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to AICP or not to AICP....

Should planners take the AICP?

  • YES, you need to take it

    Votes: 17 47.2%
  • No, it is a waste of time

    Votes: 6 16.7%
  • There is no AICP, it is a myth

    Votes: 6 16.7%
  • Other, (explain below)

    Votes: 7 19.4%

  • Total voters
    36

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
19,465
Points
44
OK I know that some place, (and I have just not looked) there is a thread on if the AICP is important or not. Being a young planner right out of school, I have been taught that the APA is the main group to go with, and the AICP is to planners what the Bar Exam is to a lawyer. What is your opinion of this, and what are the good points, and what are the bad points, and in all reality, how much creditability does it have?
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
michaelskis said:
I have been taught that the APA is the main group to go with, and the AICP is to planners what the Bar Exam is to a lawyer
Yes, this has been discussed before.

I would not give it that much credit. I think it depends on the work environment. My current employer places no stock in it; others in the area do. I've been eligible to sit for the test for 5 years now and just never get around to doing it, partly out of apathy.

Here are a few:

http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=5612&highlight=AICP

http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=1557&highlight=AICP
 
Messages
5,353
Points
31
It really depends on the employer; I'm in the private sector and my non-AICP'd planner boss could care less if I am or not. It didn't matter in my last civil service job either. If I were an employer looking to hire, I don't think I would place that much, if any, emphasis on it.

Until certification is mandatory for all planners and they must complete x amount of hours in continuing education credits each year, AICP will remain voluntary and, in many cases, insignificant.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,984
Points
29
Five days before I take the test is a hell of a time to get all self-reflective. :)
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Like the others, I'll say maybe. Many planning consultants require it, and especially so for senior positions. Fewer government agencies wnat to see it, with a good deal of variation in its importance across different states or regions. It can be used by many employers as a screening mechanism to narrow down the field of job candidates.

Like bturk, I have been eligible for some time, but have not taken the test. I missed the deadline for this year, but will likely plan to take it next year.
 

gkmo62u

Cyburbian
Messages
1,046
Points
24
For what its worth...My take.

I don't care if you have it behind your name or not. It doesn't make you a better facilatator, a better manger, a better analyst, a better writter or presenter or conservation designer. You get my point. There are plenty of good planners out there with it and plenty without. I have it, I was young and under the impression it would help my career. No way to know.

If your employer is paying for it why not? It 's not that hard a test and the pass/fail rate is pretty in favor of passing--though from reading this board in the last 2 years there has been some question of what exactly they are testing for and that the test has not been particularly fair.

I appreciate being an APA and AICP member, really. But do I see great value, no, not really, and at this point in my career I really don't need it.

If I ever get your resume, I won't toss it in the circular because you don't have it. I'd rather you just be abble to write clearly, present info well and know a little but about everything in the building and design process--from both sides.

My2cents.

And if the APA/AICP ever goes to mandatory continuing ed, well, you can guess at that point where I will save my employer a couple of hundred a year...
 

NHPlanner

Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,889
Points
38
It depends where you are in the country. It's very valued, and becoming a requirement of many jobs in the Northeast/New England. I personally had planned on, and took/passed, the exam as soon as I was eligible....but then my university prides itself on having a 100% pass rate of its graduates.....
 

Mud Princess

Cyburbian
Messages
4,896
Points
27
IMHO, it really depends on the type of planning work you do. It's certainly not required for most economic development type work. And it doesn't seem to make much of a difference in areas where you're lucky to find someone with a master's, let alone AICP...
 

OhioPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
304
Points
11
I think that having the AICP is an important credential. While I know the exam doesn't say yes you are a good planner, but it is a minimum qualification.

In my mind if you aren't willing to put in the time to get the certification, then how committed are you to the profession.

I know this seems harsh, but most other professions architects, engineers, accountants all require certification. Why shouldn't we?
 

Friend of Flavel

Cyburbian
Messages
30
Points
2
Who's taking the test?

