed by government and non-profits (appx. 2/3 of planners). The ones in the private sector tend to make more, but it just depends on what firm, what your responsibilities are and if you have any ownership in the firm.

    My planning colleagues aren't in it for the money...as many professions that do 'public good' like teachers, police, fire, non-profit workers are in the same boat with us. I am comfortable with my salary, the trade off working for the government being stability in employment (generally) and good benefits. Go to law school if the money is of concern to you.
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Not so long ago we could have inserted the joke "thats in Canadian Dollars!". Not so any longer as our dollars seem to be getting pegged to each other in the great race to the lowest common denomenator.

    $200k is a lot more than most planners make. According to the latest American Planning Association survey, planners with less than 3 years average less than $50,000 in salary. This can vary quite a bit on the market you are in, with more competitive markets actually paying LESS because planners generally want to live in ideallic places and are educated enough to know which of these places are appealing to them.

    As was mention by previous commentors, this is not a career that is focused on individual wealth, but on helping improve the quality of life for people. If money is a main objective, law is a good choice, but be prepared to work long hours.

    The nice thing about a career in planning is job satisfaction. If you work directly for a public agency, then you should get pretty good benefits. In general, you should not expect to put in a lot of overtime, though some is expected and that is typically uncompensated work.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  5. #5
    Dan Staley's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by vtbee View post
    One of my main concerns is the level of pay. I am worried that the profession will not offer a competitive salary although my friend is an urban planner who works for a private consultation company and tells me that some of the associates in his office are making a base salary of $200 000. Is this a really rare case?

    As well, how difficult might it be following a Master's in Planning to enter the workforce and find a job in planning?

    1. If your main concern truly is salary, planning is not for you. Good luck in your choice.

    2. $200k? Let us all know where this firm is so we can send a resume.

    3. Entering workforce: both law and planning have issues in down economies, and law degrees have higher student loans to pay off; your starting salary and hours for law likely will be tough at first, but if you have a brain and savvy, you'll move up in salary more quickly in law. But lots of hours. Choose a spousal candidate who won't mind not seeing you, and when they do see you they won't mind you being tired for several years.

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