Anyone know what the job market is like for an MLA grad?

I'm a mid-career professional thinking of going back to school and getting an MLA.  It'd be a major lateral transition in my career but I am so attracted to this field and it's a much better fit for me than public administration (my current job)

I've been accepted to University of Georgia and University of Texas at Austin.  But lately my enthusiasm has been tempered  by the posts that I've read on some forums here about scare LArch jobs.  It sounds pretty dire. Anyone think the job market will see an uptick in a few years?  I'm hoping to work in a major city for a studio that specializes in large, sustainable public projects.  Thanks!xo


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I have been waiting for the industry to 'uptick' for three years.  I wouldn't bet on it getting better in the next two.  Don't waste your time and money on this career path.  The utter collapse of this industry has nearly cost me everything.  Don't let this happen to you. 

Oh Earthworker I am so sorry to hear that.  You sound like me with my M.P.A degree....

I would second, even third Earthworkers comments. All the design professions have been hammered from the Great Recession or Reset or Great Desperation, take your pick. There has been a complete seismic shift in our national and global economy. We are in for an ongoing de-leveraging, and downscaling.

Measurable and improved conditions to anything related to new construction/redevelopment-infill/rehabilitation, will be in the forms of aberrations, hiccups and fits and starts in the immediate years to come.

As I commented to someone else in this forum who was contemplating an MLA, the financial obligations in doing so need to be carefully weighed against where you will find yourself two plus years from now. Yes, you will have an advanced degree (by then two) and you will be still dealing with the collective design professions continuing to have double-digit unemployment. Unless you have a couple of years of solid design office experience under your waistband, you will be no better off with an MLA, trust us on that one.

If you are hellbent on the MLA and can't be talked out of it, go to Austin. At least Texas continues to be one of the few states (the others being in the mid-atlantic and midwest) that did not got get completely crushed in the housing collapse and are still producing jobs, of which some are design based or driven. Who knows if that will be the case two years from now.

The only two sectors of this recent (over the last year or so) and current economy that were/are producing new and respectable job growth were digital based, health care and energy. Health care has started to fade big time, look it up. Hospitals and large health care conglomerates are laying off, first left and right will follow soon.

As my detractors here are aware of, I chose to take job as an landscape architect and urban designer in China in order to get through this downturn, thinking it would pass like a bad storm does. I was badly mistaken. I actually returned to the US in November of last year to deal with a personal family matter and decided to stay and aggressively attack the very limited and highly competitive job market in our fields here in the Pacific Northwest and the greater West.

The result, I leave again for China next week. More on that ongoing misadventure later. Detractors, you will not be disappointed.

“The only two sectors of this recent (over the last year or so) and current economy that were/are producing new and respectable job growth were digital based, health care and energy.”


You said it.

I agree with about 90% of what Landplanner wrote, except for the healthcare comment. From my view and understanding, there's no downside to healthcare industry. They can't find enough RNs to fill open positions in U.S. hospitals. And computer programmers are a hot bed. If you can write app codes, some start-up firm somewhere will hire you. Anyway...


Landscape architecture? Puhlease. You need to seriously do some soul searching and visit a few LA studios if you get the chance. "Large sustainable public projects" are far and few. The mistake most people make who desire to enter this profession is that they will create those awesome, rendered master plans they see so often. Look in the Gallery section of Land8 for examples. If they don't have a built work of that project, then chances are it will always be just a colorful concept plan. From my experience: about 80% of landscape architecture is in the details, working on construction documents and not coloring, fancy image boards or plans. When I worked for a couple of large private firms, many of the grand master plans never made it beyond conceptual stage. Or if it did, it was broken down into construction phases or drastically altered due to project cost. Many of those plans and perspectives are also done by illustrators for who are not LAs.

This phenomenon occurs during school too. I hear about it all the time. During my first year in school, we had some 40 students who wanted to change the world. Many were drawn into the career because of the environmental activism notion or thinking of how fun it would be to draw and color large scale plans for a living or work strictly with plant materials. By the second year, when the "real" landscape architecture courses started, more than 2/3 dropped out. Don't make that mistake. I'm not discouraging anyone from entering this profession, but to just open your eyes wide and to look before you leap. If you pursue this MLA route, I think your dual degrees best fit for public work.

And I think this topic is discussed once a month. Someone always posses this question or ask which University is best to attend, etc.

Hey Maui Bob:


Here is the other 10% you did not buy into with the other 90% that you did.

This investment advice is free of charge this time. If your enlarging your stock portfolio

with more health care related picks, stop doing it now. It would be as foolish as buying

more gold futures right now, but you already know the latter tip.

This is fresh information, I hope the link works.


I also uploaded a .pdf that gives you the statistical analysis side of my point in case the article

is not persuasive enough.




LP, always remember: "Statistics are like a bikini. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital." We just happen to read different reports. Have fun in China.

Landplanner – I gave you props in some other thread for staying light on your feet and shifting to plan B. I salute you for following your dream even if it means traveling to the other side of the planet. I hope plan C (or D?) works out for you. I’m on plan B and contemplating plan C, but all of my plans right now relate to Landscape Architecture. I’d move to Antarctica to continue practicing. Hang in there.

Landplanner; I too did similar, contact me if you haven't already shoved off for Asia on your second tour of duty.  rivlin @ (Pacific Northwest has some life to it)

Landscape planner, I would like to know more about your Landscape Architecture job in China. I've noticed more job posts for entry level positions in China. What are your thoughts on the jobs out there and your experience? I graduated with a BA in LA, but I have not yet taken a job in this field since graduation. I have been thinking of applying for jobs in China, but I am not sure whether the decision of going to the other side of the world would be a good idea. Any info would be gladly appreciated!

I have a classmate that just took a job in China!

If possible, could you find out what their experience has been like so far? Thanks!




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