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Thread: AICP alternatives?

  1. #1

    AICP alternatives?

    The high cost to obtain and maintain the AICP certification is a turnoff. Are there any alternatives?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by OfficialPlanner View post
    The high cost to obtain and maintain the AICP certification is a turnoff. Are there any alternatives?
    Eschew letters after your name & replace the space wasted on your resume with results? More networking?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Cloverhill's avatar
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    Cyburbian JimPlans's avatar
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    Maybe we should create our own. All we would need to do is copyright the name and create a mechanism for protecting the worth of the title from misuse by people who hadn't earned it (i.e. gone through our proprietary process to get the letters). Maybe we wouldn't administer a test at all, but just require an application that shows a certain amount of education and experience, a la the GISP process.

    Then we could have self-reported mandatory hours of certification maintinence training, or maybe just a mandatory bi-yearly update of experience. Hmmm, I'm starting to like this. We'd have to have a cool-sounding name, like the International Organization of Professional Planners (IOPP). Then we could call someone who is certified an International Certified Professional Planner (ICPP).

    Keep the dues very low, don't employ staff (maybe a couple) or print any materials (maybe an online magazine), and voila!, an alternative planner certification.

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    Cyburbian
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    Are you being sarcastic, Jim? I am getting a vibe...

    Despite all of its hoops and obstacles, I prefer AICP eligibility to remain strict. This is our livelihood, folks. It is proof that we went through a rigorous screening process and thoroughly understand almost EVERY branch of planning. When you read through the fine print, AICP is actually more inclusive than strict licensure. Heck, you don't even need a college diploma to take the exam, just 8 years of planning experience. Could you do this for the PE, ARE, or LARE exams? Not on your life!! We also don't require that you graduate from an accredited planning program or even a planning program at all. Again, you need to graduate from an accredited school to sit for a licensing exam.

    Despite all of the stress from months of studying, AICP is only ONE exam of 170 multiple choice questions. It is not 5 exams or 11 exams. You don't have to draw anything out or deal with site grading, electrical plans, or graphics. The other exams take years to complete, and that is if you pass everything on the first try.

    Finally, there are more and more ways to earn CM credits, including self-reporting 8 hours in a 2 year reporting period. That is still a lot more flexibility than we had even a few years ago. I am sick and tired of planners whining and moaning about spending a couple of hundred bucks a year to keep your credentials. Compared to medicine, law, engineering, that is pocket change!

    Yes, AICP has it's flaws. I prefer licensure over certification any day of the week, and I'm not too happy about this AICP specializations. However, if sticker shock is deterring you from earning AICP I would recommend reading more about why AICP is generally more beneficial to planners at large, especially the advocacy and pro bono aspects which aren't covered in the exam.

    Hope this helps-
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    Cyburbian kalimotxo's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    Compared to medicine, law, engineering, that is pocket change!
    So are the salaries...
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  7. #7
    Cyburbian Tobinn's avatar
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    AICP

    AICP, I think, started off with the best of intentions but it seems to have degenerated into a simple money-making scheme. Let's face it, the easiest way to get your CM credits is to attend an APA conference (not cheap).

    The whole CM process was rammed through with, as I understand it, the bare minimum of a quorum voting on it. When the local APA chapter states that getting the nod to be a provider is onerous and complicated there's something wrong.

    Quite frankly, if APA events are the only (easiest, best, pick your word) to get your CMs I think we're heading for intellectual inbreeding; I've been attending these events for years and, with some exceptions, if you've been to one you've been to been to them all.

    Example: I attended, a couple of years back, an excellent, two-day workshop focusing on intersection design for the pedestrian. This was geared for planners, LAs, engineers, transportation engineers - the whole lot of us. Long story short, they could not get listed as a provider because it was too difficult and AICP wanted them (the provider) to pay for the privilege of being listed.

    I think an alternative to AICP is in order.

    I'll get off my soapbox and let someone else have a turn.
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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tobinn View post
    AICP, I think, started off with the best of intentions but it seems to have degenerated into a simple money-making scheme. Let's face it, the easiest way to get your CM credits is to attend an APA conference (not cheap).

