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
I’m not leaving the profession until it stops feeding me and there’s a real career alternative.
So in other words, I'm dancin’ wit da one dat brung me!
Thank you Craig. I've harbored the dream for many years to practice LA but have allowed life's realities to stand in the way. At the age of 50--(yeah...slow learner.....) I've decided to take the plunge and will begin a 3 yr MLA program in Florida in June. This hasn't been an easy decision as I will be living 3 hours away from my household and, given the demands of the program, will probably be lucky to make it home for a few days each month. Even though I appreciate the candor, many of these posts were leading me to second guess my decision. Thanks for shifting my focus back into gear.
Glad to help Leslie. I’d also like to add, most of my friends make more money than I do. They have all the trappings of “success”, the mc mansion, the BMW, Rolex watches, yada-yada, but none of them are as happy and youthful as I am. Not one. I believe it’s because I am making a decent living doing something that turns me on. Twenty three years later and I’m still learning and growing as a professional.
LAs are some of the coolest people to be around. I feel we have a certain bond to one another because we’re so misunderstood. The thing I miss the most about going out on my own is being around other LAs. Spend a little time in an LA office and visit a few engineering or accounting firms. The atmosphere is totally different.
I commend you for leaning out and taking a shot at the brass ring. Twenty years from now, you won’t be telling any sad stories of regret. People that live their lives with alligator arms, never reaching out or taking chances usually live pitiful, boring lives. Thank goodness the world isn’t full of “practical” people that emotionlessly adhere to charts and graphs to make life decisions.
Best of luck with your studies.
Go Leslie B! (why doesn't this forum place replies under the post you are replying to?) I will turn 51 in a matter of days and am finishing year 2 of a BLA. I chose to go the post-baccalaureate route for reasons I can share if you are interested. I also commute 95 miles a day round trip via regional transit (a challenge in itself) I would not reccomend it - you are wise to live nearer to school.
There are two other late-boomers that started the program with me: one other post-bac and an MLA. I call us the Three Booms....Boom-Boom-Boom! AndI love my younger classmates to death - they have become like surrogate kids to me - I keep threatening to take them home with me for the weekend so my partner and I can play "parents" for the weekend!
The fact is that the job market for MLAs, as well as others, sucks. It does not mean that the profession is dead. Obviously, the profession is not expanding because development is stagnant. That means that new opportunities for employment is not very widespread.
The idea that an MLA is a big advantage seems like wishful thinking to me. There are just too many experienced people looking for work that are far better suited for project management positions to have MLAs without experience take those positions. BLA/BSLA undegrads are far more geared to studio production than MLAs because that is what they have been doing day in and day out for at least the last three years of their schooling - not going to pay a lesser trained MLA to do what a BLA can do better.
That does not mean that you should not do it or that your individual experience, personal attributes, or efforts can not over come that. It is only to answer the question:
"What is the job market like for an MLA grad"
There is a better than strong likelihood that we will never meet in person. So our probable forum will probably remain here. I read this Lounge, not like a lizard, but frequently. I have always appreciated your moderation in comment and insights into the profession, where it is at, where it is not and where it might be headed. I have not always been so level-headed or cogent. You have. Maybe this next round in China will get me closer to that.
Believe this (and anyone else who reads this) I have made beyond monumental efforts to practice our art, craft, science and world bettering practice in our own country, and I have not broken through the wall. Now it is a thick and reinforced wall. In a not so distant time, I had enough mojo, moxy, credible backing and accomplishments that I was offered a job, on-the-spot, for handsome renumeration and so on. Happened twice. It will not happen again, only in a parallel dimension, if even there.
Again, I go much farther west, kicking and screaming. At least this time, I know full well what to expect and how to best prosper with it all. Simple summary, I spent the last five months here in the greater Pacific Northwest (PNW) trying to find an equal or close to equal job opportunity like has been offfered to me in China. I did get interest and I did get interviews. Suffice it to say, there is a HUGE, no make that, IMMENSE pool of highly under-utilized talent in the planning and design professions floating out there right now, ready to bite at any job prospect with a pulse of possibility,
How ironic and telling that I find my validation 6500 miles away.
When I first started reading this post, I got the feeling I was reading a story like ‘Old Yeller’ or something. I started getting misty eyed. How dramatic can you get?
Count your blessings. You’ve been fortunate enough to have interviews and the ability to traverse the globe to pursue your dreams. There are hundreds of LAs out there that are just as experienced and talented as you are that haven’t even received a reject letter, let alone interviews and job offers. So suck it up life happens to everybody.
Please don’t tell me this episode ends with LP slowly riding off into the sunset with a sad harmonica tune playing.
“That does not mean that you should not do it or that your individual experience, personal attributes, or efforts can not over come that. It is only to answer the question…”
Andrew, once again you’re spot on. One of the reasons I’m so passionate about this subject is, if I had listened to the naysayers when I was younger, I more than likely would have ended up getting a degree in business/finance and going to work as a “suit” at some faceless corporation. That would have been the safe route for me to take.
I heard it all from my college roommate who never used his LA degree saying “You know there’s only one black Landscape Architect in the entire state of Ohio and not even one in the state of Texas” to my professor in my first Architectural design studio telling me I’d never make it as a design professional. I didn’t listen to that crap. No one knows how much heart a person has by just looking at them. And you shouldn’t depend solely on statistics to make a career choice.
Like the title of the book by Gary Coxe says, Don't Let Others Rent Space in Your Head.
Hi Andrew! :)
Other posters have addressed your main question regarding the job market. I wanted to comment on your issue as a fellow "mid career changer" - I will finish up year 2 of my BLA in June. My prior life includes 25 years of work experience in non profits, env. engineering, and law. For reasons I won't bore you with, I opted for a second bachelor's rather than a master's.
I have the same concerns as you regarding the employment situation - our situations are similar in that we already have a work history and skills to fall back on. Only you know your financial situation and how big of a risk you can assume. Ask yourself: "If I earn a MLA, and end up returning to the work I was doing prior to that, can I live with it?" Can you? I finally decided that my situation could assume the risk, and that there were worse things than spending 3 years stretching my mind, jump-starting my creativity, meeting some of the most amazing people I have met in years, and learning a slew of software programs I knew damn well I would not learn unless I had to. If I returned to paralegal work once I graduate....well, I'd probably make a lot more than as a landscape architect anyway, so paying off the student loan is still doable.
Are you dead set on the "I'm hoping to work in a major city for a studio that specializes in large, sustainable public projects" thing? Did you explore alternate paths such as certificates that would add skills to your existing grad degree and get you into something that might not be exactly landscape architecture, but would get you involved with sustainability issues? If you do end up earning the MLA, you might be exposed to some aspect of the profession completely different from your original goal - and you might develop new goals.
Food for thought. Good luck! My first bachelor's is in social work...I had contemplated a grad degree in public administration at one point. But it would have been a disaster - I am not cut out for government work in any way, shape or form.
April it's so nice to hear from someone who can relate to the career transition. Yes! I've definitely searched for alternative routes of education and career paths. I considered going to Yestermorrow school as well but finally decided that the MLA path would be the most stable path financially. What I'm learning from this thread contradicts that.
You were right to turn away from the M.P.A--I'm not cut out for government work either. It really is soul-less and stifling with no room to be creative or even act like a human being. That being said if an M.L.A degree didn't work out I just couldn't fall back on the working situation I find myself in now. It'd be a real leap of faith!!
Thanks so much for your response, it's helpful.
So by now you know you will not be rich by becoming a Landscape Architect. Have you talked to local practicing professionals? Visited their offices and ask this question to them. They will usually give you a good answer for the location you are in.