Re: AICP exam
Is anyone taking the test Saturday? Are you freaking out? Any last words of advice from those who took the AICP exam last year? I know this was discussed ad nauseum last year, but it would be great to hear from some folks & commiserate.
T'anks den!
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,550
Points
25
When you read the prep. questions and take the test, you will realize that 75 percent of the stuff on there is not relevant to what you do. They don't test you on rel life situations, so you really need to take the test as if you were planning in a vacuum. The APA seems to have this idea that everone follows their code of ethics to the letter. There are some situations that arise in every community where you have to drop some of your good intentions and let the politicans make the decision. For example, if a homeless shelter wanted to locate in the City where I work, I could stand here and advocate for it and argue its merits until I am blue in the face, but what it really comes down to is the Mayor and Common Council (ie: those that have to face the public) are not going to support it for fear of not being re-elected or recalled. It is situations like this where you have to make the recommendations that are best for the community and often times these are not the same recommendations that are best for society as a whole.

The best advice I can give is to think about each question and answer it as if you were a generic planner. There will be questions where you will think "Well in our community we do it this way so "A" must be the right answer." While A may be correct to you, the AICP folks may have a different take on things. One question on a practice exam and the real one was about how things get to the Board of Appeals and the AICP answer was not the way it works in Wisconsin. So you have to think like the APA.
 

solarstar

Cyburbian
Messages
207
Points
9
AICP

Never thought I'd commiserate with a Redwings fan...

I have had it drilled into me that AICP was very valuable, especially since my degree is not in planning. But my recent job search showed that it doesn't seem to mean anything in the area that I am moving to. I've tried to explain what it means to employers, but realized quickly that no one seemed to care. I'd check out where you plan to work and see if it's a common thing - if not, why waste your time?!? Wish I had great insight into the exam since I just wrote it last year, but all I can say is that it seemed a far cry from what I expected. Good luck!
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
19,465
Points
44
Re: AICP

solarstar said:
Never thought I'd commiserate with a Redwings fan...

I've tried to explain what it means to employers, but realized quickly that no one seemed to care.
Our community development director have been taking some classes that are intended for planning commission or zoning boards. The first class what the first time that he saw the AICP after someones name. He asked me and I just about fell out of my chair. He means nothing to him, much of anything to anyone in the office, but I agree that it has been drilled into my head from my advisor in college. Some day, I would like to get into the private sector. I think it will maybe help me more then.
 

The Dutchman

Member
Messages
10
Points
1
I would hope you pursue it. Beyond the inherent value of acquiring and demonstrating a broad base of planning knowledge, it says you care enough about your profession to take the extra effort in being certified. I am puzzled as to why so many seem to care so little about certification. It isn't just about "will it help me get a job?" I see it as setting a high standard as that traditionally set for doctors, lawyers, ministers, etc. It distresses me to see so many call themselves "planners" when their basic training is in architecture, engineering, surveying, etc. That doesn't mean they can't plan something, but without the broad body of knowledge and expertise that planning is (a renaissance thing here) should they really be calling themselves planners? You can bet that architects and surveyors and engineers would scream if traditional planners started calling themselves architects and engineers and surveyors. Why can't we set the same standards??
 

ecofem

Cyburbian
Messages
206
Points
9
I've taken the both a State Bar Exam and now the AICP exam.

I think the AICP will mean more once the exam is less subjective and more closely related to the planning practice.

I'm not saying the AICP is a worthless certification... BUT... it needs to be retooled (in my opinion).
 

Jeff

Cyburbian
Messages
4,161
Points
27
townplanner said:
I would hope you pursue it. Beyond the inherent value of acquiring and demonstrating a broad base of planning knowledge, it says you care enough about your profession to take the extra effort in being certified. I am puzzled as to why so many seem to care so little about certification. It isn't just about "will it help me get a job?" I see it as setting a high standard as that traditionally set for doctors, lawyers, ministers, etc. It distresses me to see so many call themselves "planners" when their basic training is in architecture, engineering, surveying, etc. That doesn't mean they can't plan something, but without the broad body of knowledge and expertise that planning is (a renaissance thing here) should they really be calling themselves planners? You can bet that architects and surveyors and engineers would scream if traditional planners started calling themselves architects and engineers and surveyors. Why can't we set the same standards??

Yeah but isn't it funny how most of us here all went to school for planning, yet that test reflects nothing that was taught in schools or is being practiced by professional planners.