    The whole CM process was rammed through with, as I understand it, the bare minimum of a quorum voting on it. When the local APA chapter states that getting the nod to be a provider is onerous and complicated there's something wrong.

    Quite frankly, if APA events are the only (easiest, best, pick your word) to get your CMs I think we're heading for intellectual inbreeding; I've been attending these events for years and, with some exceptions, if you've been to one you've been to been to them all.

    Example: I attended, a couple of years back, an excellent, two-day workshop focusing on intersection design for the pedestrian. This was geared for planners, LAs, engineers, transportation engineers - the whole lot of us. Long story short, they could not get listed as a provider because it was too difficult and AICP wanted them (the provider) to pay for the privilege of being listed.

    I think an alternative to AICP is in order.

    I'll get off my soapbox and let someone else have a turn.
    [stands and golf claps]

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tobinn View post
    Quite frankly, if APA events are the only (easiest, best, pick your word) to get your CMs I think we're heading for intellectual inbreeding;
    we have been inbreeding for years now, I mean look at recent grads, I am sure they have all been taught the same damn thing. I don't buy your argument. As or easiest, cheapest way to earn cm credits, I think you simply don't look hard enough. The Utah chapter of the apa has a minimum of 1 webinar a month that includes other chapters that are completely free and earn from 1.5 to 2 cm credits per session from the comfort of your desk. How hard is that?

    As for AICP, it is the recongnized game in town. If you want more bang for your buck go to ULI. Quite frankly that is one of the best design/planning organizations that has the most useful information hands down. The cost? Well if your gripping about aicp/apa then let's just say it is a little bit out of your league.
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    I can't stand all the AICP bashing and whining on this board recently. My guess is some people are either bitter (sour grapes) because a) you can't pass the test or b) your employer won't shell out the money for your dues.

    As an AICP member I put weight in the certification and if given the opportunity to hire more employees in the future it is one of the things I will look for and take heavily into consideration when hiring. I worked hard to study and take the test and appreciate anyone else who has gone through that same process.

    Take a gander at almost any planning director job in the country, AICP is almost always required or at least recommended. And as I view it, as members of the AICP, it is up to us to uphold the ethics and the integrity of the profession by doing just that.

    As for CM, someone complained about the conference being expensive. Even though there are other methods the conference offers other options like learning opportunities, networking, and just a chance to see what other tools and products are out there. I agree the APA could do a little more to justify our practice as I'm sure most professional societies face similar complaints. I don't have the time now but I would love to see the cost per CM if you break out the conference vs. other options that aren't free.

    So please stop complaining about AICP or the APA, if you really have that much anger or beef with them why don't you write them a letter where they can actually respond or at least take some well thought out criticism into consideration.

    This could be it's own thread but after weeks of reading this I just had to let this out and throw my $0.02 in.
    @GigCityPlanner

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Tobinn's avatar
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    CMs

    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    we have been inbreeding for years now, I mean look at recent grads, I am sure they have all been taught the same damn thing. I don't buy your argument. As or easiest, cheapest way to earn cm credits, I think you simply don't look hard enough. The Utah chapter of the apa has a minimum of 1 webinar a month that includes other chapters that are completely free and earn from 1.5 to 2 cm credits per session from the comfort of your desk. How hard is that?

    As for AICP, it is the recongnized game in town. If you want more bang for your buck go to ULI. Quite frankly that is one of the best design/planning organizations that has the most useful information hands down. The cost? Well if your gripping about aicp/apa then let's just say it is a little bit out of your league.

    I'm not saying APA conferences are the easiest way to get all your credits, APA is saying it. I happen to think the APA is correct. I am aware of webinars and have used them. I'm not bashing AICP or APA as organizations nor am I say that they should be done away with. Nor am I suggesting that continuing education should be done away with. To the contrary, I think we need AICP, APA and CMs. I am only commenting, and let me very clear on this point, on the way that the CM process has been implemented and how, to me at least, the CM process appears to first and foremost be a way to make money with continuing education for planners as a cover story.

    As far as going to ULI; why shouldn't AICP/APA be the best design/planning organizations with the most useful information? Why should APA be second best?

