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Thread: Future Planner Salary Prospects

  1. #1

    Future Planner Salary Prospects

    Hello planners!
    I am going to be starting a master's program in City Planning at San DIego State University in Fall 2003. I currently have 6 years GIS/Remote Sensing/Photo Interpretation/Cartography experience. I received a Bachelor's in Geography from the University of Vermont in 1997. I realize I will be making a lateral salary shift initially from my current GIS Programmer/Analyst position to an Associate/Assistant Planner (entry level) position with a public sector agency. If I put my dues in for a few years, move to the private sector, (and receive an MBA after the MCP from San Diego State), what are the chances of commanding a respectible/high salary in the planning field? Any advice is much appreciated (especially before I begin this slight career shift from Geography to Planning).


    Scott A. Shepard
    GIS Programmer/Analyst
    TELESIS Corporation
    409 Camino Del Rio S., Ste. 205
    San Diego, CA 92108
    Ph: (619)497-0193
    Fax: (619)497-0582

  2. #2

    Oct 2001
    Solano County, California
    Read the moanfest below under "Mugbub"

    Sorry, moderators. I will not post any more nasty remarks after this (on THIS topic)

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
    Dec 1998

    The Moanfest


    I hate to tell you Scott, but your chances of commanding a higher salary are pretty slim. Good luck anyway!
    "A witty woman is a treasure, a witty beauty is a power!"

  4. #4
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
    Sep 2001
    skating on thin ice
    Personally, I would choose either the MBA or the MCP, unless offered concurrently. If I had to choose 1 I would choose the MBA (I have a planning undergrad) You might also want to look at a Masters of Public Administration.

    Depending on your background and interests as a GIS analyst and geographer you may be eligible for many entry level positions.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  5. #5
    Oct 2002
    Newton, MA
    I got an MCP almost 20 years ago. I realized shortly afteer graduating that my focus on community development was really a cut-rate MBA. I ended up getting an MBA later.

    As far as money goes, only the top jobs in large city agencies pay a respectable amount, considering the education etc. If you stick with it, you might get one of those, but don't expect the credentials to carry you.

    Also, beware: your MBA has a very limited half-life. If you don't use it to get a business position, it will become only an interesting artifact on your resume, like a BA in Political Science.

  6. #6
          Downtown's avatar
    Oct 2000
    Under a pile of back issue Plannings
    I can't find the thread that reveals all of our glorious salary ranges. Basically, it came down to predictable regional differences. Big $$$ in high cost of living areas, ie: NY, Cali, Boston, etc. Laughable salaries in the southeast. I may be one of the few planners that is one hundred percent happy with my paycheck, but my municipality is one of the highest paying for planners in my area.

  7. #7

    Oct 2001
    Solano County, California
    Heck, I am still amazed at my pay and bennies-even though I live in one of the higher cost areas (Northern California). Although, cost of living is one of the reasons I stopped even looking at inner Bay Area jobs. No 2-hour commutes or studio apartments for me, nossir!

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
    Dec 2001
    Mr. Cool Ice

    Re: Future Planner Salary Prospects

    Originally posted by sshepard
    what are the chances of commanding a respectible/high salary in the planning field?
    Slim and none....

    But you can't beat the free aerial photographs !!

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Plus PlannerGirl's avatar
    Mar 2002
    Honestly-they suck

    if you see a job that seems to pay real well-be weary. The cost of living is crazy or the job sucks beyond words (i got that shock when i could not figure out why they started me at the TOP of the pay scale) and they are willing to pay to lure unsuspecting folks in from out of town.

    good luck but if your after money your in the wrong field. I think we tend to be planners becouse we give a damn.

    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin

    Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO- HOO what a ride!'"

  10. #10
    Feb 2002
    Don't forget that you can be a planner and not work for a public agency. Developers, Law Firms, Consultants, Engineering Firms, Architecture Firms all hire Planners and by and large pay them more.

    Most of the regulars here appear to be public sector planners. The public sector can be rewarding and the public service these planners provide is important to each and every community. No one should ever discourage you from working in local government. I work for a developer and some of my best friends are public sector planners.

    My career track used the public sector to develop a local government planning base.

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