Are urban planner job opportunities growing or declining?

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Are jobs in this industry on the rise? Are there any sub-sectors that are growing?

Where are the jobs? Which places have the most urban planner opportunities?

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SQ in Gilroy, California

46 months ago

To be brutally honest with you, both of those degrees are basically a huge waste of time. If you want to be a bureaucratic paper pusher for the rest of your life, then maybe the MPA or MCP are for you. But you want to learn useful, critical skills that are and will be in demand when you graduate, go into a science based program like statistics, computer science, or engineering. I made the mistake of getting my masters in urban planning from a very reputable university and it hasn't gotten me anywhere.

Moreover, anyone with half a brain can do what people with planning degrees and MPA degrees do. It's a fallacy and a shame to think that you need an undergrad degree and a masters to do that kind of grunt work. Choose a science based program that you're interested. It'll be a heck of a lot more challenging but worth it in the long run. If you like planning, then you might be interested in transportation engineering for example. There are a few schools that have masters programs in transportation engineering in which you don't need a bachelors in the same field. Send me your email if you could like to discuss this some further.

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Babak in Vancouver, British Columbia

43 months ago

The planning market in Canada is not the best it could be, but jobs do come by.
I actually got a job offer a couple of months ago from a small town in AB, and had to turn it down due my thesis work not being finished yet, and the pay wasn't as good as I wanted.
It seems that a lot of people apply for jobs in the big cities, and not everyone can or wants to move to a small town in Canada with less than 10000 people living there.
If you can change your lifestyle for a few years and stick it with small town folks, then maybe you should apply for those positions instead of big cities like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.
I also feel that the planning professionals are pretty much all 'established' and not much diversity of ethnicity and cultures so far in my knowledge. I also think that my name does not help me get noticed by people who check my application, or maybe I'm being paranoid!

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shruti in New Delhi, India

43 months ago

Jason in Etobicoke, Ontario said: I absolutely do NOT recommend anybody to go into this profession right now. Entry level planning jobs are extremely hard to find in North America, at this particular time. Most jobs are with municipalities so the private sector is pretty much a no-go. Planning staff in many places are being cut down due to the economy so not much new hiring is going on, and many planners seem to not want to retire and stay in their jobs for decades.

From my experience there is a glut of boomers who occupy most of the senior and intermediate level planning jobs, and they have still yet to retire. Perhaps in 10 years this will change. But right now you have thousands of students across North American graduating with bachelor's and master's in urban planning that are finding absolutely no jobs out there. I have a master's in urban planning from a good university and 2 very solid internships yet I have not even received an interview in anything related to planning since I've graduated. Luckily I have some other skills in IT and computer programming that are earning me money. I regret ever having wasted my time and money on such a useless degree, in hindsight I would have been much better off in an environmental science/engineering related program or something to do with computer science.

hey: i am graduating in geography.. last year. and am keen to get into this field. so considering the current scenario, should i go ahead into this field.

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not joking in Gatineau, Quebec

42 months ago

Wow...lots of cynics. I'm a non-planner, but I actually like urban planning issues very much. I'm a regular participant of the Jane Jacobs Walk in Ottawa (Canada), and subscriber to Spacing Magazine.

As much as I like it, 8 years ago, I decided to do a Masters of Public Administration (MPA), did my dissertation on an urban policy related area, and somehow, landed a Federal Government Policy Analyst position 8 months before I even graduated.

At the time I felt on top of the world. Loved the program and landed what was suppose to be a "dream job" as a policy analyst in the highest level of Government.

Its been 6 years, and I am extremely bored. Its not that I don't have enough to do, I'm actually busier than ever. I worked in the private sector for 4 years before... despite public perception, my colleagues and I here work a lot harder than I ever did in the private sector (a tech firm and at a major Canadian bank).

What I'm complaining about is that the actual work is boring me. Federal government doesn't do anything I'm interested in. Its getting to the point where I'm not interested in doing what I do.

Since I already have a Masters, I wouldn't want to spent more than 1 year studying, therefore I'm thinking of applying to a one-year Urban Planning Masters degree in Australia. The program is recognized by the Planning Institute of Australia.

I'm thinking of doing this in a few years once my finances are in order. That is, I don't want to take out a loan, I wanna pay the tuition and cost of living in full.

However, based on the comments I've seen on this particular forum... you guys must think I'm crazy!

Am I being silly? Stupid? Or just plain crazy?

(In case your wondering, the Government Pension I get alone is no longer enough of an incentive for me to stay. Unless of course, they double my salary over night, which ain't gonna happen. Nearly all my friends in the Public Service are starting to feel this way).

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DB2 from Above in Jakarta, Indonesia

42 months ago

not joking, i think you are not being silly, but you need to consider what kind of planning you want to do-- I read the first part of your post and thought "wow, that pretty much is how I felt after awhile working for government." I have come to learn that I can feel that way about any job... so maybe it's me. But the things you describe about government apply to planning jobs in government too. I mean, you are not really in control of what kinds of projects you are reviewing or processing or writing reports about or presenting. A LOT of planners get disillusioned by this because you basically need to let go of your idealism. There's a thankless aspect to it, too. There are other options with planning of course.

Add to that the bleak economic picture and you might want to, I don't know, combine your degree with something more marketable.