To be perfectly honest with you, I have a better chance of passing the PE right now (based on professional experience) than I do the AICP.

....and please define broad body of knowledge. Because there is nothing more annoying than someone who knows a little bit about several things, but can't define what their "specialty" is.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
townplanner said:
It distresses me to see so many call themselves "planners" when their basic training is in architecture, engineering, surveying, etc. That doesn't mean they can't plan something, but without the broad body of knowledge and expertise that planning is (a renaissance thing here) should they really be calling themselves planners?
OK, I'll jump on this one. My degree falls into that "related field" category. My employer chose the title for the position. Then, they chose me because I was the most qualified. It is true there are planning positions I would not apply for due to my specific skill sets, but I at least acknowledge that. And IMHO there are highly qualified planners that can't rise to managment levels in the field due to the pigeon holeing of their skill sets, or worse - their education in 'Planning' did not teach them to budget, address personnel issues, or perform customer service.

We've had prior threads where 'planning' as a rigid profession is debunked into 'planning' as a facilitation process. I agree that this field has areas where certain knowledge bases help you more - land use law for example.

Another example - Running a CDBG program is not planning, Its a program to facilitate, but planners end up doing the work most of the time. Anyone willing to pick up a HUD manual and a Federal Register can run the program. You may need CDBG knowledge to answer a few AICP test questions and demonstrate your so-called broad base of knowledge, but you certainly don't need it to be AICP to run the program. Heck, I've seen housing authority secretaries run block grant and Section 8 voucher programs better than some degreed individuals.

townplanner said:
You can bet that architects and surveyors and engineers would scream if traditional planners started calling themselves architects and engineers and surveyors. Why can't we set the same standards??
Because they need to demonstrate math skills beyond calculating slopes and floor area ratios. ;)
 

pete-rock

Cyburbian
Messages
1,551
Points
24
ecofem said:
I've taken the both a State Bar Exam and now the AICP exam.

I think the AICP will mean more once the exam is less subjective and more closely related to the planning practice.
The problem is, whose planning practice?

I just took the AICP exam Saturday, and it was all over the map. I feel I did well, but the test writers seemed to want to put something on the test for everyone that can call themselves a planner. And who are they?

Architects, landscape architects, engineers, environmentalists, developers, economic development officials, community development officials, zoning specialists, land use lawyers, development policy advisors, etc., etc., etc. -- anyone in a field that can lay claim to doing something with the built environment.

Too many other professions can claim part of what planners do, and that dilutes "planning" -- however defined -- altogether.

I took the AICP because passing it is a professional accomplishment -- nothing more, nothing less. If it means I stand out (in a good way) among other planners because of it, good. And it's a good move for those who have chosen the field. But it was never critical for what I do.

I chose planning as a field of study and a career because I grew up in a distressed city, and I felt 1) better policies and 2) better designs made for better cities. I wonder now if an undergraduate design degree and a graduate public policy degree or MBA would've served me better.
 

Budgie

Cyburbian
Messages
5,270
Points
30
My 2 cents

I took it 6 years ago and passed on the first time. I thought the test was not difficult and have found advantages to having passed. Employers recognize AICP as a mark of competence (notice I didn't say excellence) in the planning field, at least at the point of time when the test was taken. APA conducted a survey and found that AICP planners have greater earning power in the planning field. Some positions have "AICP Preferred". Some state Planning grant programs maintain a list of "Certified Planners" who are eligible to work on projects funded by CDBG funds. I don't know why someone who was eligible wouldn't take it. It's not a crime not to pass.

Planning should be a diverse field and not pigeon holed. I think a planner should have a broad knowledge base. How else can we competently explore broad issues. Is someone who reviews plats all day a "planner" or a "technician"?
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,550
Points
25
Anybody who has worked in a career that involves planning such as an engineer, a laywer, or an architect could study for and pass the AICP exam. On the other hand, I would guess that no amount of studying would adequatly prepare a planner to take the bar exam. Also, the ramifications of decisions made by planners is not as important as lawyers, engineers or architects.

You don't need a background in planning to call yourself a planner. We have a Planning Assistant who has never had a planning course in his life, but after being here for a while, I would feel comfortable calling him a planner. He may not have the academic background that I have, but he can perfom the same tasks as someone with an AICP after their name. The same is not the case with architects and lawyers.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,984
Points
29
Budgie,
Do they give you a cool bumper sticker or a free mug if you pass? BTW - is there a place to put a bumper sticker on a SHT?
 

