News Release: July 20, 2016

Survey Says: Certified Planners Earn More

Results from biennial compensation survey continue to demonstrate certified planners earn higher salaries.

CHICAGO — The biennial compensation survey conducted by the American Planning Association’s professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, found that certified planners still continue to earn more than non-certified planners.

The recent survey conducted in April 2016, showed AICP-certified planners typically earn $16,000 more than non-certified planners. When controlled for experience, the margin of earnings decreased, but remained higher than the earnings of non-certified planners. AICP-certified planners have consistently been shown to earn more since APA’s professional institute began the compensation survey in 2004.

“The survey findings underscore the long-term career benefits of a planner earning his or her certification,” said APA Director of Professional Practice Felicia Braunstein. “Employers also benefit by hiring certified planners as they are required to remain current about the latest planning practice.”

AICP certified planners stand out within the planning profession for meeting rigorous standards and maintaining their expertise through continuing education and serving community interests. To be eligible to take the AICP exam, the final step to achieving certification, individuals must fulfill a series of requirements including education and job experience.

Another notable trend from this year’s compensation survey is the first-time appearance of Illinois as one of the top five states for planner salaries. This year, Illinois ranked fifth behind the consistent top showing of the District of Columbia, California, New Jersey, and Nevada.

The survey was conducted by independent research company Readex Research. The response rate was 39 percent. APA members (regular, life, faculty and new professionals) that are employed or self-employed full-time and year-round as planners or in planning-related positions received invitations to complete the survey. 

Full survey analysis is open only to APA members. Members also have access to the salary calculator that enables a member to filter the survey results to compare his or her salary to that of other planners in their age range, location, specialty, etc.

The American Planning Association is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities. APA and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, are dedicated to advancing the art, science and profession of good planning — physical, economic and social — so as to create communities that offer better choices for where and how people work and live. Members of APA help create communities of lasting value and encourage civic leaders, business interests and citizens to play a meaningful role in creating communities that enrich people's lives. APA has offices in Washington, D.C., and Chicago. For more information, visit

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Roberta Rewers, APA, 312-786-6395;