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not joking in Montreal, Quebec

42 months ago

Its easier said than done, but I'm trying to establish, the source of my discontent. Part of it is the work. People are incredibly friendly, but there is a culture of complacency in improving work environment... Utilizing technologies. Maybe its the baby boomer syndrome.

Room for innovation is narrow in any public organizations, but cities in general appear to provide more room for this... Especially in the west coast, which leads me to another point, mobility.

the longer I'm in my department or the feds, the more I'm type casted into the policy I work in, which is federal issues. This means more,and more, I'm stuck in Ottawa, the capital.

City policy making and urban planning is more mobile. So I'm not stuck in one city, province or even country.

My interest is urban and regional transport planning. This includes sustainable city building, mixed use communities that promote walking, transit and cycling.

even tho I'm not in an urban planning type of work, I'm hoping I can use the policy and public sector management experience, as a competitive advantage over fresh MUP graduates.

The fact I understand the machinery of public organizations, government procurement etc... would put me in better position, at least in terms of government work.

How this translate into job market is difficult to measure.

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Bubba in Toronto, Ontario

42 months ago

sorry i'm rolling my eyes...
"Jane Jacobs Walk in Ottawa (Canada), and subscriber to Spacing Magazine". I think every man on the street now in Canada now want to a planner because of this.

Spacing magazine gets on my nerves. When did these douche bags some become planning authority/ planners. None of them probably dont even have a related planning degree

As someone earlier said about the planning area...anyone can do planning...well it seems spacing magazine thinks so

hey they are called city jobs!!!!. Did you look into them before you applied to the Federal government. Urban policy...city...sorta make sense.

I have a College Public Admin Diploma (city focus)...at the masters level it all becomes down to drawing up reports on policy!!...I was afraid of getting into Public Admin/ Urban Planning/ Urban studies/ because I didn't want to sit in a gray government cubicle writing essays. I have an undergrad in Communications/ Art. Its the same in local government, ...boomers that dont/ wont be leaving any time soon!!!

stupid probably ...about the the Australia planning Masters/degreee
I thought about Australia option...but Australia ...is another planet, when compared to Canada/US.

How does their credentials translate over here. I looked into doing it online. There like in England a university degree can be had is 3 measly years....in Ontario all you can get is a college Diploma with 3 years.

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Bubba in Toronto, Ontario

42 months ago

@not joking

In Canada and the United Stated...planning rarely concerns the Federal level. Especially in Canada all the Feds do is Provincial tranfers...transfer the money to the provinces. I'm guessing its similar with states too.

Planning is a local/region/issue with money and policies and guidelines and more like "interference" from provinces.

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not joking in Woodbridge, Ontario

42 months ago

Bubba in Toronto, Ontario said: sorry i'm rolling my eyes... I think every man on the street now in Canada now want to a planner because of this.

Thanks for the helpful advice *tongue in cheek

Bubba in Toronto, Ontario said: I have a College Public Admin Diploma (city focus)...at the masters level it all becomes down to drawing up reports on policy!!.

I'm rolling my eyes too. You mentioned that your Diploma gave you nothing but heartache, and that you can't find a job. I wish you the best of luck in finding a job.

Just offering you the same helpful advice you gave me. In what world, do you think a COMMUNITY COLLEGE DIPLOMA can compete with a MASTERS DEGREE? Their are like a stratosphere apart!

I'm sorry, but I gotta be honest with you, the fact you think the ONLY difference between a Diploma and a Masters of Public Admin is that we "draw up reports on policy" demonstrates the extent of your knowledge.

Having worked several years in the Federal Government, I'll tell you that a Masters degree is the minimum requirement for any entry level Policy Analyst position. Your diploma won't get you anywhere, cause your simply not qualified.

During my Masters, I had the opportunity to teach Public Admin Diploma students at Humber College. Let me tell you, the quality of the co-hort was poor. No way in hell will these kids EVER work in a Real Policy environment. They had no research skills, and many didn't even have the basic knowledge of Government machinery

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not joking in Woodbridge, Ontario

42 months ago

Bubba in Toronto, Ontario said: stupid probably ...about the the Australia planning Masters/degreee. How does their credentials translate over here

All Australian University planning programs that is recognized by the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) is automatically recognized for credentials by the Canadian Institute of PLanners (CIP).

CIP is the official credential recognition body in Canada. Guess I'm not stupid afterall, just a little crazy, eh Bubba ;)

Bubba in Toronto, Ontario said: In Canada and the United Stated...planning rarely concerns the Federal level.

You are correct to an extent. The Federal Government has jurisdiction over the Ottawa-Gatineau Region, because its a region that crosses Provincial lines.

So the Fed's have the same power over Ottawa as the Ontario Government has over Toronto. They have Policy and Urban Planning positions with the National Capital Commission, a Crown Corporation (runs like a private company, which might be good for me, given how jaded I am with the Government Bureaucracy)

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Zee in Brisbane, Australia

41 months ago

The general situation for Planning in Australia is actually ok. There are numerous jobs here with the mining industry booming and if you have experience in engineering you will find a job very easily. I have just finished my Urban and Regional Planning degree and have an offers already, especially in regional Queensland. Good luck!

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not joking in Toronto, Ontario

41 months ago

Thanks for the helpful comments zee, I underdogs that plenty of, jobs are available in Australia

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Bubba in Toronto, Ontario

41 months ago

@Joking You asked question I answered it!. Like degrees MAs in Canada/ U.S, blowing in the wind, seems you can pick em off the trees when ma and pa will pay the ridiculous fees.

