Is AICP worth the cost?

mercdude

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#1
Here's what I'd like to know: if you had to pay for the exam fees, annual membership dues, etc., would you still be AICP?
 
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#2
That's the wrong question, in my opinion. Does AICP fit in with your career goals, and will it be valued by your current and future employer?

(And to long-time Cyburbians, I'm trying very hard to leave my well known and unpopular opinion about AICP out of this.)
 

glutton

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#3
Do you anticipate changing jobs or positions in the next two years (particularly if that entails a move across the country)? Then it might be helpful in your job search. If not, then it might not be worth the money right now.
 
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#4
I have some views about AICP that are certianly not positive. That being said, AICP is the only credentialed program for planners. (I know there are speciality things with economic developement etc, but for a regular "jack of all trades" planner this is it). If you're early in your career or if you have aspirations of management and directorship at some point I think it is a worthwhile investment in your career. I've always said that AICP allows you to knock on some doors that otherwise you would not be able to.
 

mercdude

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#5
Right now I'm a senior planner at the state level with about 5 years of experience and a couple graduate degrees behind me. My employer does not formally value the AICP, but some individual planners and departments do. So there's some rub/opportunity there. Personally, I come from a LA background, so I do not have warm feelings for APA and its undervaluing allied professions. BUT, I do like license/certifications as a way to demonstrate my SKA (skills, knowledge, abilities). I do not anticipate leaving my employer in the next year or two, but it's always on my mind to either hop to the federal or local level - the AICP could help with that since the economic downturn left the LA industry high and dry.

However, I would be left paying the almost $1000 out of pocket and then the annual fees on top of that + continuing education credits. When you start adding it up, that's a lot of coin for an elective certificate that, quite frankly, is not institutionally important for my current or foreseeable success. So the question remains because I really would like to add AICP behind my name but I'm very sensitive to unnecessary professional expenses. So put another way - if you (personally) had to pay all the fees for the AICP, is the ROI acceptable?
 
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#6
That's one the AICP fallacies that irks me the most: it helps with the job hunt. In my opinion, experience trumps AICP any day of the week. If an employer values AICP, they'll pay for their employees to obtain AND maintain it. The folks that pay for AICP out of pocket usually end up disgruntled because it does not open up the opportunities that thought it would.

Lastly, if you're not in local government doing current or long range planning, it's unlikely to be of much value.

Well, I tried.
 
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#7
Lastly, if you're not in local government doing current or long range planning, it's unlikely to be of much value.
I disagree. If you want to consult and advance beyond an entry-level position, AICP is a very valuable. Planning firms bill out AICP planners at a higher rate than non-AICP. This alone makes the credential valuable.

That said, my current (public sector) employer has a history of de-emphasizing the importance of AICP, and many of the higher-level staff with tenure are not AICP. However, this is changing ever-so slowly. IMO, and this is only an opinion, but I think many planners dislike sitting around a table with AIA, PEs, ASLAs, and JDs without something of their own. I find credentialism of any kind to be lame, but in a small, competitive industry, it's a real thing.

AICP and a high level of skill in this profession don't necessarily correlate. What it does indicate, however, is the willingness to keep learning new material to help avoid falling into the type of siloed niches for which civil servants are notorious.
 

luckless pedestrian

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#8
For me, it's valuable because I don't have my Master's degree- in the 80's when I started working, there was plenty of work to be had so I didn't go to grad school and just started working but the profession has changed such that a master's degree is necessary - so for me, it adds some credibility to my 30 years in the profession - also, for me, my undergraduate degree was in environmental studies with a double minor in economics and law, so again, it adds credibility where my degree might be missing

There are problems assuredly with the system - but I think having a national certification works and it works best of we as planners take it more seriously
 

mercdude

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#9
^ Okay, so it's valuable to you. Would you (did you) pay $1000 out of pocket to take the exam, and would you (have you) paid the almost $500 annually out of pocket to maintain the certificate? My suspicion is that almost no one would pay that amount, and the people that have AICP (and see value in maintaining it) get at least some of the costs paid for by their employer. If my employer paid for me to have the AICP, there'd be no question in mind - I'd get the AICP. But having to pay for everything out of pocket makes me re-evaluate it's value.
 

luckless pedestrian

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#10
^ Okay, so it's valuable to you. Would you (did you) pay $1000 out of pocket to take the exam, and would you (have you) paid the almost $500 annually out of pocket to maintain the certificate? My suspicion is that almost no one would pay that amount, and the people that have AICP (and see value in maintaining it) get at least some of the costs paid for by your employer. If my employer paid for me to have the AICP, there'd be no question in mind - I'd get the AICP. But having to pay for everything out of pocket makes me re-evaluate it's value.
It's a fair question - I was able to negotiate all costs everywhere I have worked since getting the certification - the initial prep course and exam I outright firmly asked for it to be paid by my employer who did and then the following 3 jobs thereafter I negotiated it as part of my taking the position

I would not have taken those jobs if they didn't pay for it because yes, it's pricey and I don't know how I would have done it otherwise

If everyone negotiated it as part of the budget for their position or in their own firm's budget then it would become more of a standard practice
 

mercdude

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#11
^ I assume that means: no, you would not get / maintain AICP without employer contributions. Which is the scenario I'm in right now. And the more I think about it, the more I'm leaning towards no - the cost is just too high. I already have graduate school student loans that suck my blood, another credential that I have to pay for doesn't seem worthwhile.
 
