Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 11 of 11

Thread: Job prospects in Los Angeles?

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered
    Mar 2010
    Location
    So. Cal
    Posts
    24

    Job prospects in Los Angeles?

    Hi All,

    I'm finishing up my planning degree (Masters) in May and will be moving out to Los Angeles shortly thereafter. This isn't so much a choice given that my wife just landed a good job there and has mobilized us to move (just in case someone wants to say -- don't move there!!).

    I'm wondering what the job prospects are out there? I'm not going to be particularly picky; I'm more than willing to work in the public or private sectors. I'd like to be involved in land use or transportation.

    More about me: getting a masters in Urban and Regional Planning was basically a career about-face for me, so I don't have any professional experience per se. That being said, I've had two internship experiences (one in the planning office of a ex-urb city, and the other with a regional non-profit transit company). Additionally, I've had studio experience through my program, whereby I've worked with clients representing counties.

    Also, my degree will be from Virginia Tech. Does that put me at a disadvantage, perhaps competing with candidates who have planning degrees from west coast programs? I thought there might be "spin factor" there where I might be able to represent a "different" candidate than they usually see, but I could be wrong.

    Any thoughts/comments/advice would be much appreciated.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Where the Wild Things Are
    Posts
    2,279
    Internship experience and having a Masters will help for sure. You'll find more transportation jobs in Cali than land use right now. They got a lot of transportation stimulus funds recently. However, California may be dropping it's RDA's due to the crappy state budget so there very well may be a glut of planners you'll be competing with soon (this info from my good friend who works up in Sacramento). Another reason to look toward trans planning if you can.
    "When life gives you lemons, just say 'No thanks'." - Henry Rollins

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2007
    Location
    As far south of SoCal as I Will Go
    Posts
    5,083
    As always, what the heck do you want to do with you degree? Do you want to work public sector, private sector, non-profit? What's your specialty?

    Los Angeles is huge. What's you willingness to commute?

    Do you know CEQA, how it functions, implemented, or at the very basic, how it effects development from a small infill development to large developments with many issues?

    Where you get your degree doesn't matter.

    To sum up the public sector, good luck. There are no jobs. Period. Jobs that are available will easily have a 200 person applicant pool. minimum. Hate to sound doom and gloom, but it is what it is. Our state will be in a budget mess for the next 3 to 4 years.
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  4. #4
    Member
    Registered
    Mar 2010
    Location
    So. Cal
    Posts
    24
    Again, I'm pretty open-minded about where I'd want to work. My concentration is in land use and physical planning, so I always assumed I'd be behind a desk at a city/county/regional planning office somewhere; at least to start. Understandably, the budget crisis you alluded to presents issues with being able to do that, so yes, jumping to a private sector or non-profit job is fine with me, as long as I can land somewhere where I'm applying something I learned in school (so as to bolster my resume for future prospects).

    Commuting, sure. I'll work in the valley, Orange County, but I'm less attracted to the idea of heading toward the Inland Empire. Again though, I won't (and can't) be too picky.

    I just wanted to get a general read on the situation and to maybe have some idea as to whether or not I'd be able to land SOMETHING.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian cng's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Greater Los Angeles
    Posts
    207
    Welcome to LA... weather is great, and there are lots of good neighborhoods to appreciate. Entry-level positions are scarce to non-existent in the area. I've seen some postings for manager/executive type positions, but that's about it. Like someone else mentioned, there may be some opportunities in transportation or with non-profits. (Check out the scanph website to get an idea regarding non-profit housing developers.) In the meantime, get well-versed in CEQA and current topics like SB 375 and climate action plans. Consider volunteering at a local planning agency to get some hands on experience. Best of luck in your search.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Colo Front Range
    Posts
    2,470
    Quote Originally posted by Rygor View post
    However, California may be dropping it's RDA's due to the crappy state budget so there very well may be a glut of planners you'll be competing with soon (this info from my good friend who works up in Sacramento). Another reason to look toward trans planning if you can.
    Agreed. And get used to living in and loving your car. Good luck in your search.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Posts
    194
    While I have lived in Utah for the past 16 years, I grew up in Southern California -- actually the dreaded Inland Empire --, and went to Cal Poly SLO before working in Southern California in the public and private sectors for about 20 years. My reason for the quick bio is that as a native Southern Californian, I am always amazed about how little people from outside of SC know about life in SC.

    Here is the reality. Everything is very expensive, even now. Housing costs are still very high in relation to most of the US and if you want to own a home, plan on living in the dreaded Inland Empire or some other fringe place. You will be lucky to live in the old Inland Empire -- the western parts --, versus the new Inland Empire which is the new, suburban sprawl on the real fringes. If you want to work in LA or OC, plan on a minimum 90 minute auto commute one way if you drive alone, a 70 minute auto commute if you carpool or can use and afford a FastPass and a 60 train ride if you are lucky to work near a Metrolink station. Remember when I told you that everything is expensive, gas is very expensive so that add that to the monthly cost of your home.

