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Thread: west coast planners!!!! need salary help

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Grassroots's avatar
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    west coast planners!!!! need salary help

    i will be coming back home to the states in about two months and plan on moving to the west coast with my new fiance. i am from the east (NC), but plan on searching for jobs in california, oregon, and washington state. can somebody tell me what an acceptable salary is? i am primarily looking at middle (sacromento area) to northern california. private and public sector...doesn't matter. i will be looking for an associate level position befitting someone with an MA and a little over 4 years experience counting internships; 3 years solid work experience with 2 being planning overseas. according to APA, i should be asking for about 48K/year. is this accurate? any help would be great.
    Jesse Ventura in 2012!

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  2. #2
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Use the APA's salary calculator to determine your value:

    http://www.planning.org/salary/pdf/wksheet.PDF

    It's a one page PDF document and is simple to use.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    Originally posted by Beaner
    Use the APA's salary calculator to determine your value:

    .
    Trying not to laugh too hard

  4. #4
    Cyburbian jmf's avatar
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    Originally posted by Beaner
    Use the APA's salary calculator to determine your value:

    http://www.planning.org/salary/pdf/wksheet.PDF

    It's a one page PDF document and is simple to use.
    Totally off-topic but....Interesting.....

    I tried it and adjusted the amount for AICP to $1000 for CIP and came out with $27,027US which comes out to just over $41,000Cdn which is about what I would be making if I had stayed in my old job. I am making way less in this contract position though.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    When I did the test, not even converting it came out very close to the amount that I started this job at 4 years ago. Since then I have ahd nearly 15% in wage adjustments and raises.

    If I converted it to CDN dollars I would be rolling in the dough at nearly $60 000.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  6. #6

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    Good Luck!

    The West Coast states are awash in red ink. California has a 36 BILLION dollar shortfall this year-and much of it will be made up on the backs of local governments. Oregon and Washington, are also suffering.

    The calculation mechanisms mentioned by previous posters are fine. I am not sure what level of your career you are at, if you are the sole support of a family, etc. But, in the central Bay Area, if you are not earning at least $75K (that's with a willingness to commute) at the Senior or even Associate Planner level, you need to look elsewhere.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    Re: west coast planners!!!! need salary help

    Originally posted by Grassroots
    i will be coming back home to the states in about two months and plan on moving to the west coast with my new fiance. i am from the east (NC), but plan on searching for jobs in california, oregon, and washington state. can somebody tell me what an acceptable salary is? i am primarily looking at middle (sacromento area) to northern california. private and public sector...doesn't matter. i will be looking for an associate level position befitting someone with an MA and a little over 4 years experience counting internships; 3 years solid work experience with 2 being planning overseas. according to APA, i should be asking for about 48K/year. is this accurate? any help would be great.
    To be realistic... you may not be able to get a job as an Associate Planner in California, despite your MA and 4 years experience. Unless you have specific planning experience in California for a few years (usually in a municipality), it's hard to come in from other places sometimes and get a higher position. I know people that have over 10 years experience that couldn't get into Senior positions, so they end up competing for Associates. Start brushing up on CEQA, the subdivision map act, and the planning statutes early because competition can be fierce. It is common for agencies in CA to quiz you on California Planning Law as part of the interview (common question: how many elements are required in a City's General Plan and what are they?) You can find some help at http://ceres.ca.gov/. For a salary guess, the City of Stockton (which is comparable in salaries to the City of Sacramento), lists their current Assistant and Associate Planner positions from City of Stockton $38,952 - $60,780 annually. With a few years of experience, you could probably get into the mid 40s I would guess.

    Washington and Oregon are not as difficult to get into, but still pretty competitive. (Brush up on GMA/SEPA legislation in WA).

  8. #8
          Downtown's avatar
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    Not even close. but my real number was *much* better.

    woohoo

    *cracks open can of caviar*

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Plus PlannerGirl's avatar
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    Sheesh thats a joke right? i make waymore than they say i should be worth. I make way more here in NoVa though the numbers were right on for NC. Funny thing is i did much more complex work in NC.
    "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
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I'll echo just about everything that the others have said. If I plug in the information for my midwest location, I am overpaid by about $15-20,000. The California information is correct as well. I have solid credentials, including education, certifications and experience, but seem to get nowhere with California agencies.

