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Working Freelance planning work


I have heard of people doing freelance planning work on the side. Does anybody have any experience with this? Maybe a parking study for a small downtown, or something of that scale?


Staff member
Freelance is what you find. I have seen some planners who retire, or have moved on from a private sector job do some freelance for either a previous community, or for a previous client. There is no reason you couldn't just respond to an RFP or RFQ for some project, but really most of those will be based on your experience.

Freelance work is not easy to get, and most RFP or RFQ responses are from private sector firms that do it for a living. They have more resources and more ability to meet all the demands of the request. The only advantage that a single person could likely provide is a lower cost to the community. Depending on what is being requested, this may or may not be enough to get someone to pick you.

I would suggest that joining the private sector first is key to having a future in freelance work, as it gives you the skills and marketability required to get the jobs, unless it is a one off project, or if you know someone who works in a community who needs help.

Good luck.

Whose Yur Planner

I've thought about doing it once I retire. I've also thought about being a part time PD, since by that time, I will had had 40+ years, the vast majority of that being a PD.


"We shall not, as salaried employees, undertake other employment in planning or a related profession, whether or not for pay, without having made full written disclosure to the employer who furnishes our salary and having received subsequent written permission to undertake additional employment, unless our employer has a written policy which expressly dispenses with a need to obtain such consent."

AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct Section B.4

This applies to both public and private sector AICP planners.

I do occasional freelance work (some drafting, marketing, graphics, etc.) but it is NOT related in any way to planning. Some clients have been oil and gas, engineering, medical, etc.

Regarding "full written disclosure" prior to starting any new full time planning job I email the soon-to-be employer asking if I can take on side work in planning under certain circumstances (no conflicts of interest, no sharing of confidential information, a different planning specialization, and even a different city). I also site Section B.4. Every employer (and they are all private sector) has had no problem with me doing side work and ask that I just use my best judgement. (In addition, I also note my experience as a former AICP Ethics Officer and emphasize that the highest degree of professional integrity will be maintained at all times)

Even though I have made full written disclosure and have satisfied Section B.4, by practice I rarely pursue "occasional" planning contract work. It's just too much overhead to win planning contracts for a few hours of work without having to prepare a RFP and interview for a contract (and it's not much money anyway). I occasionally receive random emails from LinkedIn asking for planning advice (and not from my connections either). As a business owner, I treat everything as a would-be job. I will offer a free initial phone consultation per planning issue, and we will agree to a time limit in advance. Anything above that is charged as a consultant rate for time and materials. 75% of the requests are very brief conversations of less than 20 minutes. It's just my thoughts on the issue with some general guidance and direction without giving anything of value away over the phone. No, it doesn't compete with my full time planning job but I want to be open to possibilities if and when they happen.

Hope this helps!
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