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Thread: What's the deal with Planning Technician position?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    What's the deal with Planning Technician position?

    I'm a recent graduate with a M.C.P. Most of these Planner I jobs require 2 years of experience along with my masters (I have done internships), however I've been looking into Planning Technician roles to both move up in an office and gain that required 2-3 year experience.

    Question: Is Planning Technician respected? If I work as a Planner Technician for a couple years and already have my masters, when I go to apply for higher level Planner I/Zoning Admin positions will that experience that I gained working as a Planning Technician count?

    I don't want to waste my time working in a position that wont add to experience. The Planning Tech jobs I have seen are all GIS and plan review related....not simply secretarial work.

    Would anyone recommend starting out as a Planning Technician...I mean, if that's all I can get even with a masters in planning?

    (not allowed to post on the job board so I posted here).

  2. #2
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    Planning Tech, Assistant Planner, etc. is your entry level job. It definitely counts as experience. If you can't land a planner 1 job I would take the job for about a year or two and move on. As far as respected, your the front counter jockey. You get no respect.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    I wouldn't be overly concerned with the title. A year or two from now, those looking at your resume won't confuse you for a secretary.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Okay, thanks!

    Just checking, as an ambitious new M.C.P. grad I want to maximize my energy...I just wasn't sure if Planner Tech would be viewed in a negative light. It seems like a good gig to get started in public sector planning and then move up in a few years. I just don't want to be demeaned.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    I started my career as a Planning Tech. I think its a great place to get your feet wet and work on a wide variety of Planning issues.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    You didn't gain any experience in grad school? If you have a master's and you aren't starting your professional career as at least a Planner I, something is wrong. A bachelor's degree holder is usually overqualified for a Tech position.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Yes, something is wrong.....

    Quote Originally posted by jwhitty View post
    You didn't gain any experience in grad school? If you have a master's and you aren't starting your professional career as at least a Planner I, something is wrong. A bachelor's degree holder is usually overqualified for a Tech position.
    Not sure if you've noticed yet or not Jwhitty, but this economy is bass ackwards and has been for a LONG time. Educated folk are under attack in the workforce, in the form of crap salaries and crap levels of respect. I can't tell you how many secretary positions I've seen advertised that "prefer" a F'ing Masters degree Gone are the days of getting your foot in the door because of your degree....if those days ever existed after the early 1980's

    Non of our local planning departments will hire someone with a planning specific masters or AICP.....from what I can tell.
    “The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    - See more at: http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-ph....r7W02j3S.dpuf

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Kingmak's avatar
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    Honestly? A planner with a Masters should be qualified for Planner I and shouldn't settle for anything less. You could potentially be putting yourself back at least two years in terms of career progression. I suppose it could be done, but going from Tech to Planner II+ doesn't happen.
    Join me and the other planners at www.PlanningPeeps.com

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Yes, I have three planning internships totaling around 1.5 years during grad school. But like "The One" mentions, not my fault if I only see 2 Planner I positions open up in my region over a 3 month time-frame and the hiring committee only takes an AICP 5 year experienced planner with a masters. Why would they even consider me...a recent grad w/o any full-time experience?

    I just wanted to know if it would be a good filler job to take in the meantime. .I've been told they had many people with a masters apply for the tech positions.Sorry, I didn't go through grad school in 1986 or 2001....geez

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Kingmak's avatar
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    Consider the duties of the job over the title. Answering phones for two years is a setback. Being able to work a few cases here and there is what you want. Ask about potential reclassification after a year.
    Join me and the other planners at www.PlanningPeeps.com

  11. #11
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Kingmak View post
    Honestly? A planner with a Masters should be qualified for Planner I and shouldn't settle for anything less. You could potentially be putting yourself back at least two years in terms of career progression. I suppose it could be done, but going from Tech to Planner II+ doesn't happen.
    Well, it's possible if you're paying attention at all. Especially, if you're at a 'small' jurisdiction where there may only be a tech and the planning boss (City Planner, Planning Director, etc). And you're willing to move distances (ie States, regions).

