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TheBostonian

Urban Planning Careers

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(Moderators: feel free to move this if it should be in a different forum)

I'm curious to hear from people familiar with what it takes to have a career in urban planning. Perhaps there are some current and future urban planners here on UP. A good resource I've found is this link from the US Department of Labor:

http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos057.htm

Here's an example of the required academic work in an urban planning MA program (Tufts University):

http://ase.tufts.edu/uep/academics/index.htm

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If I could do it all over, I'd definitely be interested in Urban Planning. That being said, I think it's a bit late for me....

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Once I'm outta high school, I'm planning to get a degree in Urban Planning from the University of Alabama. So, wew hew!!

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If I could do it all over, I'd definitely be interested in Urban Planning. That being said, I think it's a bit late for me....

It would be interesting - it's fascinating but the pay, I think, would be marginal and nobody would ever listen to what you advised them to do.

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I graduated from SUNY Albany with a bachelors in Urban Planning. They have a pretty good program that touches on most aspects though not as detailed as a masters program obviously. It was pretty easy to find a job afterward too, especially with a public agency.

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If I could do it all over, I'd definitely be interested in Urban Planning. That being said, I think it's a bit late for me....

It's never too late. In my master program at Rutgers there was a 70-something year-old student who signed all of his emails "-The Oldest Kid in the Class"

I went directly in after finishing college (I realized a B.A. in history wasn't going to get me far). Entering the program at age 21 I was the youngest kid in the class.

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It's never too late. In my master program at Rutgers there was a 70-something year-old student who signed all of his emails "-The Oldest Kid in the Class"

I went directly in after finishing college (I realized a B.A. in history wasn't going to get me far). Entering the program at age 21 I was the youngest kid in the class.

Ha, yes, it is. I'm 35 years old, with a decent paying job, and a baby on the way. I'm going to go to school, possibly somewhere else in the country, and subject my family to all sorts of nonsense and upheaval? Not gonna happen, brother....

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It would be interesting - it's fascinating but the pay, I think, would be marginal and nobody would ever listen to what you advised them to do.

I have to disagree. If you work for a consulting firm, then they (the decision-makers) usually do listen to you because that is what they are paying you for. And besides, as a planner, you are the one reviewing the development plans, and if you like or dislike what you see then that are taken into consideration.

You dont have to get a masters degree to be a planner, either. You can start out as support staff in a planning department and work your way up. That's what I'm doing, and I've only been out of college for a ccouple years. Experience is a million times better than a degree any day.

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I have been a practicing planner for about 15 years now and have worked in both the public and private sectors. I currently work in the private sector (consulting) and would be very hard pressed to ever go back to the public sector. Right now my salary is probably in the higher tiers and I get to decide what type of work I do and get to (for the most part) chose my clients. Success is certainly a matter of knowledge and education but it also greatly depends on personality, suitability for the job, and an ability to effectively communicate ideas.

So far I have had a great career and hope for many more good years.

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Does this look like a reasonable program from which one could launch a career? Or would a graduate be at a disadvantage because it is part of BU's adult extension school?

http://www.bu.edu/met/adult_college_progra...quirements.html

The program looks reasonable in terms of the number of credits and the core courses required. The core design seems pretty decent. The only problem with it is that it's not included in the Planning Accreditation Board's list of accredited planning programs. I think going through this program would help launch a career in that you'd be able to get into some public sector jobs with this degree and then begin acquiring some work experience. I don't know that it would get you too far in the consulting world, though, unless you develop a specialized skill that firms will desire, or unless you acquire work experience while working on this degree (or afterward).

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How competitive are admissions into accredited urban planning graduate programs? Does someone with a 3.0 gpa from a state university have a chance? What could such a student do to improve his prospects?

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How competitive are admissions into accredited urban planning graduate programs? Does someone with a 3.0 gpa from a state university have a chance? What could such a student do to improve his prospects?

I'm not a planner per-se, but an engineer with focus in transportation planning, and that was my focus in my grad program. But, my suggestion is, that practical experience and education is essential. Since I'm not a "planner", I don't know this but I assume planners can find internships with no problem (maybe I'm mistaken?). I would suggest that to anybody who is serious about any profession.

I have to disagree. If you work for a consulting firm, then they (the decision-makers) usually do listen to you because that is what they are paying you for. And besides, as a planner, you are the one reviewing the development plans, and if you like or dislike what you see then that are taken into consideration.

You dont have to get a masters degree to be a planner, either. You can start out as support staff in a planning department and work your way up. That's what I'm doing, and I've only been out of college for a ccouple years. Experience is a million times better than a degree any day.

Bingo about experience.

