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Thread: Urban planning is doing great - so says Career Builder

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Urban planning is doing great - so says Career Builder

    Article: http://msn.careerbuilder.com/Article...ome1&gt1=23000

    Excerpt:
    "Career: Urban and regional planner
    Candidates with a bachelor's degree in urban planning will qualify for some entry-level positions, but they will most likely need a higher degree to advance.
    Job prospects: Employment is expected to increase approximately 19 percent from 2008-2018."

    From 2008 - 2012 I think we have shed close to 20% of our jobs so overall growth from 2008 - 2018 should be much less and probably closer to even growth to 5%.

    What say ye?

    Furthermore, why do these articles such as Careerbuilder, Forbes, etc. always paint Urban Planning as a great field with growth and high salary? For some of us, yes this is true. For the vast majority of middle American public sector planners it is a good honorable job but you won't get rich doing it.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian chupacabra's avatar
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    Oh man, this is great news !!!

    Planning is going to be my springboard to international wealth and fame.

    All you have to do is

    grad school -----> internships -----> high profile job applying cutting edge theory to the real world -----> Profit!
    You can grow ideas in the garden of your mind.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    What a great article! Where do the statistics come from? Hey, maybe we should place this as a sticky to tell all those recent grads and unemployed brothers/sisters out there that hey, things are looking up!
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    What a great article! Where do the statistics come from? Hey, maybe we should place this as a sticky to tell all those recent grads and unemployed brothers/sisters out there that hey, things are looking up!
    You forgot to turn on your sarcasm tag.

  5. #5

    and people buy into that too....

    Why do you think I am in here?

    How do you think it looks like to liberal arts or social science grads:

    Creative field, social science, policy involved, get to work with city officials and administration, avoid the corporate world, lucrative salary.

    What person wouldn't jump at the chance to get into debt with an Ivy planning degree when reading this stuff?

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    You forgot to turn on your sarcasm tag.
    Yea.. i did. these articles crack me up. Seriously though. Where do these figures come from and how do they draw these conclusions?

    Quote Originally posted by manoverde84 View post

    Creative field, social science, policy involved, get to work with city officials and administration, avoid the corporate world, lucrative salary.
    Just watch this
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  7. #7
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    If you click on the title to bring up planning jobs on Career Builder, they're nearly all private sector jobs with large firms. If the statistics are based on their own research, perhaps it is a bit skewed.

    On the other hand, planning may not be doing great (it may even be outright bad), but it is still in a better position than many other jobs are doing.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally posted by TexanOkie View post
    If you click on the title to bring up planning jobs on Career Builder, they're nearly all private sector jobs with large firms. If the statistics are based on their own research, perhaps it is a bit skewed.

    On the other hand, planning may not be doing great (it may even be outright bad), but it is still in a better position than many other jobs are doing.
    Will a planning job prevent tooth decay? Get you the popular girls?

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    #1. The article ranked professions based on popularity, which is probably determined by a few unmentioned factors: the growth of the profession as a percentage relative to other professions, the number of current students interested in planning versus other professions, etc., the number of current students enrolled in planning versus other professions, etc.
    #2. If you are going to mislead uneducated people, don't be sloppy. It should read the planning industry, not employment, will grow by X percent over the next decade. Anyone smart enough will understand that means the number of job seekers will increase by 18% by 2018. There is always a chronic shortage of available planning jobs at any given time because there are way too many over-educated people clamoring for a planning position.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  10. #10
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    TexanOkie raises a good point about private sector employment. I'm not that familiar with private planning firms, but I know that for architecture firms, there is tremendous turnover for those who are not principals in the company. So, form a certain perspective, it would appear as though firms are often hiring architects. What you might not see is that they are also letting them go after funded projects are over and they are no longer needed.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  11. #11
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    Will a planning job prevent tooth decay? Get you the popular girls?
    I can name two professions off the top of my head that are in worse predicaments than the planning profession currently:

    1. Real estate development (planning wouldn't have gotten as bad as it did if this hadn't gotten way worse).
    2. Law (which is especially bad in major markets, where in addition to a lack of available jobs and sizable layoffs at most NLJ250 firms, the amount of students in law school has increased considerably more than the amount of students in planning school - this is one of the reasons I decided to go to school in a location with a smaller, more insulated legal market).