    When I got laid off from a Planner 1 position in early 2010, I was able to jump to a Director position later that year, but had to move 6 hours and two States away.

    Quote Originally posted by Kingmak View post
    Consider the duties of the job over the title. Answering phones for two years is a setback. Being able to work a few cases here and there is what you want. Ask about potential reclassification after a year.
    This is the important part.

    Get a beginning job in the field to start and make sure to get access to higher level work. Be the go to guy for managing the low level variance requests (ie shed setbacks, simple house addition variances, signs, etc.). Show that you can handle those with accuracy and efficiency and be a friendly but good worker/co-worker and you'll be able to move up.

    Remember, there are a lot of senior baby boomer staff that will be moving out of the profession now and then people will be moving up and opening the lower middle and middle positions for you to back fill.

    Good luck, 'tasche.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

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  12. #12
    Cyburbian Lowland's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    This is the important part.

    Get a beginning job in the field to start and make sure to get access to higher level work. Be the go to guy for managing the low level variance requests (ie shed setbacks, simple house addition variances, signs, etc.). Show that you can handle those with accuracy and efficiency and be a friendly but good worker/co-worker and you'll be able to move up.

    Remember, there are a lot of senior baby boomer staff that will be moving out of the profession now and then people will be moving up and opening the lower middle and middle positions for you to back fill.

    Good luck, 'tasche.
    This is pretty key. I've been working as a Planning Assistant in a mid-sized suburban community for just under two years, after spending a year interning/part-timing within the community. Proving that you are capable of working the small stuff and have a strong grasp of the community's most common questions and the workload that comes in does wonders for your perceived value with them. Being able to handle the public day-to-day at the counter and manage your review casework are two big aspects that say a lot. However, it all will depend on the particular organization and how they not only view the position but how they run the department. Even though my title is lower level, I frequently present reviews to the Planning Commission and ZBA, and run predevelopment meetings and make decisions when my Director is away. Some communities will grant you the independence and decision making capabilities if you prove you can manage them. The title may say one thing, but the position description and what you eventually write on your resume can say a lot more.

    I'd say consider it, but also ask questions about the future of the job and what they view it as. Good luck!

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    Thanks all...I appreciate the feedback.

    I guess my decision will come down to...waiting for a Planner I to come through or taking a Tech positions for a year and then applying. My assumption is that it is better to be employed in planning than not employed at all.

    Saying that going from a Tech to a Planner II is impossible seems off base to me...I realize you have experience in the field.... but that's why I got a masters....so I can progress. A two year set-back does not bother me a bit. If I had a mortgage then maybe lol.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Yup

    Get your foot in the door and show them what you can do. Also, show them you won't whine while completing the customer service work they dislike. Focus on accuracy and communication and you will move up.
    “The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    - See more at: http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-ph....r7W02j3S.dpuf

  15. #15
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    Planning tech position isn't all bad, it's my current job title but I review most site plans, plats etc. that come through and I'm brought in on the majority of meetings with the City Planner and Development Director.

    But I also only have a bachelor's so I can understand the hesitation that comes with taking a planning tech job

  16. #16
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by TomSellecksMustache View post
    Yes, I have three planning internships totaling around 1.5 years during grad school. But like "The One" mentions, not my fault if I only see 2 Planner I positions open up in my region over a 3 month time-frame and the hiring committee only takes an AICP 5 year experienced planner with a masters. Why would they even consider me...a recent grad w/o any full-time experience?

    I just wanted to know if it would be a good filler job to take in the meantime. .I've been told they had many people with a masters apply for the tech positions.Sorry, I didn't go through grad school in 1986 or 2001....geez
    You got to go national nowadays. Go back two years and you'll see me getting mad on these forums about lack of work when I got my masters. I sent out almost 300 apps before I got something.

    1.5 years experience plus a masters is planner II level where I am at, and we're hiring.

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