Please stop rephrasing my ideas in to what you want them to be.
You conveniently left out the part where I said I already have a degree from years ago when a degree meant something. When I originally graduated it was hard to find a job it usually is for any arts related program. check out the history/ english graduates.

I said I did not want to work in a GRAY CUBICLE writing essays for the federal government. I never compared a College diploma with a Masters.DOWN BOY!!!...stay!

Im not like most of the young people funneling into Toronto escaping their "small white town/cities" (new planning term), I am from here, and In ontario we know there is a huge difference between a College Diploma and a MA so stop being bitchy.or head to Abercrombie/fitch and do some shopping to cool off.

I never compared my diploma to your high and mighty MA. I'm creative, I couldn't last a day in a grey federal cubicle. I'm over educated even by Canadian Standards

Usually at the MA level in Public Admin that's what it research reports and more reports. Did you work on any anything GIS, paper map maps, plan or anything visual at your job, did you map out areas, do charretts, probably not I'm guessing.

JK that you think education is everything, take that nose out of the air!, and start working on you PHd..Did you hear the one about the hight school graduates who is millionaire....many baby boomers...most of them dont have degrees!

I never trusted colleges because of exactly what you said...THEY EMPLOY PEOPLE LIKE YOU AS T.E.A.C.H..E.RS WITHOUT ENOUGH EXPERIENCE. U just got out of school, worked a few years and you are already teaching
...PS..they are suppose to have a degree before they can get in.
still roll my eyes every time the dudes from SPACING magazine show up on very effing panel

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Bubba in Toronto, Ontario

41 months ago

Just saying Australia is just not for me...its another world. I have my issues with Australia. If I wanted the Uk I would go there, not one in 3 days away trying to be a hybrid Canada/U.S. I wold probably like the nature, and the Aborigines. No need for Sidney, Just visit Toronto/Chicago then Boston or Halifax in a day or two...takes less time too

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not joking in Ottawa, Ontario

41 months ago

Bubba in Toronto, Ontario said: You conveniently left out the part where I said I already have a degree from years ago when a degree meant something. When I originally graduated it was hard to find a job it usually is for any arts related program. check out the history/ english graduates.

@ Bubba: I see you point regarding your undergrad… yet, considering the number of people holding a Masters degree or higher in Canada represents only 3% of all Canadians that hold a University degree, your making a HUGE assumption that a Masters isn’t worth as much as before.

So you have ONE anecdotal example of a MA holder that cant find a job. If we’re gonna go with one-off examples, I know retired people, that have MA’s that struggled in the 1960s to find a job, so what? And stop blaming your degree for your past failures. It’s embarrassing. If we’re gonna use anecdotal evidence here, I know plenty of successful English Majors that do well.

Bubba in Toronto, Ontario said: I’m not like most of the young people funneling into Toronto escaping their "small white town/cities" (new planning term), I am from here, and In ontario we know there is a huge difference between a College Diploma and a MA so stop being bitchy.or head to Abercrombie/fitch and do some shopping to cool off.

ANOTHER HUGE ASSUMPTION. 1) I’m not WHITE. Not an ounce of my DNA is white. My parents are from the Caribbean. I’m not gonna bother explaining my race to you, I owe you nothing. Just because I can put together an argument better than you, doesn’t make me a spoiled Suburban white boy.

2) I spent most my upbringing in Toronto. This ain’t New York, or Shanghai, or London we’re talking about. It’s a city were the majority of residents still own a car. It’s a City that has been largely immune from the most economic down-turn. Stop playing the victim card.

Bubba in Toronto, Ontario said: Usually at the MA level in Public Admin that's what it research

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not joking in Ottawa, Ontario

41 months ago

Bubba in Toronto, Ontario said: You conveniently left out the part where I said I already have a degree from years ago when a degree meant something. When I originally graduated it was hard to find a job it usually is for any arts related program. check out the history/ english graduates.

@ Bubba: I see you point regarding your undergrad… yet, considering the number of people holding a Masters degree or higher in Canada represents only 3% of all Canadians that hold a University degree, your making a HUGE assumption that a Masters isn’t worth as much as before.

So you have ONE anecdotal example of a MA holder that cant find a job. If we’re gonna go with one-off examples, I know retired people, that have MA’s that struggled in the 1960s to find a job, so what? And stop blaming your degree for your past failures. It’s embarrassing. If we’re gonna use anecdotal evidence here, I know plenty of successful English Majors that do well.

Bubba in Toronto, Ontario said: I’m not like most of the young people funneling into Toronto escaping their "small white town/cities" (new planning term), I am from here, and In ontario we know there is a huge difference between a College Diploma and a MA so stop being bitchy.or head to Abercrombie/fitch and do some shopping to cool off.

ANOTHER HUGE ASSUMPTION. 1) I’m not WHITE. Not an ounce of my DNA is white. My parents are from the Caribbean. I’m not gonna bother explaining my race to you, I owe you nothing. Just because I can put together an argument better than you, doesn’t make me a spoiled Suburban white boy.

2) I spent most my upbringing in Toronto. This ain’t New York, or Shanghai, or London we’re talking about. It’s a city were the majority of residents still own a car. It’s a City that has been largely immune from the most economic down-turn. Stop playing the victim card.

