So, I graduated with my Master's in Community Planning from the University of Maryland in 2007, and started working immediately for a small private company in the DC area that does federal planning. I took the job because my friend also started working there, it was the first one offered, and it seemed well-paying and interesting enough. Two and a half years later, I'm still there, and happy enough, but I know that it is not the type of work I want to do for a long-term career. It is a lot of facility assessments for the Navy and writing reports about relocating or building new Coast Guard facilities, not exactly the stuff of young planners' dreams.
I'd like to switch to something in transportation planning or economic development, both of which I have academic, but no real world experience in. Looking at a variety of job postings, it seems like I am stuck in the age-old dilemma where you need experience to get a job, but you need a job to get the experience. I also currently earn $60k, nothing super, but enough that I would be extremely hesitant to go back to any entry-level positions with a significant pay cut, not that there are necessarily a lot of those jobs around anyway.
I'm currently 27, and realize I have a long career ahead of me, but I don't want to be stuck in my current specialization for the duration of it. Is there any advice people can offer about how I can switch planning specializations without starting over again, or do I simply need to wait for the economy to turn around? Is there anything I can do to make myself more marketable, or employers likely to dismiss my resume immediately for not having the right qualifications? I do have AICP and LEED certification though.
Sorry for the long post, but thanks in advance for any advice you can offer!