    Finance isn't too hot a profession right now, either.

    This is all aside from the "usual suspects" like manufacturing jobs, the auto industry, etc.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    No question, it's a great field with great jobs and reasonable salaries and it can be a fulfulling and rewarding career for the right person. But these articles fail to mention that it's not for everyone! You really have to have a unique blend of skills and talents to succeed in this profession. If you're not an outstanding writer, not a great social scientist, not a great presenter, not a great geographer, not interested in maps/GIS, not passionate about public service, not detail-oriented, not a team player, not able to work well with the media/other governments/developers/big-shots, not willing to wear many hats, not able to do extensive research and summarize effectively, not interested in architecture and the built environment, not interested in or knowledgable about the environment and best-practices...I'm sorry, this is not the field for you. Generally speaking, all of these things have to be there, not just one or two. But too many people choose this career based on a broad interest in the social sciences, but they're really not passionate/skilled/knowledgable about all of those specific areas mentioned, but will tolerate the areas they're not really interested in, because, hey, it's a sweet government job or private sector office job making $50k!

    Additionally, it also fails to mention that while it's a great field for those who meet all the skill sets, talents, interests, and demands, it is a very difficult field to break into. Too many people are convinced they can merely go and get a Master's degree and waltz right into a $40-50k entry level job. Doesn't work like that...this field requires considerable amounts of internships and experience that is not often easy to come by, in addition to extensive networking. Also, it is a very limited field. There are only so many positions available at any given time with tremendous competition for those positions. And one must be willing to relocate to land an opportunity. In addition, after talking to many people who have been in this field a long time, they've told me horror stories of how they struggled to break in to the field when they graduated at various points over the last 30+ years. Whether it was the 70s, early 80s, early 90s, early 2000s, or the current Great Recession, it seems that this field is hit very hard by even the slightest recessions, and that is a big risk involved. In addition, it is a field seen not as in demand or valued in our society as much as many other fields, such as medicine, education, and public safety, and doesn't offer the unlimited earning potential of business.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

  13. #13
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Nice.....

    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner View post
    No question, it's a great field with great jobs and reasonable salaries and it can be a fulfulling and rewarding career for the right person. But these articles fail to mention that it's not for everyone! You really have to have a unique blend of skills and talents to succeed in this profession. If you're not an outstanding writer, not a great social scientist, not a great presenter, not a great geographer, not interested in maps/GIS, not passionate about public service, not detail-oriented, not a team player, not able to work well with the media/other governments/developers/big-shots, not willing to wear many hats, not able to do extensive research and summarize effectively, not interested in architecture and the built environment, not interested in or knowledgable about the environment and best-practices...I'm sorry, this is not the field for you. Generally speaking, all of these things have to be there, not just one or two. But too many people choose this career based on a broad interest in the social sciences, but they're really not passionate/skilled/knowledgable about all of those specific areas mentioned, but will tolerate the areas they're not really interested in, because, hey, it's a sweet government job or private sector office job making $50k!