Bubba in Toronto, Ontario said: Usually at the MA level in Public Admin that's what it research

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not joking in Ottawa, Ontario

41 months ago

Bubba in Toronto, Ontario said: Usually at the MA level in Public Admin that's what it research reports and more reports.

An MA aint no glorified Undergrad. You cant just quote a few big name philosophers and be done with it. Its called Empirical research, as in primary research. Most MA’s, even HISTORY majors are comfortable with Statistical Analysis, something that’s important, even in the urban planning world. That’s the difference between an undergrad and an MA. Empirical research implies getting your arms dirty and going into the field, not sitting in an office “researching”. It also implies some degree of advanced statistical analysis.

Again, your beliefs, does not = reality.

Your dismissive tone implies somebody who would never make it at an MA level, even if they tried. I don’t know a single MA holder that does not value the experience they gained in the real world. Obviously, those that don’t make it, would be dismissive about it to justify their own failures in life.

Bubba in Toronto, Ontario said: Did you hear the one about the hight school graduates who is millionaire....many baby boomers...most of them dont have degrees!

Yes, I heard about Gates and Zuckerberg. University drop-outs that became one of the most successful minds of our generation. Yet, these individuals accomplished more than me or you can ever dream of. For the rest of us, Education is #1. When you launched the next Facebook or Microsoft, come back and tell me how little education is worth.

Bubba in Toronto, Ontario said: I never trusted colleges because of exactly what you said...THEY EMPLOY PEOPLE LIKE YOU AS T.E.A.C.H..E.RS WITHOUT ENOUGH EXPERIENCE.

I was a TA at a College affiliated with a University (Guelph-Humber), I never taught. A professor with 10 years of education and 17 years of experience did the teaching. I just did the grading, and led tutorials. In other words, I turned his jargon-laded lecture in

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not joking in Ottawa, Ontario

41 months ago

Bubba in Toronto, Ontario said: I never trusted colleges because of exactly what you said...THEY EMPLOY PEOPLE LIKE YOU AS T.E.A.C.H..E.RS WITHOUT ENOUGH EXPERIENCE.

I was a TA at a College affiliated with a University (Guelph-Humber), I never taught. A professor with 10 years of education and 17 years of experience did the teaching. I just did the grading, and led tutorials. In other words, I turned his jargon-laded lecture into plain English for confused Undergrads. Make no mistake, if I had 20 years experience teaching the same thing over and over, I’d either be too jaded to care about the students, or too embedded into my field to speak in plain English.

That’s why they want “fresh blood” to conduct tutorials. We’re suppose to create a less intimidating learning environment from students. Students like to think that the TA is somebody they can approach, as opposed to a grumpy old PhD. Some TA’s do it better than others, some are just god awful, considering the feed back I had, its safe to say I did a good job.

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TDG in Montreal, Quebec

41 months ago

I don't understand what the huge issues are with finding work in Urban Planning, it's certainly there if you want it (as far as Ontario is concerned). I would highly recommend that anyone who doesn't already have a degree (or someone who is in the process of getting one) look for Student summer jobs in the Urban Planning field, Ontario gets about 5-10 openings per year, they tend to hire right out of the chute (meaning after first year) their ultimate goal being by the time you're working there for your last summer they're getting an Urban Planner on the cheap. I'll admit I lucked out in getting one, but I'm not connected, didn't even come from the town that I got hired to work for, all I got was an interview just like several other applicants. It's all about savvy and dealing with people, if they see you're personable and professional and you know a little about Planning and are enthusiastic, you'll have no problems getting a job like this. The vast majority of entry level jobs in Ontario for Planning require a Bachelor's degree minimum and experience in the field, without the experience you are hopeless even if you have a Masters, and I sense that's where many of these complaints are coming from. I feel badly for those who are past the schooling stage because it WILL be difficult to get experience, for those in the process of getting their degrees, LOOK FOR THOSE SUMMER JOBS, they are out there, you just have to hunt them down and be dedicated to the process.

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perla in Lima, Peru

40 months ago

Host said: Are jobs in this industry on the rise? Are there any sub-sectors that are growing?

Where are the jobs? Which places have the most urban planner opportunities?

Urban Planners, Urban designers, architects... we all got plenty work to do, we need to reinvent the world... create new policies, new styles or approaches for design.... do not expect to find a job position .. create your job by proposing what you think should be done! I studied cities design and Urban Cultures in London plus architecture in Peru... and at the very beginning thought it was a waste of time.. until realizing that those skills need to be apply to create a better world not merely to find a good salary into a prestigious firm.. I started preparing ideas upon critical situations in cities like natural desasters, environmental issues, social conflicts... scarse resources.. unemployment ect... and propose some ideas to local goverments so that get finance to make strategies, design, research and fulfilling my soul with such a freedom ..... urban planners or cities designers we got not only the task to develop complex work for firms also to create new better places and that is constant worldwide issue! dont miss out !

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Oh dear in Cork, Ireland

40 months ago

Got my masters in Urban Planning this September, out of the 30 odd people who did the Mrups with me I think maybe three have jobs? the rest are Canada or New Zealand borne. Not the most encouraging situation

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Bubba in Toronto, Ontario

40 months ago

not joking in Ottawa, Ontario said: I was a TA at a College affiliated with a University (Guelph-Humber), I never taught. A professor with 10 years of education and 17 years of experience did the teaching. I just did the grading, and led tutorials. In other words, I turned his jargon-laded lecture into plain English for confused Undergrads. Make no mistake, if I had 20 years experience teaching the same thing over and over, I’d either be too jaded to care about the students, or too embedded into my field to speak in plain English.