Budgie

Cyburbian
Messages
5,270
Points
30
After I passed I got a cute little AICP pin and a bland certificate with Frank So's autograph. Yipee !!!!! No offense to Frank if he's out there.

Why don't you pay me a visit and find out? I haven't made any road kill yet.

Repo Man said:
We have a Planning Assistant who has never had a planning course in his life, but after being here for a while, I would feel comfortable calling him a planner. He may not have the academic background that I have, but he can perfom the same tasks as someone with an AICP after their name. The same is not the case with architects and lawyers.
After 10 years in the field, he can take the exam, I believe. Isn't it Masters + 3 years; Bachelors + 5 years; or 10 years. The years include employment in the planning or closely related field. Am I wrong?
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
Budgie said:
After 10 years in the field, he can take the exam, I believe. Isn't it Masters + 3 years; Bachelors + 5 years; or 10 years. The years include employment in the planning or closely related field. Am I wrong?
Here's theeligibility requirements
 

Budgie

Cyburbian
Messages
5,270
Points
30
Criteria

When did they change the criteria? Or was I in left field. Come to think about it. Who cares?
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Re: Re: AICP

michaelskis said:
...the first time that he saw the AICP after someones name. He asked me and I just about fell out of my chair.
My state economic development organization just sent out a survey to the membership. One of the questions was whether obtaining the CED cetrtification was important. The CED ceased to exist two years ago, as did the Ec.D., when the American Economic Development Council and the Council for Urban Economic Development combined and created the new CEcD certification. Prior to that there were only two CED's and one Ec.D. (me) in Wisconsin. (All three of us switched over to the new designation, although we had the option to continue using the one we had earned.)

One of two things is going on here:
1. Somebody living in the past, does not keep current with changes in the profession, and should retire already.
2. Some of the later CEcD recipients have an ego problem and think that CED sounds better because it has been around longer, and even though they never held a CED certification, want to use the initials.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
Re: Re: Re: AICP

Michael Stumpf said:
The CED ceased to exist two years ago, as did the Ec.D.
I laughed at that when I took the survey too. I have the EDFP but heck I knew the story with the others. What were the survey folks really trying to do? I think they just blew it.
 

troy

Member
Messages
68
Points
4
take the test if you are able.

I took the AICP a few years ago, and having done some minor amount of studying for it, was able to pass with relative ease.

It may not be required for jobs. It may never be what gets me into a new or better position.

However, if state certification of planners becomes a requirement sometime in the future (as was being discussed in Texas a few years ago), than such certification will likely be based on AICP (unless the state board of Realtors gets their way and forces all of us to get Real Estate licenses).

I figure, if such a requirement is mandated in the future, I might already be covered and not have to worry about taking a test on a bunch of things I learned in school twenty years after my last class. .
 

old man

Member
Messages
11
Points
1
AICP or not

I agree that AICP may not be as relevant as it could be. I also believe that it does show a level of competency and could make a long term difference in job searches. I have looked at resumes, hired, and fired for over 20+ years. Many times I get a large stack of resumes and have maybe 5-10 minutes per resume to review. I am always looking for something to distinguish one canditate as being possible and deserving of more careful scrutiny. AICP certification, education, length of job tenure, and overall experience are my main ppints to review. I have hired other professionals (architects, landscape professionals, urban designers, and others) and try to look at what their certifications are.
 

Wulf9

Member
Messages
923
Points
22
Yes if you are young. No if you are old. I'm not going to define "young" or "old."
 

tsc

Cyburbian
Messages
1,905
Points
23
It really depends where you are.... in my area... I really needed the AICP .. it is a requirement for the better jobs.. but I used to work in central ny... and it really didnt matter.

I just read a years worth of Planning mags.. and the test was not too difficult. I took it about 4-5 years ago.
 

dmvallie

Cyburbian
Messages
22
Points
2
well...

would you rather not take it and find you need it
or
take it and decide later that you really did not need it
(it's only a few hours for the test and maybe a little prep work)
 
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