    As to the cost, my employer pays so that's not an issue for me.
    At times like this, you have to ask yourself, "WWJDD?"
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    AICP

    As a member of AICP, I completely agree with this. I wish I can contribute something more, but you covered everything I had in mind upon reading the prior posts.

    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    I can't stand all the AICP bashing and whining on this board recently. My guess is some people are either bitter (sour grapes) because a) you can't pass the test or b) your employer won't shell out the money for your dues.

    As an AICP member I put weight in the certification and if given the opportunity to hire more employees in the future it is one of the things I will look for and take heavily into consideration when hiring. I worked hard to study and take the test and appreciate anyone else who has gone through that same process.

    Take a gander at almost any planning director job in the country, AICP is almost always required or at least recommended. And as I view it, as members of the AICP, it is up to us to uphold the ethics and the integrity of the profession by doing just that.

    As for CM, someone complained about the conference being expensive. Even though there are other methods the conference offers other options like learning opportunities, networking, and just a chance to see what other tools and products are out there. I agree the APA could do a little more to justify our practice as I'm sure most professional societies face similar complaints. I don't have the time now but I would love to see the cost per CM if you break out the conference vs. other options that aren't free.

    So please stop complaining about AICP or the APA, if you really have that much anger or beef with them why don't you write them a letter where they can actually respond or at least take some well thought out criticism into consideration.

    This could be it's own thread but after weeks of reading this I just had to let this out and throw my $0.02 in.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    I have had issues with National. That being said, I will not quit them. I griped and moaned about CM, but I have always been able to meet the requirements under the old and new systems, thanks to working with great chapters.

    I believe much of what is going on is to protect the APA tax exempt status. They are exempt as an educational organization and thus need to do as much as possible to maintain that status.

    --AICP, proud to be a Charter Member

    (But I will still gripe as needed.)

  14. #14
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mike gurnee View post

    I believe much of what is going on is to protect the APA tax exempt status. They are exempt as an educational organization and thus need to do as much as possible to maintain that status.
    That is correct. Apparently APA got hammered on that recently, which is why we're seeing significant reporting requirements down to the state chapter and section level far more onerous than before. That said, the reporting requirements, etc. were needed. Also, While CM is principally to increase the significance of AICP, it also performs an important role in performance measurement in how APA has contributed to the education of planners. Yes, it is a moneymaker to some extent, but after actually meeting the guy that is the "godfather of CM" and chating with him for a bit, I'm not inclined to believe it was really a money grab (and some of their recent changes to allow self-cert, scholarly works, etc. seem to verify this).

    Please note that I was a very vocal critic of CM, and while on my section's executive committee actually sent a complaint on behalf of our membership to national. Most of our issues have been rectified in the current CM system. I think the new blood they have in Chicago running CM is beginning to help--their responsiveness to our section has certainly improved for the events we register or assist other providers in registering.

    I do not see a viable alternative to AICP, and I don't anticipate one coming to the forefront any time soon. Perhaps I'm an anomaly, but I don't get much heartburn over the cost of my APA/AICP dues even though I pay out of my pocket these days.

    As for ULI, I actually don't have a ton of respect for them, mainly because of what I saw with their efforts in New Orleans and Katrina. I also haven't been impressed with their educational offerings in my region.

    The story tobinn gave about a potential provider of CM abandoning its effort a couple of years ago is very likely true, as I saw similar problems at around that time just after CM got started. Two years ago, CM was a complete cluster and prompted our section to write the letter on behalf of our membership referenced a couple of paragraphs above. Today, our section has become quite skilled in doing collaborative programs for CM credit. We have worked with local partners for CNU, ALA, USGBC, a couple of local conservation groups, engineering organizations, non-profit groups interested in planning issues, and even private land developers. If you are still having problems in your area with collaborative continuing education, you need to start hammering on your state chaper or local section. Be careful though, because we have a habit of volunteering complainers to help be part of the solution!

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

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    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    The only thing I can say is something I was taught years ago...

    If you don't like the way something works, stay in the fight long enough to fix it.
    If you don't think the AICP title is worth anything, work to change it.

    That said, I don't have much issue. The city pays my dues, I get my credits where I can, and it took some work studying, but I passed the test. I thought my chapter needs to offer more, so I'm volunteering to help in improving the offerings.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    Are you being sarcastic, Jim? I am getting a vibe...