That’s why they want “fresh blood” to conduct tutorials. We’re suppose to create a less intimidating learning environment from students. Students like to think that the TA is somebody they can approach, as opposed to a grumpy old PhD. Some TA’s do it better than others, some are just god awful, considering the feed back I had, its safe to say I did a good job.

You are the God not Joking
Good for you..you know so much..all theses people all know what you know.

For anyone who need to know the Humber college Public Admin program runs out of humber college and not Humber-Guelp University but what ever

and
Indeed Marketing person/ Forum looker oner...please dont remove my comments for no reason. its discussion and not abuse

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Jane in Miami Beach, Florida

40 months ago

lol bubba is the weakest link in this discussion

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Jane in Miami Beach, Florida

40 months ago

in other words, lol bubba's such a retard

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Babak in Vancouver, British Columbia

40 months ago

Ok guys, stop side stepping, and get back into the real discussion.
I haven't had much luck even getting a phone call or email for interviews, but did get rejection emails here and there. I haven't finished my thesis yet and will do so as soon as my committee agrees that my work and conceptual framework are sound.
In the mean time, I want to wish you all a great new year ahead, and tell you that maybe the best we can do is move around the world, or our own country at least, and look for jobs in other places.
I personally am very much set on going to Australia for a year on a Work and Holiday Visa and see what happens (can get a normal retail job in the mean time until I get something better in planning, and if not, then I would have enjoyed my time there in a new place with new friends). Maybe you should do the same, if time, money and other commitments will allow of course.

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Jane in Miami Beach, Florida

40 months ago

perla in Lima, Peru said: Urban Planners, Urban designers, architects... we all got plenty work to do, we need to reinvent the world... create new policies, new styles or approaches for design.... do not expect to find a job position .. create your job by proposing what you think should be done! I studied cities design and Urban Cultures in London plus architecture in Peru... and at the very beginning thought it was a waste of time.. until realizing that those skills need to be apply to create a better world not merely to find a good salary into a prestigious firm.. I started preparing ideas upon critical situations in cities like natural desasters, environmental issues, social conflicts... scarse resources.. unemployment ect... and propose some ideas to local goverments so that get finance to make strategies, design, research and fulfilling my soul with such a freedom ..... urban planners or cities designers we got not only the task to develop complex work for firms also to create new better places and that is constant worldwide issue! dont miss out !

What do you guys think about this? Maybe you're all doing it wrong and resigning yourselves to jobs that exist instead of creating your own?

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Curt in Niagara Falls, Ontario

39 months ago

TDG in Montreal, Quebec said: I don't understand what the huge issues are with finding work in Urban Planning, it's certainly there if you want it (as far as Ontario is concerned). I would highly recommend that anyone who doesn't already have a degree (or someone who is in the process of getting one) look for Student summer jobs in the Urban Planning field, Ontario gets about 5-10 openings per year, they tend to hire right out of the chute (meaning after first year) their ultimate goal being by the time you're working there for your last summer they're getting an Urban Planner on the cheap. I'll admit I lucked out in getting one, but I'm not connected, didn't even come from the town that I got hired to work for, all I got was an interview just like several other applicants. It's all about savvy and dealing with people, if they see you're personable and professional and you know a little about Planning and are enthusiastic, you'll have no problems getting a job like this. The vast majority of entry level jobs in Ontario for Planning require a Bachelor's degree minimum and experience in the field, without the experience you are hopeless even if you have a Masters, and I sense that's where many of these complaints are coming from. I feel badly for those who are past the schooling stage because it WILL be difficult to get experience, for those in the process of getting their degrees, LOOK FOR THOSE SUMMER JOBS, they are out there, you just have to hunt them down and be dedicated to the process.

Your comment was the first one that cheered me up! Im a college student in Ontario studying urban & regional planning, I am aware experience is critical so as a result I am trying to apply to my whole region of towns and municipalities, and even private firms for SUMMER work when I;m off of school. I know this experience is crucial in the long run! :)

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Curt in Niagara Falls, Ontario

39 months ago

TDG in Montreal, Quebec said: I don't understand what the huge issues are with finding work in Urban Planning, it's certainly there if you want it (as far as Ontario is concerned). I would highly recommend that anyone who doesn't already have a degree (or someone who is in the process of getting one) look for Student summer jobs in the Urban Planning field, Ontario gets about 5-10 openings per year, they tend to hire right out of the chute (meaning after first year) their ultimate goal being by the time you're working there for your last summer they're getting an Urban Planner on the cheap. I'll admit I lucked out in getting one, but I'm not connected, didn't even come from the town that I got hired to work for, all I got was an interview just like several other applicants. It's all about savvy and dealing with people, if they see you're personable and professional and you know a little about Planning and are enthusiastic, you'll have no problems getting a job like this. The vast majority of entry level jobs in Ontario for Planning require a Bachelor's degree minimum and experience in the field, without the experience you are hopeless even if you have a Masters, and I sense that's where many of these complaints are coming from. I feel badly for those who are past the schooling stage because it WILL be difficult to get experience, for those in the process of getting their degrees, LOOK FOR THOSE SUMMER JOBS, they are out there, you just have to hunt them down and be dedicated to the process.

