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USA

The RTPI briefing on finding work overseas gives general advice the Guide to Working Internationally also contains useful information of issues to consider, planning systems and how to find work.

National Planning Organisation

Two institutes based at the same address perform between them the same functions as the RTPI: membership of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) is the recognised qualification for planners, while the American Planning Association (APA) promotes and defends planning. Information for both is contained on the same website and icnludes information on how to beocme a certified planner, conferences, policy, publications, events, jobs and careers. See: https://www.planning.org/.

Contact:

Job Hunting Websites

Jobs are also advertised in the Planetizen Newswire while the Planetizen web-site is an excellent source of information on current planning topics in the US, and you can sign up to get a twice-weekly digest of news and vacancies.

Some words of caution

We warn Members wanting to work in the USA that British-qualified and trained planners have found it very hard to get work there. We know of only a handful of planners who have achieved this, and they were either US nationals who trained here or British citizens who could transfer through their own existing employer if they had offices in the US already. In fact, we know of some who had strong family connections but still found it extremely difficult to get work.

Ease of access to information about vacancies should not mislead any UK-trained planner: it is generally difficult for non-US citizens to get professional jobs in the USA. There are obstacles associated with visas and other immigration formalities as well as the technical barrier created by the differences between the US planning administration system and the UK model. At present it would be unusual for a local authority to be able to argue that a British planner had skills which no native could offer.

Local comments

US employers lack familiarity with the way planners are educated elsewhere. In the UK, any prospective employer would know what knowledge and (crucially) experience a chartered town planner would have gained along the way. When the Institute enquired of a local authority in San Francisco "Would a planner with (say) 3 years of undergraduate planning or related education followed by post-graduate specialist planning training and a minimum of two years planning experience find it easy to apply for jobs such as the two you circulated?" the reply was I believe such a person would be qualified (in fact our former planning director did not even have these qualifications!). It would probably be helpful - and make the applicant more attractive - if they had taken some of their education in the US or Canada or had practiced in the US or Canada for a few years at least.' So despite the encouragement at the start of his reply, in the end it was clear that it is North American experience which counts, not education or training. US planning is based on a very different legal and administrative system, and it is hard to break into this without re-qualifying. This contrasts with the situation in Australia and New Zealand, for example.

Exchanges and other Opportunities

There are some opportunities available for British and Irish Planners.

The APA and RTPI promote a two-week international exchange programme. This could be an attractive option for someone wishing to gain experience of US planning and build up contacts in the country.  To apply please contact the APA.

Full- and part-time Irish students and graduates (up to 12 months after receiving their degrees) have access to a special one-year work and travel visa (although this may change due to the new travel restrictions recently imposed by the US government - for the latest information please first check: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/usa/entry-requirements). This has the huge advantage that you do not have to have secured a job before leaving for the USA, but simply start job-hunting when you arrive.  You must look for work in the subject of your degree (but the categories are fairly broad). More information from USIT and Go4Less

 

Updated July 2017