Why do you want a freelance career in environmental planning?
You may want freedom, higher income, or just new adventure.
The lessons I share in this article will help you begin your flexible self-employment as a Filipino Environmental Planner.
Why I Became a Freelance Filipino Environmental Planner
I ventured into Freelance Environmental Planning because of three primary reasons.
First, I am starting a family.
I wanted to help my wife adjust to the birth of our daughter. One of the biggest pros of being a freelance environmental planner is time and flexibility.
I have worked in output-based projects, so I was able to work on my determined productivity times.
Second, I wanted to practice my profession as a Licensed Environmental Planner more freely.
I have a Master of Science in Environmental Science degree, so I knew that I could explore a wide array of opportunities.
While an Assistant Professor, I got involved into two local government planning projects.
Read: My First Year of Teaching
In January 2018, we started the process of updating the Comprehensive Land Use Plan of the Municipality of Tiwi.
In June 2018, I was a Field Supervisor for undergraduate students who completed the Ecological Profile of the Municipality of Bacacay.
Becoming a Licensed Environmental Planner in August 2018, I continually dreamed of helping Philippine local governments update their important planning documents.
Lastly, I also wanted to pursue other endeavors.
Nearing my 30s, I would like to start establishing passive income sources.
I know that being an employee will not make me financially stable.
So, I started to create content to build up my personal and professional brand.
In short, I chose to be a freelance Filipino Environmental Planner to explore more opportunities for me and my career.
Becoming a freelancer gave me control of my time and my commitments. It also opened avenues for enhancing my personal growth.
What are your reasons for considering freelancing as a licensed professional?
Hopefully, after reading this article, you can decide completely if freelancing is your choice.
What can a Freelance Filipino Environmental Planner do?
Freelancing increases freedom.
Employees work on projects that their companies handle. These may or may not be in their liking or field of expertise.
For a full range of opportunities for Filipino Environmental Planners, I quote the Scope of Practice section of Republic Act 10587.
SEC. 5. Scope of Practice. – The practice of environmental planning, within the meaning and intent of this Act, shall embrace the following:
(a) Providing professional services in the form of technical consultation, rendering of technical advice, plan preparation, capacity building and monitoring and evaluation of implementation involving the following:
1. National, regional or local development and/or physical framework and comprehensive land-use plans;
2. Zoning and related ordinances, codes and other legal issuances for the development and management, preservation, conservation, rehabilitation, regulation and control of the environment, including all land, water, air and natural resources;
3. Planning and development of a barangay, municipality, city, province, region or any portion or combination thereof; and
4. Development of a site for a particular need or special purpose, such as economic or ecological zones; tourism development zones; and housing and other estate development projects, including the creation of any other spatial arrangement of buildings, utilities, transport and communications;
(b) In relation to any of the activities enumerated in paragraph (a) above, preparing the following studies:
1. Pre-feasibility, feasibility and other related concerns;
2. Environmental assessments; and
3. Institutional, administrative or legal systems;
(c) Curriculum and syllabi development in licensure examinations for environmental planners and teaching in academic institutions and conducting review courses in environmental planning;
(d) Serving as expert witness, resource person, lecturer, juror or arbitrator in hearings, competitions, exhibitions and other public fora; conduct of hearings, competitions, exhibits and other public fora;
(e) Ensuring compliance with environmental laws including the acquisition of regulatory permits.
The Professional Regulatory Board, subject to approval of the Professional Regulation Commission, may add to, or exclude from, this section any activity or act of professional practice, or revise it as the need arises to conform to changes and new developments brought about by the latest trends in environmental planning; and
(f) Perform other acts or conduct other activities that may be determined by the Board, subject to approval by the Professional Regulation Commission in light of the trend of the practice of the profession.Republic Act 10587 (emphasis mine)
In short, a Freelance Filipino Environmental Planner can do anything, as long as these are aligned with the Scope of Practice and the current regulations of the Professional Regulatory Commission.
How to become a Freelance Filipino Environmental Planner?
Become a Licensed Environmental Planner
The first step to starting a freelance career in environmental planning is to become a Filipino Environmental Planner.
This was one of the frequently asked questions about environmental planning the Philippines that I answered in another article.