Oh, and by the way I haven't started work in the planning field yet, and I am terrified i won't be smart enough when i start. However I am insanely enthusiastic about planning, it is so interesting to me every time i walk or drive around a city all i think about is planning. I have been told I am very ambitious so please tell me this is what will help me land a good career, even though I probably won't get a masters degree but rather a bachelors persay?

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SQ in Morgan Hill, California

39 months ago

Curt in Niagara Falls, Ontario said: Oh, and by the way I haven't started work in the planning field yet, and I am terrified i won't be smart enough when i start. However I am insanely enthusiastic about planning, it is so interesting to me every time i walk or drive around a city all i think about is planning. I have been told I am very ambitious so please tell me this is what will help me land a good career, even though I probably won't get a masters degree but rather a bachelors persay?

News flash, planning is DEAD (I'm not so sure it was ever alive). It's a completely useless profession that anyone with a high school diploma could do. Please do yourself a favor and find a new career before it's too late.

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Curt in Niagara Falls, Ontario

39 months ago

Well, I don't know what you are saying dead. Why would I do another career because if I did i would always regret not being in planning since that is all I think about. And clearly you don't need just a higschool diploma because you will never get ajob otherwise. And every town or city has a planning department with several employees depending on the size of the city, thanks but you're words won't discourage me.

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Jane in Miami Beach, Florida

39 months ago

Lots of good news on this board...

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Jane in Miami Beach, Florida

39 months ago

PS Bubba, I find it kinda funny that you'd rather believe me and that guy are the same person rather than that I'm just some college student that's reading your mean-spirited comments and thinking you're a jerk.

"I said I did not want to work in a GRAY CUBICLE writing essays for the federal government. I never compared a College diploma with a Masters.DOWN BOY!!!...stay!" You really talk to people that way?

You know you could say things in a non-offensive way and earn more respect that way, right? Instead of coming off so rude, bitter and immature? Sheesh, my freshman college peers seem more professional than you.

You can go off on your unintelligible diatribe now.

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Masswich in Somerville, Massachusetts

39 months ago

SQ in Morgan Hill, California said: Let me reiterate, planning is not a REAL profession. It's a fake profession. And if you ever find a job, you'll be sitting behind a desk doing paper work. You'll never do anything significant because planners don't have any real skills.

You seem to keep repeating that. I think people understand your view. But I can't say I agree with it.

As a practicing public sector planner, I will say there is a part of the job that is paperwork and desk sitting. But there is also some exciting opportunities if you learn to play the political game a bit and have some professional skills that can be learned at - drumroll - graduate programs in urban planning. Not to say that you can't do the job with a high school diploma or less. But that's true for a small set of talented people in any field- if you are a good learner you don't need any degrees, you teach yourself. But I personally found graduate studies enjoyable and learned a lot quickly. And in planning, unlike many fields, there are a fair amount of financial aid sources to reduce your borrowing load when you are done.

However, the field is very tight right now. The economy is bad and, on top of that, federal recovery programs are winding down. It is a tough job market out there. That's true in many fields, though, not just planning. It will change. If you like planning, think long term, not whether you can get a job in the first six months after graduating.

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Jane in Miami Beach, Florida

39 months ago

That's what I was thinking - I feel like a fool saying that "the job markets pretty bad for planners" when I look around me and see that it's bad all over - even for some engineers. It seems to be what you make of it.

Honestly, now that I've had my taste of planning, I can't really see myself doing any other career... none of them seem as fulfilling.

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SQ in Morgan Hill, California

39 months ago

Masswich in Somerville, Massachusetts said: You seem to keep repeating that. I think people understand your view. But I can't say I agree with it...

Allow me to elaborate. When you say that it's tough for everyone right now because of the bad economy, that is simply not true. Look at any science or technology related field. What is the unemployment rate for software engineers, electrical engineers, and statisticians? Probably around 3 percent right now. Why? Because people in those fields actually do something important that requires solid skills attained over a long period of time. Because people who went to school in fields like that took challenging classes. Because those people actually do something useful for society rather than pushing papers from here to there.

Planning is a superfluous, nonessential field. Why do you think it's so easy to get into a top planning school? Why do you think that people graduating with masters degrees in planning have NO job offers upon graduating?

I got my masters in planning from one of THE best universities in the country and the program was a complete joke. It wasn't intellectually challenging in the least. I didn't even give it a 100 percent effort and I can cruised by with A's in nearly all of my classes. Hardly anyone in my cohort found a planning related job upon graduation whereas friends of mine in other real fields at the same prestigious university were getting recruited by fortune 500 companies before they even graduated.

What does that tell you? Planning = FAIL.

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Jane in Miami Beach, Florida

39 months ago

SQ in Morgan Hill, California said: What does that tell you? Planning = FAIL.

Can you compare chances of employment for planning vs. architecture? I'm currently an architecture student who was thinking of switching to planning.

