Dave Berglind
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Career Change at 43...
2 Replies

Copying Gia's title after finding these forums and reading through her post with interest since I have been having similar thoughts.I have been in the landscape industry for 25 years. I worked for a…Continue

Started this discussion. Last reply by Dave Berglind Jul 10.


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At 11:39pm on July 7, 2017, J. Robert Wainner said…

Hello Dave;

First.....be sure to read all of the comments that were written about "Gia's" situation....as she too is strongly considering going for MLA (at age 41). Many of those comments should be helpful to YOU too.

The difference between our situation & her's, I believe, is that she has a strong background with "computer software design programs".  But, you should be able to get up to speed with autoCAD, Sketchup, etc. in a good MLA program.  I looked at the courses in the University of Minnesota's MLA program.....it looks like a really well designed degree program....a good variety of courses that you'll need.  And really, I think you HAVE to have that MLA degree to even get an "interview" and a "job" with an LA firm.

I would recommend you go ahead and complete your Horticulture undergraduate degree ASAP.  I looked at The University of Minnesota...not sure if they have a "Horticulture Degree Program"...that's compatible with the semester hours (and courses you have already taken)...I would think that University is going to be your best situation.

Also, I did see that The University of Minnesota has a solid (3) year MLA program.  It would most likely have you in a full-time situation...so, there is the likelyhood of not working for 3 yrs...the cost of the the 3 yr. MLA program...and related living expenses.

Graduating at age 46 is not a bad thing.  I would think you would then need...5 to 7 good years in a "design studio"...at a good size Landscape Architecture firm.  Learn as much as you possibly can during those 5 to 7 years......then, evaluate where you are. 

You could remain with that LA firm and gain additional experience.....or go out on your own.. establish either a LA "design only" firm OR possibly go with a "Landscape Design Build Company"....both would get you out of the field and in an office situation.

Getting solid LA experience (and developing an outstanding "Design Portfolio"...that could include photos of projects you were involved with over the past 25 years.  Having that undergraduate degree in Horticulture, then the (3) MLA degree should help you get your foot in a good LA firm. But, know going in, a vast majority of LA firms are really only looking to hire "production" LAs....not "designers".  But, the place you will really learn "design" will be in a good LA firm....you really only learn the "basics" in a University.

I personally believe it's important to get established....get as much experience and knowledge as an LA before age 50.  And, if you plan ahead.....and try to go out on your own in your early 50's....you'll do MUCH better financially than if you're designing for an LA firm.

Well, nothing is for sure in this World...but, if you can manage the "time" off and the cost of earning that MLA....and really put in the effort....I don't see why you could make this all work for you.


J. Robert (Bob) Wainner


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