    Additionally, it also fails to mention that while it's a great field for those who meet all the skill sets, talents, interests, and demands, it is a very difficult field to break into. Too many people are convinced they can merely go and get a Master's degree and waltz right into a $40-50k entry level job. Doesn't work like that...this field requires considerable amounts of internships and experience that is not often easy to come by, in addition to extensive networking. Also, it is a very limited field. There are only so many positions available at any given time with tremendous competition for those positions. And one must be willing to relocate to land an opportunity. In addition, after talking to many people who have been in this field a long time, they've told me horror stories of how they struggled to break in to the field when they graduated at various points over the last 30+ years. Whether it was the 70s, early 80s, early 90s, early 2000s, or the current Great Recession, it seems that this field is hit very hard by even the slightest recessions, and that is a big risk involved. In addition, it is a field seen not as in demand or valued in our society as much as many other fields, such as medicine, education, and public safety, and doesn't offer the unlimited earning potential of business.
    Post of the day me thinks Except that funny part about education being of value to society right now....
    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
    John Kenneth Galbraith

  14. #14
    50k seems pretty good to me, but it depends on the city of course.

  15. #15
    The employment growth projections for Urban Planners are based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook 2010-2011 edition. I've never seen an article about general national employment projections that doesn't use this as their source. But take a minute and glance through the following statement from their website:

    Factors Affecting Industry Employment
    Many assumptions underlie the BLS projections of the aggregate economy and of industry output, productivity, and employment. Often, these assumptions bear specifically on econometric factors, such as the aggregate unemployment rate, the anticipated time path of labor productivity, and expectations regarding the Federal budget surplus or deficit. Other assumptions deal with factors that affect industry-specific measures of economic activity.

    Detailed industry employment projections are based largely on econometric models, which, by their very nature, project future economic behavior on the basis of a continuation of economic relationships that held in the past. For the most part, the determinants of industry employment are expressed both in the structure of the models’ equations and as adjustments imposed on the specific equations to ensure that the models are indeed making a smooth transition from actual historical data to projected results. However, one of the most important steps associated with the preparation of the BLS projections is a detailed review of the results by analysts who have studied recent economic trends in specific industries. In some cases, the results of the aggregate and industry models are modified because of the analysts’ judgment that historical relationships need to be redefined in some manner.

    From: http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_projections_methods.htm
    And so on and so on. You can read about the rest of their methodology for deriving employment projections if you click on the link. But after you sift through all the jargon, their primary method is using simple regression based on historical data, then they tweak it based on analyst wonks who feel the numbers may be off.

    Who here remembers seeing the rosy predictions for urban planners before the housing crash? I remember seeing massive layoffs at larger planning firms in California and at the same time looking at the same growth projections at BLS as they have now, growth in the double digits. The fact is, these projections do not reflect the ups and downs of our industry, and I highly doubt they accurately reflect the overall growth rate of the planning industry. For example:

    Urban and regional planners held about 38,400 jobs in 2008. About 66 percent were employed by local governments.
    From: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos057.htm#outlook
    Did you read that? By their own calculations, 66% of planners were employed by local government. Do you really think these employment projections are taking into account the major beat-down of local government finances due to delayed deficits from reduced property tax revenue? So what does that do to that large proportion of all planning jobs?

    Go read the thread on how many open positions there are among planning departments and how many of those will actually be filled. That's reality. The BLS growth projections, and every other cheap outlet that copies their language, are fantasy.
    Last edited by chocolatechip; 15 Apr 2011 at 9:39 AM.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner View post
    No question, it's a great field with great jobs and reasonable salaries and it can be a fulfulling and rewarding career for the right person. But these articles fail to mention that it's not for everyone! You really have to have a unique blend of skills and talents to succeed in this profession. If you're not an outstanding writer, not a great social scientist, not a great presenter, not a great geographer, not interested in maps/GIS, not passionate about public service, not detail-oriented, not a team player, not able to work well with the media/other governments/developers/big-shots, not willing to wear many hats, not able to do extensive research and summarize effectively, not interested in architecture and the built environment, not interested in or knowledgable about the environment and best-practices...I'm sorry, this is not the field for you. .
    This is actually not true. There are tons of planners who don't know the first thing about GIS (especially older director-level planners who can delegate this to staff), or have data analysis jobs where public presentations are not a requisite, or work as part of a larger department and don't have any first hand contact with developers and outside actors. Not only is this a niche profession, but there are tons of individual niches within it.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by MacheteJames View post
    This is actually not true. There are tons of planners who don't know the first thing about GIS (especially older director-level planners who can delegate this to staff), or have data analysis jobs where public presentations are not a requisite, or work as part of a larger department and don't have any first hand contact with developers and outside actors. Not only is this a niche profession, but there are tons of individual niches within it.
    If you are only really good at one or two of those things, you are really limiting yourself and setting yourself up for a situation where you will find it very hard to land a job staring out (when there are so few jobs in planning to begin with), as well as being able to adjust your role to fit the needs of the community or your clients, and ultimately making it harder to weather recessions and survive layoffs and company/department reorganization. The ones that are very good at all the different little niches will generally have an easier time finding a job, rather than the one that pigeonholed themself as only being proficient at only one or two. When work in your niche or the field as a whole dries up, it is very beneficial if you can switch it up and be able to do work in any of the other niches, so that you remain a valuable asset.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