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Babak in Vancouver, British Columbia

39 months ago

Ok, to get back to SQ:

I think your entire way of thinking is screwed in the wrong way. First of all, planning is an essential matter almost anywhere on this earth, and the only people who would disagree with this are architects, and usually the ones that actually have planning degrees themselves or have been commissioned big urban development projects.
I think you went to one of the worst schools of planning in the entire North American continent, otherwise you wouldn't be so bitter about not getting a job. a bunch of my friends from Waterloo have already gotten jobs in both Canada and Europe (Europe for God's sake, with such a bad economic condition). Planning is somewhat like the food industry in that it is essential to the human condition of living in urban areas. Please don't come around here and act bitter. By the sheer fact that you mention fortune 500 companies, it tells me that you went in to school for the money not to actually help people, learn anything, or become an intellectually savvy person in the end. You need to develop and grow up and mature your intellect, and perhaps your value system needs some re-adjustment too. I'm sorry for being so harsh, but from one planner to another: touch love mate.

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TDG in Montreal, Quebec

39 months ago

If anything this explains why you're such a bitter son of a gun. Nobody is responsible for your failures but yourself. There are PLENTY of planning jobs out there but the competition is high. If you had real passion or foresight you would have attempted to get some experience concurrently with your education so that when you finished you could GET a job. Trust me, the job market is tough in Planning because they ask for a degree AND experience in many cases, most people don't have both. Just because you couldn't manage to get in, doesn't mean Planners are a joke.

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Babak in Vancouver, British Columbia

39 months ago

Totally agree with TDG, right on mate.
There are also internships and voluntary positions that you have to look for as a last resort, in order to get some hands-on experience. SQ, don't be so bitter, maybe you should think hard about your passion and find out if you actually love planning. In my opinion, if you don't love what you're trained to do, you will never be successful at it, and you will end up depressed and sad. My own dad is a gynecologist (doctors make tons of money) but guess what? He never talked about his work and he never showed any enthusiasm for what he was trained for, and what else? He's been a bitter depressed person since I was a child, and now I understand that a big part of it is the fact that he became a doctor to make money or to make his family proud, but he was never happy. Do what makes you happy, even if it's driving a garbage truck. Happiness is the most important part of a good life, in my opinion, other people's opinions and judgement about your job and training is not as important friend.

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SQ in Morgan Hill, California

39 months ago

Jane in Miami Beach, Florida said: Can you compare chances of employment for planning vs. architecture? I'm currently an architecture student who was thinking of switching to planning.

To anyone who claims that I'm bitter, let me be absolutely clear. My sole objective is to help people like Jane who are trying to decide whether planning is right for them. I'm here to present facts and share my personal experiences. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and this is mine.

Jane, I would advise you to stick with architecture and maybe do a minor in planning if possible. That might give you a slight edge over other architects especially if you're interested in urban design and site planning (which are things that architects do anyway NOT planners). Granted, things are tough for architects right now because of the halt in construction but architecture is still a real profession such that when you graduate you will have acquired a real skill. The problem with planning is that studying it in school doesn't teach you any practical skills. It's pretty much a glorified version of other useless social sciences like sociology and political science.

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Dano in Littleton, Colorado

39 months ago

SQ in Morgan Hill, California said: Let me reiterate, planning is not a REAL profession. It's a fake profession. And if you ever find a job, you'll be sitting behind a desk doing paper work. You'll never do anything significant because planners don't have any real skills.

Jealous much? Such comments look sad and resentful, like someone who didn't have the social skills to get hired and now has a debt burden they can't pay.

It may be a sad situation for some people, but that is no reason to post falsehoods and mendacity about the profession. It is pathetic to take one's resentment out on others' dreams, folks. That is what appears to be going on here.

See how it looks when people make stuff up? Then why are some doing it, trolling job boards instead of building social skills and participating in life to be employable?!?

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Jane in Miami Beach, Florida

39 months ago

I did detect a distinct scent of troll in here.

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Jim in Melbourne, Australia

39 months ago

I did urban planning...I have worked in different jobs over the last 3-4 years in the field. My main area is transport planning.

Unfortunately after awhile I realised the field is a dud. It's a horrible realisation. Forget about ever making any changes to the urban environment. That aside the career opportunities are limited and it's a very niche profession so it moves slowly. If you move or change job you usually get demoted instead of promoted. Pay is pretty average unless you stay with the same company for 10 years and don't move city or want to travel etc.

I'm leaving the profession to become an accountant believe it or not. It will be probably just as boring but at least I'll have opportunity and will be paid better.

Learn from my mistake and several of my colleagues are doing the same and getting out.

Just to note I am in Australia, which has weathered the GFC so to speak...and even then planning is doing really badly.

I am still passionate about urban planning, but working in the field and academic urban planning have absolutely nothing in common.

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chrisinsobe (San Francisco) in San Francisco, California

39 months ago

Jim in Melbourne has pretty much hit the nail on the head.

I’ve always been passionate about cities and urban development but planning as a profession is a road to nowhere. Perhaps this is because the field is heavily populated by low-energy municipal civil servant types where idealism and creativity are quickly squashed. There is also academia but that is an isolated world unto itself.

The big problem with planning as a profession is that, aside from urban design (a sub-specialty dominated by architects), anyone with half a brain can do most planning work, hence all the talk about it being a “fake profession“ … much has already been written about this so I won’t elaborate. As a result, planners (who don’t also have “hard” credentials in architecture or engineering) aren’t valued very much. This fact is evident in every office where I have worked (mostly large multi-discipline private sector A/E firms). Planners are also the first to go when business slows down. Couple that with the fact that municipalities (where most planners work) are downsizing everywhere these days, the employment prospects for planners is indeed very dim, plus many retiring boomers aren’t likely to be replaced either.

