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Thread: AICP relevancy depends on specialty?

  1. #1

    AICP relevancy depends on specialty?

    There seems to be two schools of thought when it comes to the relevancy of the AICP.

    The first believes that the AICP certification will give an edge during the job hunt. The entrance test is rigorous and ongoing CM usually result in a well-rounded professional. (I'm missing a lot of stuff here so please feel free to chime in)
    The second believes the AICP is too easy to get and isn't worth the cost because there isn't much value added.

    I wonder if the specialties within planning plays a role. I specialized in transportation planning in grad school and work in the community development field now. I have never appreciated the value of the AICP. I've maybe seen one transportation or community development job announcement where AICP was preferred. But I have seen AICP on many announcements for land-use planners and generalists.

    So could it be that the AICP is more relevant to those working in land use and growth management than in transportation or economic development?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Probably depends on who's doing the hiring. If an actual planner is the one doing the hiring (which is more likely for a land use position), they'll probably prefer an AICP certification since they're likely to have one themselves. Otherwise the certification probably doesn't hold as much weight.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Since I only have a BUP, AICP is the added boost to my job application when I compete against planners with graduate degrees. I have used the APA Salary Survey to justify a higher salary as well.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

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    Looking at some sample AICP test questions makes me never want to get AICP certified since they are mostly irrelevant to my job as a transpo planner. Memorizing court cases, calculating FAR, and remembering what planner did what fifty years ago would force me to memorize and not apply what I've learned on the job. It sounds like the concept of the GRE/GMAT: it's a test to see how good you are at taking tests.

    Of course, never having taking it, I'm making a broad generalization.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Have you considered the PTP certification from ITE? I understand how many of the other subjects may not be directly relevant to your specific training. If all FIRST AICP degrees were specialized (not including the new advanced specializations) you would only be certified in only one aspect of planning. Well, what about some of us who practice in multiple areas of planning simultaneously? Would we have to take multiple exams?

    Personally, I have found many of the questions (and test material) still relevant as a planner, and I often refer back to forgotten concepts/terms.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    Have you considered the PTP certification from ITE?
    That might be a better fit for some exclusively in transportation w/o being an AICP.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Bear in mind that many large AEP, engineering, planning and architecture firms - the types of places that employ most private-sector planners - and some government agencies won't promote you until you are certified, registered and licensed in something. They don't really care what, but they want to know that you have the apex credential in your field. Some firms give you an instant promotion the day you get your AICP cert.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Dharmster's avatar
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    AICP and certifications in general are more relevant than they ever were. While there are some professionals who are very competent and are not certified, in my experience most professionals end up getting certified. Now that I'm back in consulting after a thirteen year break, I can tell you certifications are very important. In consulting you NEED letters after you name.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally posted by Blide View post
    Probably depends on who's doing the hiring. If an actual planner is the one doing the hiring (which is more likely for a land use position), they'll probably prefer an AICP certification since they're likely to have one themselves. Otherwise the certification probably doesn't hold as much weight.
    Quote Originally posted by Dharmster View post
    Now that I'm back in consulting after a thirteen year break, I can tell you certifications are very important. In consulting you NEED letters after you name.
    I did consulting for a number of years in the right-of-way field. The clients were primarily municipalities and state agencies. The company I worked for, along with most others in the industry, heavily promoted training. Employees were strongly encouraged to pursue additional certifications and degrees as highly qualified employees would lead to winning more bids, especially if qualifications were given more weight than price as a rating factor. In this sense, I agree with Dharmster that certifications, AICP or otherwise, are very important.

    A pitfall many young planners make is that they believe AICP will automatically open more doors or lead to higher salaries. I know a recent grad that passed up a GIS position they loved in favor of a Planning Tech position because they were so focused on gaining credible planning experience for the AICP. In essence this person believed they were paying their dues. To each his own, but I'm willing to bet that person did not do their homework to see if the time and energy spent obtaining the AICP certification is worth it for what you're trying to accomplish.

    Some places, value the certification as employers may be willing to pay dues, CM credits, or are otherwise supportive. These tend to be consulting and land-use planning departments. It's probably a little less relevant for transportation and environmental specialties. I found it to be largely irrelevant in the community and economic development field. I would venture to say that the same is true for international planning.

    IMHO, experience will trump letters any day of the week. "Eschew letters after your name & replace the space wasted on your resume with results."
    The content contrarian

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    There is little money to go around in planning in general. Few agencies and firms are going to guarantee a bump in salary after you earn AICP. In my case, I was stupid enough to stay at the same dead-end firm for several years which underpaid me only to keep my AICP application intact. Well, I passed the exam on the first try in November, had a good review but no raise in December, received a company-wide 20% pay cut in February, and was out of a job by May. Job #2 required me to be AICP. Job #4 (current job) created the job for me based on my digital portfolio and I was told AICP meant more in compensation but they would have hired me anyway. Bottom line, use AICP as a bargaining chip to find work elsewhere but it's not a guarantee.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

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