  18. #18
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner View post
    If you are only really good at one or two of those things, you are really limiting yourself and setting yourself up for a situation where you will find it very hard to land a job staring out (when there are so few jobs in planning to begin with), as well as being able to adjust your role to fit the needs of the community or your clients, and ultimately making it harder to weather recessions and survive layoffs and company/department reorganization. The ones that are very good at all the different little niches will generally have an easier time finding a job, rather than the one that pigeonholed themself as only being proficient at only one or two. When work in your niche or the field as a whole dries up, it is very beneficial if you can switch it up and be able to do work in any of the other niches, so that you remain a valuable asset.
    But if you're just starting out, you're not going to be any good at anything. That's part of what it means to be a planning n00b. I have met VERY FEW planners who are 100% solid in every single aspect of this profession. It's just too broad for that. The people who can write a Draft EIS aren't usually the people who can do a historic resources survey, for example and the person who can do that isn't usually the same one that can design a traffic study. This is where the work of our field starts to overlap with other professions and it is tough for a jack of all trades planner to be as competent as a specialist within the various subfields.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I haven't seen anyone include this salary survey from APA yet. This just throws everything into more confusion. Of course, its a survey of "domestic APA Regular or New Professional members employed or self-employed full-time and year-round as planners or in planning-related positions" so it does not capture everyone. In fact, I would say its not even close. Who the hell are these people?!
    The typical (median) planner is 43 years old and has been in the planning field for 14 years. Almost all planners indicated at least one area of specialization, the most common being community development and redevelopment (51%), and land-use or code enforcement (45%). Other areas of specialization include transportation planning (28%), environmental and natural resources planning (26%), urban design (22%), and economic planning and development (22%). 70% of planners work in public agencies and 23% in private consulting firms. 61% of planners report their principal place of employment is located in a city, another 22% indicated a suburb, 13% a small town, and 4% a rural area.

    The median total compensation in 2008, including other cash compensation in addition to salary was $71,000, and in 2010 it is $72,000, with $56,000 being the 25th percentile (25% earn less) and $95,000 being the 75th percentile.

