Should I Become a Planning Officer?
Planning officers specialize in the design and implementation of strategic management plans for businesses in all types of industries to increase their efficiency and profits. Similar to management analysts or management consultants, these professionals might examine company financial or marketing data, interview employees and observe business procedures and practices. They then use this information to develop business strategies. They might also consult with management after their plans have been implemented to make sure they're working as expected.
Planning officers and management analysts might be self-employed, which means they can decide their own work schedule, but they also have the stress of finding enough clients to earn a living. These officers also must travel frequently, since they often spend time at their clients' businesses. The following table contains the main requirements for becoming a planning officer:
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree generally required; some positions may require a graduate degree|
|Degree Field||Business or related field such as marketing or finance|
|Experience||Many employers require 5+ years of experience|
|Key Skills||Communication skills, analytical skills, detail-oriented; financial, spreadsheet and/or project management software|
|Salary||$90,860 (Mean Annual Wage for Management Analysts, May 2014)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
Becoming a planning officer begins with earning a bachelor's degree. Students may choose to earn degrees in business, marketing or other majors related to strategic planning. Bachelor of Business Administration programs, for example, equip students with the fundamental skills needed for careers in business. Courses may include marketing, international business, financial planning, accounting, operations management and business analytics.
- Complete an internship while in college. An internship provides real-world professional experience that can prove useful for securing a job upon graduation. Even lower-level positions in strategic planning often require at least a year of previous experience.
Step 2: Earn a Master's Degree
Many employers prefer to hire strategic planning officers or managers who hold Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees. MBA programs generally take two years to complete. Some schools offer MBA programs with concentrations in strategic planning. These programs prepare students to work independently and collaboratively in the development of comprehensive business plans.
Step 3: Gain Work Experience
Aspiring planning officers may benefit from gaining applicable work experience, such as a business administration or strategic planning coordinator position. Working in a demanding setting, such as a consulting or investment firm, is an ideal way to obtain knowledge and connections in the industry. Such positions also provide workers with the hands-on, industry-specific experience necessary for finding employment as a planning officer.
Step 4: Obtain Employment as a Planning Officer
Planning officers may find employment in a variety of industries, such as healthcare, technology and any setting that requires strategic planning. Employers prefer applicants who demonstrate strong communication skills and creative problem-solving processes. Since planning officers are responsible for the overall design of businesses' procedures, they must be versed in all aspects of business, including finance, marketing and management.
Step 5: Get Voluntary Certification
The Association for Strategic Planning offers the Strategic Planning Professional (SPP) credential to qualified candidates in the business planning field. The eligibility requirements for SPP certification include possession of a college degree or five years of work experience. Applicants must also have two years of experience in an internal planning role or as a junior external planning consultant. After satisfying these requirements, candidates must pass a certification exam. SPPs must recertify every three years by passing an exam or completing six continuing education units.