  11. #11
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Off-topic:
    Are there other states/provinces where it's nearly impossible for a planner from outside that state/province to get a job inside that state/province, because of unusual state planning laws or other restrictions?

  12. #12
    maudit anglais
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    I think the fact that I work for a city of 2.5 million really threw off my projected $$ (added 25K/year). According to the APA, I should be making 55K/year in USD. I'm making slightly more than that in $CDN, which I think is about right for me. Hell, when I started in the field 5 years ago, I made half of what I make now...I don't think I've done too badly.

    To answer Dan's OT question - I think it'd be hard to get into Quebec. Notwithstanding the language barrier, their planning process is a fair bit different from what I hear.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    I'll second TP on the PQ thing. Most of the planners that come here from there see things very different due to "civil law" vs common law.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  14. #14
    Cyburbian jmf's avatar
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    Still off-topic

    Donk may disagree but I think getting a first job in the Maritimes is hard. There are only so many municipal units and not really a lot of activity or change. Here if/when someone leaves a job there is a domino effect as everybody shuffles up/across/down the ladder depending on their desires for $$; location and job description.

    Now, having said that, once you have a job here it is easier to get another job due to the shuffle and because everybody knows everybody else and what they have worked on etc.

    Even more off-topic how many (and who) are usually in on a job interview in your area?

    My first job was a phone call with the Town Clerk and a second with the Town Manager.

    My second was the Director and the other planner.

    I had one which was for a teaching position which had 8-10 people including students.

    My current job is with a joint planning office so there was the Director, the 2 CAOs and the 2 chairs of the Planning Adivisory Committees.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Right now in NB is a good time to be a planner I can think of 3 or 4 mid / senior level jobs that are open. 1 director's jobs and a few entry level jobs. Only problem is the places that they are in have issues.

    Moving here was the best career decision I ever made, I have not been unemployed, except when I want to be for more then 2 months in the last 7 years. Only problem is that it is not teh best personal one I could have made.

    I will second JMF's comment on teh shuffle and everyone knowing everyone else.

    Way off topic, JMF are you going to the CAPS /API nights this weekend in Halifax? Personal message me and I'll email you details.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Originally posted by jmf
    Even more off-topic how many (and who) are usually in on a job interview in your area?
    For my current job I interviewed with:

    1. city manager

    2. public works director, assistant public works director/city engineer, and zoning/code enforcement director

    3. one set of 4-5 board members and council members

    4. second set of board members and council members (lunch)

    A total of about 12.

  17. #17
    Gunfighter Mastiff's avatar
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    The good thing is... I like small towns. It's easier to get a job for me, since I have a diverse background. I can hardly imagine doing JUST planning.
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  18. #18
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Originally posted by jmf
    Still off-topic
    Even more off-topic how many (and who) are usually in on a job interview in your area?
    I interviewed with the Mayor, President of the Common Council, Finance Director, and the Town-Next-Door's Planning Director.

    It was actually really fun, obviously we clicked....

  19. #19
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    they're on crack

    APA is on crack, the salary calc is crap.

    i should be making over 20k less than I will be at my new position.

    I want to meet the person who can make 25k per year work in the NW suburbs of Chicago.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Re: they're on crack

    Originally posted by boiker
    I want to meet the person who can make 25k per year work in the NW suburbs of Chicago.
    Oh, sure, if you don't mind living in the worts parts of Waukegan or Rockford, and commuting an hour and a half each way.

    They don't really think the salary is that low, do they? I wonder if the calculator is based on old (I mean very old) wage data.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian pandersen's avatar
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    Salary calculator

    Originally posted by jmf


    Totally off-topic but....Interesting.....

    I tried it and adjusted the amount for AICP to $1000 for CIP and came out with $27,027US which comes out to just over $41,000Cdn which is about what I would be making if I had stayed in my old job. I am making way less in this contract position though.
    I too ran the calculator. The only variable I was not able to account for was the "state" employed in as I work up here in Canada - I chose to use "0" in this case.

    After working out my suposed value in u.s. funds, I merely added 35% to get the Cdn equivalent. Turns out that I'm making 2-3k/yr less than the calculator says I worth. I can live with that.

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