    Despite all of its hoops and obstacles, I prefer AICP eligibility to remain strict. This is our livelihood, folks. It is proof that we went through a rigorous screening process and thoroughly understand almost EVERY branch of planning. When you read through the fine print, AICP is actually more inclusive than strict licensure. Heck, you don't even need a college diploma to take the exam, just 8 years of planning experience. Could you do this for the PE, ARE, or LARE exams? Not on your life!! We also don't require that you graduate from an accredited planning program or even a planning program at all. Again, you need to graduate from an accredited school to sit for a licensing exam.

    Despite all of the stress from months of studying, AICP is only ONE exam of 170 multiple choice questions. It is not 5 exams or 11 exams. You don't have to draw anything out or deal with site grading, electrical plans, or graphics. The other exams take years to complete, and that is if you pass everything on the first try.

    Finally, there are more and more ways to earn CM credits, including self-reporting 8 hours in a 2 year reporting period. That is still a lot more flexibility than we had even a few years ago. I am sick and tired of planners whining and moaning about spending a couple of hundred bucks a year to keep your credentials. Compared to medicine, law, engineering, that is pocket change!

    Yes, AICP has it's flaws. I prefer licensure over certification any day of the week, and I'm not too happy about this AICP specializations. However, if sticker shock is deterring you from earning AICP I would recommend reading more about why AICP is generally more beneficial to planners at large, especially the advocacy and pro bono aspects which aren't covered in the exam.

    Hope this helps-
    I agree with this. As inconvenient as it may seem to obtain and maintain the AICP certification, it does give you a level of credibility that you would not have otherwise, and gives you a considerable edge over those who don't bother. I don't believe that the system is perfect, there is definitely room for improvement, but I do believe that we are fortunate to have it in place.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    As time goes on in your career, you will realize as I have that AICP serves no real purpose whatsoever. Its a highly diluted professional accrediation that is way to easy to get today and can be attained by almost any professional planner. If everyone can get one, what makes it special anymore.

    Also, the money making scheme that APA has developed around it through CM is as close to multi-level marketing as something can get. I'm up for APA renewal in September. I've been an APA member since 1976 and an AICP member since 1984. I won't be renewing. I'm done participating in an organization that is more about money and less and less about serving its membership.

  18. #18
    I'm going to pursue a designation with the International Right-of-Way Association. http://www.irwaonline.org It's not planning related, but you could make the argument that it's in a related field; I'm in CDBG and there are no shortage of land acquisition & URA issues. I'm hoping this designation will give me an edge on career advancement.

  19. #19
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by OfficialPlanner View post
    I'm going to pursue a designation with the International Right-of-Way Association. http://www.irwaonline.org It's not planning related, but you could make the argument that it's in a related field; I'm in CDBG and there are no shortage of land acquisition & URA issues. I'm hoping this designation will give me an edge on career advancement.
    For what it is worth, a friend of mine has made quite the healthy living as a ROW/URA consultant. And it is only going to get more lucrative as a result of various states passing eminent domain legislation. You should see the little gem that Texas just passed--we're jokingly calling it the /Lawyer & ROW Agent Full Employment Act of 2011.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  20. #20
    I just moved to Texas. Will have to look into this

  21. #21
    Cyburbian
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    I've applied to a few positions found on IRWA here in Houston. Hopefully, I can use this experience to segue into the energy field before I go back to business school. A colleague of mine, who was laid off in Austin as a planner, has switched over to work as an entry-level ROW/acquisition worker (contract based). Most entry-level ROW (or even landman who deal with buying and leasing of petroleum fields) will have a degree in petroleum land management or engineering. Planners, mid-level and higher, "might" be able to qualify for entry-level ROW work but it is still a long shot. You should have a considerable amount of experience in plan review and land use planning. Contracts and negotiation experience is also a big plus.

    ROW/landman positions are more prevalent in areas with petroleum and natural gas fields (Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, New York, etc.). Most of these positions are mid to senior level which require 5-10 years of experience working for pipeline companies or other energy firms. You may either be working at a site for a couple of weeks to month or you may be closer to the office with site visits over a few days. Most of these companies will only consider workers who live in town and rarely pay for relocation (unless you are higher up with requisite experience).

