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Thread: Considering planning degree, concerned about job market

  1. #1

    Considering planning degree, concerned about job market

    Hey all, I'm new here.

    I've been considering getting an undergraduate degree in Urban Planning from the University of Utah. I was (for a short time) a landscape arch student and really enjoyed the planning aspect of the job.

    Anyway, a few weeks ago I was browsing this forum and saw some posts that concerned me.. Basically it sounded like the job market was terrible and salaries for the few jobs there are were terrible as well. I've had a hell of a time trying to decide what to major in. I think I would really enjoy this field, but it sounds like it might be a waste of time and energy if I wouldn't fall into a job that pays more than I make now. If I even could find a job.

    Can anyone offer me any insight? I don't want to make a mistake and major in a field that won't result in a decent job.

    I appreciate any help!

  2. #2
    Mar 2010
    San Francisco
    It's a tough market right now to be in the planning or design field to be sure. You hear stories about how it's so quiet at city development services departments that you can hear a pin drop, or about planning and architecture firms having taken an ax to their payrolls across the board. But it's also a tough market to be in many other fields like law or business, for instance. It may not seem like it now, but planners will continue to be in high demand as our urban populations continue to grow, get older, and put a strain on limited resources like space, parking, and natural resources, etc. If there are truly aspects of the planning profession that have resonated with you, I wouldn't discount the field on account of the dismal state of the current economy. It won't stay like this forever; the housing collapse has softened and most economic indicators show that we've seen the bottom of it. In this environment, it may be ideal for you to pursue your degree so that when you're done, it's very likely that firms and municipalities will be hiring again. I'm not sure what your expectations are in terms of salaries. Planners, for the most part, don't make huge sums of money unless they're at the very senior level, but they do earn a comfortable living. It'll be up to you to weigh the passion you may have for planning work against your expectations for pay. If you haven't already, I'd suggest that you contact some planning firms or city planning departments and do an informational interview to get a sense of the day-to-day in the planning world and also get the low-down on their fiscal situation. You may also want to look up college planning instructors as many are practicing planners and ready and willing to offer advice to a potential future planner like yourself. I hope this helps!

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