    Without accounting for other variables, AICP members make, on average, $18,000 more than non–AICP members. When we control for experience, AICP members still earn a higher salary across the board but at narrower margins.
    Of course, this all sounds to me like just a Press Release in support of AICP certification, but its another source of information that those considering a planning degree look at. Based on this, why wouldn't you go into planning?
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  20. #20
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by MacheteJames View post
    But if you're just starting out, you're not going to be any good at anything. That's part of what it means to be a planning n00b. I have met VERY FEW planners who are 100% solid in every single aspect of this profession. It's just too broad for that. The people who can write a Draft EIS aren't usually the people who can do a historic resources survey, for example and the person who can do that isn't usually the same one that can design a traffic study. This is where the work of our field starts to overlap with other professions and it is tough for a jack of all trades planner to be as competent as a specialist within the various subfields.
    Well, if you're starting out and not going to be good at anything, you're going to have a very tough time finding a job. That obviously means that the person doesn't have the requisite skills already in place that are gained all throughout their educational and internship experiences. Still, you're right, people who are more seasoned are usually going to be better, having acquired more experience, but the ones that are fully prepared for an entry level career anywhere in the field are going to be much better equipped than those that concentrated only on one specialty with no guarantee of a job in that specialty. It is much better to acquire tremendous knowledge and experience in multiple subsets to make yourself hirable in several different niches. Sure, you could put all your eggs in one basket (be it transportation planning, environmental planning, etc.), but it is like rolling the dice, since things change so rapidly in this profession, and there may not be a huge demand for whatever you specialized in once you come out of college/interning. If you do put all your eggs in one basket, I say good luck finding a job in your specialty and managing to remain there for 40 years. Those days are over...people need to be dynamic in order to survive in the field in the long-term. It is better to be able to do multiple specialties and have the general underlying principles that are necessary in pretty much all of these specialities within our field (good writing skills, data analysis skills, spatial skills, ability to work with all different types of people, etc.).
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

  21. #21
    Cyburbian HomerJ's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post
    but its another source of information that those considering a planning degree look at. Based on this, why wouldn't you go into planning?

    It would probably be better if the survey didn't even exist. Now you have a lot of people who like the "idea" of planning, and use this a way of rationalizing their decision to study it in college.
    Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Bleedingly Obvious if You Look.

    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    The fact is, these projections do not reflect the ups and downs of our industry, and I highly doubt they accurately reflect the overall growth rate of the planning industry. For example:

    [ ]

    Did you read that? By their own calculations, 66% of planners were employed by local government. Do you really think these employment projections are taking into account the major beat-down of local government finances due to delayed deficits from reduced property tax revenue? So what does that do to that large proportion of all planning jobs?

    Go read the thread on how many open positions there are among planning departments and how many of those will actually be filled. That's reality.
    Yes, exactly.

    This is obvious. What is also obvious is no one is doing anything to fix the mess at the national level. So we have cash-strapped states with few means of improvement, and a gridlocked DC with no will to enact change. And large businesses with cash but not hiring. And banks not needing to loan money to make money.

    History has plenty of examples of countries with this situation and what direction they went at this point.

    But ending on the bright side, Planning is a profession where you can migrate to a more stable country to peddle your mad skillz.

  23. #23

    Touching on the migration issue...

    But ending on the bright side, Planning is a profession where you can migrate to a more stable country to peddle your mad skillz.

    I have dual citizenship with Chile, as my parents are Chilean, and they told me Chile's economy is in the clouds (meaning it's good as compared to the US).

    I was thinking about taking my degree abroad to gain more international experience.

    But for that matter, what nations are doing well where a planner doesn't have to eat dollar menu items all the time?

  24. #24
    Cyburbian
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    Your salary in other countries really depends. Like working for an NGO will pay less than some multinational firm. There's plenty of countries experiencing a lot of growth where planners will be in demand but how much you get paid depends on who you work for.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by TexanOkie View post
    I can name two professions off the top of my head that are in worse predicaments than the planning profession currently:

    1. Real estate development (planning wouldn't have gotten as bad as it did if this hadn't gotten way worse).
    2. Law (which is especially bad in major markets, where in addition to a lack of available jobs and sizable layoffs at most NLJ250 firms, the amount of students in law school has increased considerably more than the amount of students in planning school - this is one of the reasons I decided to go to school in a location with a smaller, more insulated legal market).

    Finance isn't too hot a profession right now, either.

    This is all aside from the "usual suspects" like manufacturing jobs, the auto industry, etc.
    And librarianship, don't forget the librarians. Don't expect a wave of history teacher openings to show up either. The social sciences and humanities are always the ones getting screwed.

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