    Will ROW/acquisition work help you as a planner? Definitely, but ROW work is a completely different career path with "some" amount of overlap with "certain" planning specializations. I still wouldn't consider IRWA certification as a substitute for AICP, and I don't think it would equate to a higher salary in a planner capacity.
    Last edited by nrschmid; 18 Jul 2011 at 5:42 PM.
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  22. #22
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by smccutchan1 View post
    As time goes on in your career, you will realize as I have that AICP serves no real purpose whatsoever. Its a highly diluted professional accrediation that is way to easy to get today and can be attained by almost any professional planner. If everyone can get one, what makes it special anymore.

    Also, the money making scheme that APA has developed around it through CM is as close to multi-level marketing as something can get. I'm up for APA renewal in September. I've been an APA member since 1976 and an AICP member since 1984. I won't be renewing. I'm done participating in an organization that is more about money and less and less about serving its membership.
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  23. #23
    There are several different specialties within the Right-of-Way profession: acquisition, appraisal, environmental, property management, and relocation. Large energy companies use ROW agents for their oil & gas pipelines. This type of work is a mixture of acquisition of land for new pipelines and property management of the existing ones, but it represents a small component of ROW and is not planning related at all.

    A larger component of the overall field is federally-funded projects which require land acquisition under the threat of Eminent Domain and URA relocation. DOT-funded projects are the most common to trigger the need for ROW agents. HUD-funded projects are likely second and are also the ones most closely related to planning.

    I work in community development, and I definitely see an advantage in working towards a certification in relocation or acquisition from the IRWA. CDBG is a close-knit community and tough to break into, but prior experience with the URA helped me segway in the doors. This is partly because no one else on staff possessed in-depth URA knowledge, and they were terrified whenever the issue came up (which was frequent). Planning and Right-of-Way are two different professions, but there is some overlap. I am in a position now where overlap exists, which is why it makes sense for me to pursue the IRWA designation.

    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    I've applied to a few positions found on IRWA here in Houston. Hopefully, I can use this experience to segue into the energy field before I go back to business school. A colleague of mine, who was laid off in Austin as a planner, has switched over to work as an entry-level ROW/acquisition worker (contract based). Most entry-level ROW (or even landman who deal with buying and leasing of petroleum fields) will have a degree in petroleum land management or engineering. Planners, mid-level and higher, "might" be able to qualify for entry-level ROW work but it is still a long shot. You should have a considerable amount of experience in plan review and land use planning. Contracts and negotiation experience is also a big plus.

    ROW/landman positions are more prevalent in areas with petroleum and natural gas fields (Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, New York, etc.). Most of these positions are mid to senior level which require 5-10 years of experience working for pipeline companies or other energy firms. You may either be working at a site for a couple of weeks to month or you may be closer to the office with site visits over a few days. Most of these companies will only consider workers who live in town and rarely pay for relocation (unless you are higher up with requisite experience).

    Will ROW/acquisition work help you as a planner? Definitely, but ROW work is a completely different career path with "some" amount of overlap with "certain" planning specializations. I still wouldn't consider IRWA certification as a substitute for AICP, and I don't think it would equate to a higher salary in a planner capacity.

  24. #24
    How many jobs do we see (because we see so many) that REQUIRE AICP? I've never seen one. Here's an alternative: acquire actual skills, performance achievements, good working relationships, and forget about the expensive 4-letter title that you get for memorizing stupid crap that has nothing to do with being a good project manager. If you must be a part of a formal order of distinction, join the IOOF.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian developmentguru's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    How many jobs do we see (because we see so many) that REQUIRE AICP? I've never seen one. Here's an alternative: acquire actual skills, performance achievements, good working relationships, and forget about the expensive 4-letter title that you get for memorizing stupid crap that has nothing to do with being a good project manager. If you must be a part of a formal order of distinction, join the IOOF.
    In Texas, it's actually a routine requirement of many jobs....like it or not.
    "In our profession, a plan that everyone dislikes for different reasons is a success. A plan everyone dislikes for the same reason is a failure. And a plan that everyone likes for the same reason is an act of God." - Richard Carson

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