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Thread: Entry level salary - transportation planner

  1. #1
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    Entry level salary - transportation planner

    I am negotiating my salary as an entry level transportation planner with a private consulting firm in the SF Bay Area. I just graduated with a Masters in City Planning in May (from an Ivy League school, if that matters). I have 5 years of work experience prior to getting my masters (most of which is unrelated to planning, however).

    I think their offer may be on the low side, so I would like to have a number (based in reality, of course) that I can counter with.

    Any ideas on what salary range I should ask for based on my experience above?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Use the APA Salary Survey to give you a range. I "think" they have adjusted survey results with and without respondents from California. The cost of living is higher and it skews the survey results. I recommend purchasing the book "Fearless Interviewing" as they have good techniques for how to answer the salary question.

    Answering the salary question is not necessarily the same as negotiating. You should go into an interview with a range, but don't be the first person to pull the tool out of the toolbox. You are fresh out of school with zero years of relevant experience. It doesn't matter if you have a graduate degree or even a masters degree. You have to build a reputation as a worker BEFORE a negotiator. Take what you can get in this economy when you are fresh out of school.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  3. #3
    Congrats on the job offer. Since this is your first planning-related job, there might not be much room to negotiate. Experience is king. This is especially true consulting where they're selling expertise.

    Consulting is all about billable hours. I doubt they will bill your time to a client right away. The client is going to want to see some training and experience. When you do become billable, you are making money for the company at that point. You could accept a lower salary now and negotiate a higher salary for when you become billable.

    Just my two cents. The economy is still weak and recent planning grads can be bought a dime a dozen.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Huh?

    Clients award contracts based on pay, scope, time lines, and relevant work COMPLETED BY THE FIRM. Individual resumes on the project teams are important, but hardly a deciding factor in a contract with an entry-level worker. Chances are the contract was already in the works before the new planner was brought on. Clients want to see deliverable on time and within budget. I billed 7 different job numbers on my first day as an entry-level consultant in July 2005. However, when I started my next job as a mid-level planner 4 1/2 years later I billed the first week or so to administrative accounting codes. I think it has to do with corporate culture of the firm, accounting practices, types of projects, and the project manager overseeing the contract. A worker's billable rate (or rate(S)) is the rate charged to the client. Workers will usually start with a salary that is 1/4-1/3 the billable rate. The difference is profit for the firm, other overhead. Even as an independent contractor my billable rate is not the same as my earnings, although the percentage is far greater than 1/3 as I have far less overhead.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  5. #5
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    This is very helpful and puts things into perspective for me.
    Thank you both!

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