To become a registered and licensed environmental planner in the Philippines, the following general steps must be taken:
1. Satisfy the academic requirements and gain work experience to apply for the Environmental Planning Board Exam.
2. Pass the Environmental Planning Board Exam
3. Register with the Professional Regulatory Commission and the Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners…Frequently Asked Questions about Environmental Planning in the Philippines
You can say you are a Filipino Environmental Planner when you are issued a Certificate of Registration and an ID card by the Professional Regulatory Commission.
Register with the Bureau of Internal Revenue as a Freelance Licensed Professional
Being a Filipino Environmental Planner, you are a “Filipino” first.
The Philippine government collects taxes for funding of government projects (hopefully!) for Filipino welfare. So, you should pay your taxes accurately.
Like employees, freelance Filipino Environmental Planners must also be registered with the Bureau of Internal Revenue for taxation purposes.
Unlike ordinary employees, professionals regulated by the Professional Regulatory Commission register as Licensed Professionals.
Registering as a Licensed Professional is almost similar to registering as a self-employed individual.
Licensed professionals only have different application requirements (e.g., Professional Tax Receipt instead of the Occupational Tax Receipt) and additional exemptions (like waiver of business permit payment for the offices of licensed professionals).
As a Licensed Professional, if you will transact as an individual and will not hire employees yet, you may register as a licensed professional.
However, if you will hire employees, you will need to apply as a sole proprietor.
Sole proprietors are business owners, thus they are required to register their business names with the Department of Trade and Industry before registering with the BIR and local government units.
Many taxation and accounting firms have produced comprehensive guides for registering as a Licensed Professional for taxing purposes.
Your registration with the BIR as a Licensed Professional is complete if you have:
- A Certificate of Registration
- Official Receipts
- Books of Account
From personal experience, I learned that Licensed Professionals should accomplish and notarize respective Sworn Declaration of Gross Receipts. Your clients need copies of these for withholding taxes from your professional fees.
Establish accounting systems and file taxes on time
In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.Benjamin Franklin
Going freelance, your most time-consuming tasks may be maintaining your accounting books and filing your taxes.
When I was starting in my freelancing, I spent at least a week studying the various taxation concerns for licensed professionals. Accounting and bookkeeping are necessary evils for the freelance professional.
With well-maintained accounting records, you can measure your professional growth in terms of the time you spend on projects.
You can adjust your time budget or outsource time-wasters.
Filing taxes on time also saves you money and worry.
Being a registered professional, filing the proper taxes is an advantage.
By filing the proper taxes, you can earn back the taxes withheld by your clients if your total income does not exceed P250,000. Unregistered freelancers are uncertain to get the 5% or 10% withholding tax from their supposed sales.
Find clients that you can help as a Freelance Filipino Environmental Planner
Clients are the blood of your freelancing career.
You need to market yourself effectively to avoid extended periods of inactivity and “famine.”
In the beginning of your freelancing career, you will need to define your client profile.
Who do you want to work with?
General Areas of Opportunity for Freelance Filipino Environmental Planners
There are three general areas of opportunity for Freelance Filipino Environmental Planners.
Environmental permitting and compliance for private companies
Companies in the Philippines are mandated to secure environmental permits.
Filipino Environmental Planners are more than qualified to assist private companies in obtaining environmental permitting and complying with regulations (Republic Act 10587 Section 5e).
Consultancy for national and local governments
Freelance Filipino Environmental Planners can also provide technical assistance to local governments.
Read: My Professional Career Highlights
PhilGeps is a good starting point for Freelance Filipino Environmental Planners who want to work with government agencies and units.
Funding organizations and institutions like the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, USAID, and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank also have consultancy opportunities for more experienced environmental planners (minimum 10 years of experience).
Join a consultancy firm as a team member
A midway track that freelance Filipino Environmental Planners can take is joining a consultancy firm on a contract basis or project-based basis.
You can build your experience by working with teams of consultants, but you will not be tied to a single consultancy firm.
You can choose your own career path.
There are multiple ways to success.
Becoming a Freelance Filipino Environmental Planner is an option for those who need flexibility. However, freelancing also demands skills and capabilities beyond environmental planning.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,Colossians 3:23
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