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#13
If everyone negotiated it as part of the budget for their position or in their own firm's budget then it would become more of a standard practice
Not an option for all of us, sadly. Here, the municipality's union will pay for positions that have a licensure requirement directly linked to your ability to the job. i.e., a Land Use Attorney could probably get their state bar dues taken care of, and a civil engineer could get their P.E. test and ASCE dues paid for. For planners, we don't necessarily need AICP to do our jobs effectively. Therefore, we are on our own. When I was in the private sector, *all* of my APA-related costs were paid by my employer. It is a hard pill to swallow to shell out $550 in dues plus the costs to attain the necessary CM credits, but as I don't have a master's degree in planning, I'll never give mine up. I just wish APA/AICP did me for me from a professional standpoint aside from (supposedly) signaling that I'm competent to do my job.

"Emerging Professionals" do get a break from APA/AICP, I believe.
 

mercdude

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#14
the cost is dependent upon salary so you can get a break - also new members I think get a break?
Starting July they do, yes. But the deadline for Fall's AICP exam is June. Convenient, eh?

Not an option for all of us, sadly. Here, the municipality's union will pay for positions that have a licensure requirement directly linked to your ability to the job. i.e., a Land Use Attorney could probably get their state bar dues taken care of, and a civil engineer could get their P.E. test and ASCE dues paid for. For planners, we don't necessarily need AICP to do our jobs effectively. Therefore, we are on our own.
This is the same for my employer... and it sucks.
 
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#15
I disagree. If you want to consult and advance beyond an entry-level position, AICP is a very valuable. Planning firms bill out AICP planners at a higher rate than non-AICP. This alone makes the credential valuable.

That said, my current (public sector) employer has a history of de-emphasizing the importance of AICP, and many of the higher-level staff with tenure are not AICP. However, this is changing ever-so slowly. IMO, and this is only an opinion, but I think many planners dislike sitting around a table with AIA, PEs, ASLAs, and JDs without something of their own. I find credentialism of any kind to be lame, but in a small, competitive industry, it's a real thing.

AICP and a high level of skill in this profession don't necessarily correlate. What it does indicate, however, is the willingness to keep learning new material to help avoid falling into the type of siloed niches for which civil servants are notorious.
Yes and no. It's true that consultants bill out their AICP planners at a higher rate, and AICP makes planning contractors more attractive when responding to bids. But any firm worth their salt will pay and support AICP credentialing for their staff. Again, the folks paying out of pocket for AICP with hopes of a big promotion or transferring to a high-paying consulting gig are in for a big disappointment.

The annual cost of AICP along with time and expenses required for CE credits will be a big headache if an employer isn't supportive. There's no way a consultant is picking up someone on AICP alone. They're going to look at your experience and professional contacts if you had a high enough position in public sector. We present these false scenarios that if all things being equal, a planning firm will select an AICP over a non-AICP candidate, but in the real world things are never exactly equal. The applicants experience, attitude, and work ethic are going to be the deciding factor.

Ok, my two cents. (Which probably adds up to at least $90 bucks by now:p)

AICP and a high level of skill in this profession don't necessarily correlate. What it does indicate, however, is the willingness to keep learning new material to help avoid falling into the type of siloed niches for which civil servants are notorious.
Are you sure this isn't just a myth AICP-holders perpetuate so that they feel better about paying their dues to APA while receiving minimal in return? :p
 

The One

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#16
Blah Blah Blah

The main reason AICP isn't supported by public/private employers....drum roll please.....:8::8::8:........

because APA/AICP conduct ZERO outreach at ANY LEVEL on the importance of having a common foundation for planners, to begin with, including continued education during their careers!! They have not supported or pushed for State certification standards and they don't show up to support membership at ANY level. There is ZERO education about the level of education and experience needed to maintain certification.

No, don't tell me that's the member's responsibility.....BS! You try to convince the AICP less (many times disgruntled) director your AICP is worth more.

I've kept mine because my employer pays for it. No way I could justify paying $1,000+ a year out of pocket to keep it.
 
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#17
The main reason AICP isn't supported by public/private employers....drum roll please.....:8::8::8:........

because APA/AICP conduct ZERO outreach at ANY LEVEL on the importance of having a common foundation for planners, to begin with, including continued education during their careers!! They have not supported or pushed for State certification standards and they don't show up to support membership at ANY level. There is ZERO education about the level of education and experience needed to maintain certification.

No, don't tell me that's the member's responsibility.....BS! You try to convince the AICP less (many times disgruntled) director your AICP is worth more.

I've kept mine because my employer pays for it. No way I could justify paying $1,000+ a year out of pocket to keep it.
Well said. And entirely true. I've said similar things about planning in general and APA. They do NOTHING to elevate the professional profile of planners among the general public, let alone our employers. And honestly, it's not like APA really solicits member opinion on things like this. They should really have a town hall style meeting at the National Conference every year. But they won't.
 

dw914er

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#19
^ Okay, so it's valuable to you. Would you (did you) pay $1000 out of pocket to take the exam, and would you (have you) paid the almost $500 annually out of pocket to maintain the certificate? My suspicion is that almost no one would pay that amount, and the people that have AICP (and see value in maintaining it) get at least some of the costs paid for by their employer. If my employer paid for me to have the AICP, there'd be no question in mind - I'd get the AICP. But having to pay for everything out of pocket makes me re-evaluate it's value.
Based upon your posts, it sounds like you already had made up your mind...
 
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