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Old January 24th, 2013, 12:13 AM   #1
M.R.Victor
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Insights into Urban Planning?

This is a bit of a shot in the dark, but I'm curious whether there are any individuals on these boards who are willing to impart some of their insights into the urban planning profession, whether derived from first-hand work experience or indirect exposure to this field.

I'm curious about two topics in general, namely urban planning as a career and urban planning as a vocation.

On the career front, what are the educational requirements for entry in the field. Does international experience matter? (for example is a Masters' in the UK transferable to the US or Canada). Is experience more important than a degree? Does the prestige of the school matter? How much can a planner home to earn and how in demand is this position?

In terms of the vocational aspect, how much influence do urban planners actually have. To what extent are they at the whim of politics, and what is the general level of job satisfaction (obviously in highly general terms) that one can derive from this profession.

The reason for my question is that I'm considering doing a Masters' in transportation planning at University College in London. I've already started the application process, but I would appreciate any information which would help make my decision more informed. Cheers and thanks in advance
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Old January 24th, 2013, 05:20 PM   #2
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Those are the exact questions I'd like to be answered too! For the same reason! (Different degree though)
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Old January 24th, 2013, 06:43 PM   #3
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I am a transport engineer / planner and specialise in development planning. I work with developers and produce all the necessary documents to support their planning applications, designs associated with integration to the highway, public realm works and negotiations with highway authorities. I have worked on a number of London developments that been through this board and some that are on their way.

The most satisfying part of my job I find is at the early stages of developments where you sit as part of a design team and influence the final design. I usually find myself sat with the architects and landscape architects designing the servicing arrangements and also the public realm. You go through so many interpolations you do wonder if the design will ever fix - it is very fluid. Building it is the easy bit!

The best thing with working on London developments is that they are brown field with so many constraints that have to be solved. Developers are far more likely in London to want to enhance the public realm. Also the car is not king in London so you find yourself mitigating impacts for the pedestrian and public transport.

As a planner you might find yourself working on masterplans. We have just completed one for a local authority in the west of London. The LA has earmarked a huge area to be redeveloped. We were required to investigate the maximum density of development the infrastructure can sustain then propose and cost mitigation measures such as highway and public transport improvements.

What kind of influence do you want? If you want to get down to the nitty-gritty like the colour of paving materials and light columns I would suggest that transport planning is not for you and you should look at a masters in urban design. However, transport planning is very transferable; I have colleagues working in the Middle East, Australia etcetera.
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Old January 24th, 2013, 07:01 PM   #4
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Hey No Expert, thanks for the response, I find it interesting. I'm not quite sure how much influence I like, or whether I should focus on transportation planning or urban design. At this point, I'm just feeling out the general characteristics of the field.

I was a bit disappointed when, on other occasions, I encountered the thought that planning jobs are few and far in between. Is that true, in your experience? Is it tough to obtain a job upon graduation?
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Old January 24th, 2013, 07:08 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M.R.Victor View Post
Hey No Expert, thanks for the response, I find it interesting. I'm not quite sure how much influence I like, or whether I should focus on transportation planning or urban design. At this point, I'm just feeling out the general characteristics of the field.

I was a bit disappointed when, on other occasions, I encountered the thought that planning jobs are few and far in between. Is that true, in your experience? Is it tough to obtain a job upon graduation?
To answer you earlier questions:

Qu: On the career front, what are the educational requirements for entry in the field.
Aws: Transport planning masters

Qu: Does international experience matter? (for example is a Masters' in the UK transferable to the US or Canada).
Aws: Yes the concept is the same but there maybe local law and policy to learn. You should consider working abroad as part of your career development

Qu: Is experience more important than a degree?
Aws: Not nowadays. You won’t get a job unless you want to start at the very bottom and work your way up. Also you will want to get chartered with a TPP. See http://www.ciht.org.uk/

Qu: Does the prestige of the school matter?
Aws: Depends for what you apply and to who

Qu: How much can a planner home to earn and how in demand is this position?
Aws: Money wise. Mmm. A fresh graduate would start on at least 24k the ceiling seems to be around 50 to60k unless you get into a management position. Our boss of our transporting planning business is on 200k.