I’ve stuck with planning as profession for most of my working life (the last 30 years) even though I began to suspect very early on that the profession was a dud. I might have left planning altogether except for the fact I landed a job in Qatar a number of years ago which subsequently led to other gigs in Dubai and elsewhere in the Middle East so that after a few years of doing this I developed a niche for myself as a master planner in that part of the world… today the employers come looking for me rather than the other way around.

My experience has been pretty unique, however, especially for an American planner, and I would not recommend planning as a stand-alone profession to anyone unless they get a degree in architecture or engineering first; then perhaps a gradu

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chrisinsobe in San Francisco, California

39 months ago

The last paragraph of what I just posted got cut off somehow... here it is again again:

... My experience has been pretty unique, however, especially for an American planner, and I would not recommend planning as a stand-alone profession to anyone unless they get a degree in architecture or engineering first; then perhaps a graduate degree in planning might be useful. Otherwise, I can’t understand why anyone or any publication would consider planning as an “up-an-coming” profession… it’s quite the opposite.

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satya singh in Kogarah, Australia

39 months ago

hi,i am from Nepal,i did my master of geography from Nepal in 2008 and came here in australia for studying ..i did some diploma of business studies before which i didnt find any good in it....so i started a one year master of urban planning..being international student from developing countries and paying full tution fees by self...is very stressing mentally and pysically as i have to do lot of hard work physcically in domestic cleaning or restaurant jobs..toiling to blood and sweat...still rule changes for residency purpose...and its very hard to get jobs for internaitonal student as we allowed to work 20 hours...so people applies to residency ..now its very hard to apply...i am worried about what i am gonna do after this expensive education..even i couldnt find a job in nepal..when i went few weeks ago..and asked..they told me better to start education in nepal as australian planning is not used in nepal..so its not transferrable...may be bit..but not..i almost paid thirty thousand dollar...i wish i could get that money back and go home start my own consulting firm for toher development projects which i could find from some networks...even few ..that could make my survive rather than working like dogs and kind of racist poicy still barring us to get job facilities...i think us and canada has good education than australia..at least i can get transferrable skill..something useful for my country...or something possible to get jobs in this field..so i am not sure what kind of course i should start...for good future..shoudl i go for further studies in australia..like phd..or just go back home...and study better phd there instead of spending lot of mone

i have read all the comments to my interest and keen for jobs in urban planning as i am graduating from one year degree in planning from aus..i am totally hopeless for the outcome of this degree and sad because i cant find a good skills while i study in australia .plz sen meemail at geoenvirons@hotmail.com

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Perla Canales in Lima, Peru

39 months ago

I found myself identified with your situation in the past when I finished my degree in Cities Design from londonMet University, I worked so hard to get that degree and finally recesion pull me off from London so I missed out the opportunity to gain work experience and apply all what I learned since my final thesis was a london topic. I had to come back home, sadness and frustration invaded me for while, as I though I was walking back instead of progresing. I come from a developing country as you and yes you are completely right those skills are not applicable for our country but is simply because nobody applied before,there is a lack of planning that is why we are developing country, so darling you got plenty work to do in Nepal as I have in Peru. Of course the approaches and results wont be the same but what a master degree gave us is research skills and a great confident to take right decitions. Within time I realised how much responsability have the ones that went abroad to gain more skills and are back now. I can advise you, dont waste time looking for a job unless is as an external consultant or for an specific project. You might over qualified as I am here too. And dont think that is wrong, those degrees open bigger doors. I did few projects this 2 years in Peru, but they are really relevant for the country so that push up all my CV. Off course designing Sidney opera exteriors or Liverpool stations doesnt match within our context, but there other issues to solve. I design and plannified a emerging city in short term plannified invasion for floodings in the peruvian forest also did some research for cultural territorial economies with the purpose of preserving culture as the base for developing cities and its economies, of course that job was not in the country plans. I did proposed as a creative solution. You need to go and see what can be done and propose that to goverment, investors ect.. you just need to adjust your thoughts to other realities.Good luck.

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Satya Singh in Sydney, Australia

39 months ago

Hi perla canales
Thanks a lot for your valuable suggestion ,I take this very seriously and agree with u that it's hard to get jobs and waste my time for greed of money rather than giving some creative inputs like your activities in peru after u went graduating from UK and its sad that such abroad degree which we take is just like blank cheque .dont know when it gonna open big doors ...I m 31 now already lost my study enthusiasm once I started to work as cleaners all time almost three years for rent and tuition fees more than ten thousand dollar per semester ....but not practical skills....I went back to Nepal for jobs situation ,it's empty almost few opening.....but I can survive at least if I start proposing some new theme relevance to planning what we studied but also it needs circle. Of people to keep the track and work together ...networking

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Satya Singh in Sydney, Australia

39 months ago

Hi perla canales
Thanks a lot for your valuable suggestion ,I take this very seriously and agree with u that it's hard to get jobs and waste my time for greed of money rather than giving some creative inputs like your activities in peru after u went graduating from UK and its sad that such abroad degree which we take is just like blank cheque .dont know when it gonna open big doors ...I m 31 now already lost my study enthusiasm once I started to work as cleaners all time almost three years for rent and tuition fees more than ten thousand dollar per semester ....but not practical skills....I went back to Nepal for jobs situation ,it's empty almost few opening.....but I can survive at least if I start proposing some new theme relevance to planning what we studied but also it needs circle. Of people to keep the track and work together ...networking

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