    My suggestion is if you want to buy a home or ultimately buy a home, try to find work in one of the fringe cities (Inland Empire again) and lessen you daily stress tremendously. Also, like others have said, there are few, if any, jobs there as well. Way too many planners in SC for the amount of work today.

    My apologies for the somewhat harsh and sarcastic tone, but living in Southern California is not like living in any other place. Expect a lot of sticker shock. Do you remember that I said I now in Salt Lake City. You can see why.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2007
    Location
    As far south of SoCal as I Will Go
    Posts
    5,083
    Quote Originally posted by Double019 View post

    Commuting, sure. I'll work in the valley, Orange County, but I'm less attracted to the idea of heading toward the Inland Empire. Again though, I won't (and can't) be too picky.

    I just wanted to get a general read on the situation and to maybe have some idea as to whether or not I'd be able to land SOMETHING.
    If you don't know CEQA good luck on landing any gig whether it be private or public. Read up as much as you can. SCAG (Southern California Council of Governments) typically have limited term gigs available, but again very highly competitive.

    In terms of commute, I don't think you have grasped the severity of an LA Commute. Depending on where you are starting and going, your commute may range from 45 minutes to 2 hours.

    You might be able to land a private gig working as a land use planner, however as with everything else, you need to do some facetime. Contact some private firms and set up informal meet and greets.
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  9. #9
    Cyburbian cng's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Greater Los Angeles
    Posts
    207
    Quote Originally posted by smccutchan1 View post
    My apologies for the somewhat harsh and sarcastic tone, but living in Southern California is not like living in any other place. Expect a lot of sticker shock. Do you remember that I said I now in Salt Lake City. You can see why.
    I agree mostly with what you said, but I would add that if you take a strategic approach to things, you might be able to work things out. A job at a "fringe" municipality can be very rewarding. I was hired by the City of LA about five years ago, and returned to my old place of employment after working there for 3 weeks because I felt pigeonholed in my assignments (no hard feelings). I now work for smaller municipality in the suburb/exurb area in Southern California and have gained a broad variety of planning experience. As a mid-level planner, I was able to afford a home (this was right before the big housing collapse, so it's even more affordable now). I even go home for lunch since home is 7 minutes from work. Get to know the areas well, and be strategic about where you work and where you and your wife live, and think through your commute routine.
    Last edited by cng; 08 Feb 2011 at 3:38 PM. Reason: clarification

  10. #10
    Member
    Registered
    Mar 2010
    Location
    So. Cal
    Posts
    24
    I appreciate all the comments/feedback; I really do. I can see that CEQA is definitely something I'm going to have to familiarize myself with; I'll make every effort to do that.

    As far as the live/work dynamic, I may have come off as somewhat naive, but I'm well aware that commuting in and around LA is not a cakewalk. At the moment, we have a place in west LA and it's close to where my wife works (so at least one of us is not going to have a horrible commute), so that's what I'm working with whether I like it or not.

    I'm not moving to LA because I think there is some groundswell of planning jobs to be had; I'm moving there because my wife's career prospects have been put ahead of mine for the time being. That said, I'll make do with what's available to me when I get there. I have no doubt that the planner job situation is fairly "doom-and-gloom" as some have said, but I'll have to do my best with what's on my resume and everything else I bring to the table. Maybe some positivity can come out of that.

    Thanks again everyone. If anyone else has thoughts, feel free to chime in.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    May 2010
    Location
    Los Angeles
    Posts
    37
    There's opportunity in transportation, and also in environmental planning. If you're looking for local government work, then you're up against hundreds of applicants. For example, Beverly Hills had a job posting for Assistant/Associate Planner just recently. Iirc, they advertised in December that the job would be posted in January and they'd accept the first 250 applicants. The job posting last for one day...

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Hi from Los Angeles
    Introduce Yourself
    Replies: 6
    Last post: 26 Nov 2012, 11:26 PM
  2. Greetings from Los Angeles
    Introduce Yourself
    Replies: 3
    Last post: 02 Jun 2011, 10:20 AM
  3. Hi from Los Angeles, CA
    Introduce Yourself
    Replies: 5
    Last post: 16 Feb 2010, 7:31 PM
  4. Hello - from Los Angeles
    Introduce Yourself
    Replies: 6
    Last post: 22 Oct 2007, 9:23 PM
  5. Hello from Los Angeles
    Introduce Yourself
    Replies: 15
    Last post: 09 Jan 2007, 12:15 PM