Not to be negative, but in my experience with a government agency it seems to me having a planning degree alone will limit one's chances to be promoted to the highest echelons, at least in transportation and transportation planning angencies/departments. Planners are essential for providing input, advice, etc., but ultimately decisions are made by others. If the others (boss, administation, council, committee, politicians, etc) don't like a planners input, then it can be ignored. Even if the planners know what he/she is doing, that still doesn't mean others will listen to reason and good judgement. If so, I would think the current problems associated with poor planning (or lack thereof, like sprawl, environmental problems, social problems, etc) in the US would be MUCH less. If urban planners had more say in decisions, then I would like to think we wouldn't have as many problems in urban areas that we currently do.

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Not to be negative, but in my experience with a government agency it seems to me having a planning degree alone will limit one's chances to be promoted to the highest echelons, at least in transportation and transportation planning angencies/departments. Planners are essential for providing input, advice, etc., but ultimately decisions are made by others. If the others (boss, administation, council, committee, politicians, etc) don't like a planners input, then it can be ignored. Even if the planners know what he/she is doing, that still doesn't mean others will listen to reason and good judgement. If so, I would think the current problems associated with poor planning (or lack thereof, like sprawl, environmental problems, social problems, etc) in the US would be MUCH less. If urban planners had more say in decisions, then I would like to think we wouldn't have as many problems in urban areas that we currently do.

Isn't that true! Don't forget the engineers dislike the planners' input too sometimes and try to do planning themselves with often disastrous results. And at the same time, planners try to make decisions with little or no engineering judgement. If only there were an engineering/planning degree or a basic engineering class for planners (and vice-versa).

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Ha, yes, it is. I'm 35 years old, with a decent paying job, and a baby on the way. I'm going to go to school, possibly somewhere else in the country, and subject my family to all sorts of nonsense and upheaval? Not gonna happen, brother....

Agreed. For some people it may not be too late, but for others it is. It all depends on what you've got going on. I'm 26, have a full-time, decent-paying job, and don't have time or extra money for school. Not to mention the nearest decent school for urban planning is in Dallas. Not gonna happen!

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If only there were an engineering/planning degree or a basic engineering class for planners (and vice-versa).

A transportation engineering class was required for my transportation planning certificate. While I probably should be glad I had that experience, the painful memories are too fresh. I've only recently begun sleeping normally again!

But I think the difficult thing about planning is that planners have to be engineers, urban designers, developers, economists, politicians, salespeople, market researchers, social workers, real estate agents, GIS specialists, and at the firm I work for--softball players!

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Isn't that true! Don't forget the engineers dislike the planners' input too sometimes and try to do planning themselves with often disastrous results. And at the same time, planners try to make decisions with little or no engineering judgement. If only there were an engineering/planning degree or a basic engineering class for planners (and vice-versa).

I agree... I'm not sure what a practical solution might be. Perhaps a planning course should be made mandatory for getting an engineering degree. To bad there's no professional prerequisite for becoming a politician, otherwise they could use planning experience and education :) Fortunately for me, I work with tremendously talented planners, so I try to glean as much knowledge and experience from them.

But I think the difficult thing about planning is that planners have to be engineers, urban designers, developers, economists, politicians, salespeople, market researchers, social workers, real estate agents, GIS specialists, and at the firm I work for--softball players!

That's half the fun-- being able to cross over into all sorts of other things. I personally enjoy that.

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Honestly, that is why I did what I did. I was originally a civil engineering (transportation planning focus) major with a minor in Political Science for the first 3 years of college. Now, I am an Transportation Planning major still with a PSC minor, and I'm pretty will rounded. I know all sides of the field in engineering, planning, and the politics involved.

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If I could do it all over, I'd definitely be interested in Urban Planning. That being said, I think it's a bit late for me....

No doubt. If I could go back to when I was trying to pick a major, I would have gone into my alma mater's urban studies concentration (instead of getting a degree in English).

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I'm currently and engineering major but may transfer and change my major to urban planning because I feel like it will be a better match for me. I 99% that you have to get a BA before getting a MA. But, when looking over the Planning Accredidation Board Accredited University Planning Programs, there was a significant amount more Masters Progams than Bachelors. That seems backwards to me. I was looking at the program at UNC-G, but it turns out that they're not accredited according to the handout I printed. Could someone help me out with this search for a good school with a decent price and near the east coast (ie NC)?

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I have always wondered what would be a great undergrad major to launch a graduate career in urban design or real estate development. I, in a way, fell into my current path of being a Civil Engineering major, I just wonder if that will even be a factor towards a succesfull graduate career in design/development as I havent seen those programs undergrad anywhere (unless College of Charleston's is undergrad)..

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