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Thread: Is planning a mobile career?

  1. #1
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    Is planning a mobile career?

    Hi all!

    I am interested in pursuing a career in urban planning but I am curious as to how mobile is this profession. By mobile I mean, starting my career in one country with the possibility of moving and working as a planner in another country down the line. My thinking is that if you can become certified in both countries it should be okay, am I wrong? Has anyone on the board done this and found the transition difficult? relatively easy?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    I don't know if this answers your question, but ...

    Canadian planners have an advantage when it comes to mobility, because they're citizens of a Commonwealth country. The planning systems of Australia, New Zealand, and to some extent, Ireland and South Africa, are quite similar to the comp plan/zoning system found in the US and Canada.

    Before 2008, when planning jobs were plentiful in the US and Canada, it It's much easier for a Canadian planner to find work in the US than vice versa. Many Canadian planing agencies recruited from other Commonwealth countries, but you were out of luck if you were an American looking to head north.

    Within Canada, supposedly Ontario is the toughest province for planners from outside the province to land a job. French is a must in Quebec, even in Montreal's anglophone suburbs, some parts of New Brunswick, and the Ottawa area.

    The UK has a radically different planning system compared to the comp plan/zoning system used by New World Anglosphere countries. Land in the UK (or Ireland), though, and it's your stepping stone to the Eurozone. However, if you spend most of your early career in the UK, it may be difficult to get back to a zoning country if you're going to be doing any kind of land use or current planning work.

    There's still some opportunities in the Arabian peninsula. If you're Jewish, you're pretty much limited to Dubai.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  3. #3
    I am curious about the same thing, but just about in the United States alone. Is it difficult to be mobile with urban planning in the United States?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    For entry level and lower level (<Planner III/Principal Planner) jobs I would say mobility is probably limited to a region. Certain regions of this country transfer well to one another.
    For instance:
    NC - SC - GA all tend to have similar planning at the local and MPO level
    PA - OH - and to a degree NY (NJ is a monster all to itself)

    I'm sure there are other regions of the country that transfer jobs well back and forth but I don't know enough about them.

    Once a planner has shown management (Principal Planner/Planning Dir/Zoning Admin) I believe the jobs are much more mobile and the skills are much more transferable, if you can lead you can lead - since much of those jobs require management and paper work and less "boots on the ground" planning.

    I have been in three states now, NJ -> SC -> NC though I am no longer in the public sector. NJ to SC was easy, except accepting that there is minimal to no zoning enforcement or appreciation of planning.
    @GigCityPlanner

  5. #5
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by theonlyone View post
    I am curious about the same thing, but just about in the United States alone. Is it difficult to be mobile with urban planning in the United States?
    It can be a challenge to get into New York (SEQR), California (SEQRA), or New Jersey (state certification) if you're not from the state. I was born and educated in NYS, and I had a hard time finding work here because I had no hands-on SEQR experience.

    Cost of living can also be a factor. Housing prices vary wildly across the country, and in some metros, you won't be able to survive on a typical planner's salary for the area without a lot of roommates or a very wealthy spouse. NYC and Colorado resort towns, to name a couple of places.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Housing prices vary wildly across the country, and in some metros, you won't be able to survive on a typical planner's salary for the area without a lot of roommates or a very wealthy spouse. NYC and Colorado resort towns, to name a couple of places.
    You're talking about starting Planners' salaries though, right?

    It can't be too much worse than starting out in many other fields as far as salary from what I've seen.

    The first real planner job after you do your internships usually pays around 50K from what I've seen a few of my classmates get.

    I've always thought the problem in planning was getting and keeping a job. The salaries once you do, seem to be comparable to many other fields, no?

  7. #7

    Job Mobility

    I graduated Univ of Illinois CHampaign-Urbanawith MURP 1985, then movet to Houston and ended up in Galveston TX in 1985, moved to Washington State in 1988, then to New Hampshire in 2001, then back to Texas in 2006, all moves but 1 were without a job but I found one within a few months..........mobility in this country has been easy, but those were somewhat different times......and I think I like Texas best!

  8. #8
    Planners struggle to transfer their skills from one region to another, let alone one country to another. Planning is highly dependent on local, state, and federal laws. It's not like having a set of skills that you can take with you everywhere, unless you mean the skill of updating your resume every 6 months to make you look more desireable. Unfortunately mobility is often associated with being unemployed and having to look for work elsewhere, rather than simply following opportunities.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    I don't know if this answers your question, but ...

    Canadian planners have an advantage when it comes to mobility, because they're citizens of a Commonwealth country. The planning systems of Australia, New Zealand, and to some extent, Ireland and South Africa, are quite similar to the comp plan/zoning system found in the US and Canada.

    Before 2008, when planning jobs were plentiful in the US and Canada, it It's much easier for a Canadian planner to find work in the US than vice versa. Many Canadian planing agencies recruited from other Commonwealth countries, but you were out of luck if you were an American looking to head north.

    Within Canada, supposedly Ontario is the toughest province for planners from outside the province to land a job. French is a must in Quebec, even in Montreal's anglophone suburbs, some parts of New Brunswick, and the Ottawa area.

    The UK has a radically different planning system compared to the comp plan/zoning system used by New World Anglosphere countries. Land in the UK (or Ireland), though, and it's your stepping stone to the Eurozone. However, if you spend most of your early career in the UK, it may be difficult to get back to a zoning country if you're going to be doing any kind of land use or current planning work.

    There's still some opportunities in the Arabian peninsula. If you're Jewish, you're pretty much limited to Dubai.
    This was very informative, thanks.

    I think I should be more specific and hopefully have more input.

    The reason I ask my question is because I'd like to start my career in HK/China because I feel that there will be opportunities there given how many cities will be developed in China for the foreseeable future but somewhere down the line I think I would like to move back to Canada because I grew up there.

    Would prospects be different depending on whether I work in the private sector vs public sector?

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    I've known people who have worked in Asia to start out their careers and then gone back to work domestically (US), so it's definitely possible. These were all private sector or NGO-type jobs, which I think would be more likely than a public sector job, at least in Asia. But the point is, if you're able to get a job in China you won't be forced to live their the rest of your life because that's the only place you can get a job (taking into account the general caveats of how difficult it is to find a job in general these days).

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