Yes in demand. It was a skills shortage which allows people from outside the EU to get a visa. We did go through a quiet patch but things are picking up and we are recruiting again. Get yourself a holiday placement.
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Old January 25th, 2013, 05:43 PM   #6
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You talk about insights into Urban Planning but then considering doing a Transportation Masters....? Are you referring to the MSc in Transport and City Planning? If so this would provide a potential route into either Transport Planning or Urban Planning, and on the plus side Robin Hickman (one of main lecturers) is excellent.

I would say, for either Urban Planning or Transport Planning an MSc makes you an awful lot more employable, and generally think the MSc is better than experience. Certainly for a graduate job!

P.s. I've got an MSc in Transport Planning and Engineering and work as a Transport Planner at a London Borough.
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Old January 26th, 2013, 04:14 AM   #7
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Yes, that's preciesely the program I'm aiming for. My worry about coming out of school with no working experience at all was based manily on how the canadian system operates, where just an education and no experience is not considered sufficient to land a good job.

I appreciate the comments. I'll go forward with my appliation, and who knows, maybe with a bit of luck, I'll be packing my bags for london in 6 months. Cheers guys
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Old January 26th, 2013, 04:20 AM   #8
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I finished my undergrad in City and regional planning last summer and planned to do a masters in Urban design this year. Unfortunately, from what I can tell, the job market for the entire planning sector seems to have completely dried up for graduates.

Jobs that are advertised as 'Graduate positions' often require that you have 1 years experience... so it's not really a graduate position. I have even found it impossible to get free work experience.

I have thus put on hold my urban design MA (mostly because I got an unrelated and quite well paid job) until 2014 when hopefully the job market will have improved. I'm also hoping that I will be more successful in gaining planning related experience whilst doing a masters if I keep hassling the tutors/lecturers for help in obtaining some.
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Old January 27th, 2013, 02:02 AM   #9
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I have no experience in Urban Planning or Design, my degree was in linguistics, but I would love to take my enthusiasm for the subject further and make a career out of it. I'm not interested in the planning so much as the design, and I was fortunate enough to be admitted onto a PG Cert at the University of Westminster, until my funding stream was blocked- I'm too embarrassed to apply to them again.

How easy is it to get a job in design, rather than planning? Where should I be looking to get experience and what should I include in a portfolio considering I haven't got a first degree in the field? Should I retrain from scratch? (Thinking of re-training as an architect, too!)
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Old January 28th, 2013, 02:51 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tuten View Post
I finished my undergrad in City and regional planning last summer and planned to do a masters in Urban design this year. Unfortunately, from what I can tell, the job market for the entire planning sector seems to have completely dried up for graduates.

Jobs that are advertised as 'Graduate positions' often require that you have 1 years experience... so it's not really a graduate position. I have even found it impossible to get free work experience.

I have thus put on hold my urban design MA (mostly because I got an unrelated and quite well paid job) until 2014 when hopefully the job market will have improved. I'm also hoping that I will be more successful in gaining planning related experience whilst doing a masters if I keep hassling the tutors/lecturers for help in obtaining some.
i'm graduating in a few months with a property and urban development undergrad from university of westminster and you are right, there are no jobs out there, those companies that are advertising jobs have a back log of people with huge amounts of experience applying for those positions. i interned at a local council and they were still cutting back positions in the regeneration department and consolidating any remaining staff.

For urban planning RTPI accreditation is good, but everyone i talk to seems to say that all you get for your £400 membership is a magazine and they have all recommended me to follow the RICS accreditation pathway.

defiantly check what accreditation the course offers.
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Old February 12th, 2013, 07:18 PM   #11
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If you go to the careers section of the Jacobs website and search Graduate Transport Planner in GB. There are 9 positions advertised across the UK. The postitions do not require experience.
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