Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects › Forums › EDUCATION › Anyone know what the job market is like for an MLA grad?
- This topic has 1 reply, 26 voices, and was last updated 10 years, 3 months ago by earthworker.
March 22, 2012 at 4:24 pm #158128
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
-KimMarch 22, 2012 at 5:32 pm #158275earthworkerParticipant
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.March 22, 2012 at 5:33 pm #158274
Oh Earthworker I am so sorry to hear that. You sound like me with my M.P.A degree….March 22, 2012 at 6:02 pm #158273
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.March 22, 2012 at 7:06 pm #158272Tosh KParticipant
Have you asked the recent grads from those schools? The upper tier east coast school grads (from schools I have contacts with) are at about 50% employment in the profession, another 25% in a related line of work.March 22, 2012 at 8:13 pm #158271Jason T. RadiceParticipant
Keep in mind, If you are lucky enough to even get an job, you are starting over. Unlike many careers, the design professions are not ones that you can just slide into at the same level you were by getting yet another degree; there is an apprenticeship aspect to it. you will be green and need to learn the profession from the ground up. This, of course, also means you will be earning an entry level salary. You might have better luck with a pubic sector career, given you have experience and an admin degree to back you up, but that does not translate well to the private sector. Good luck.March 22, 2012 at 8:54 pm #158270
I haven’t found a way to ask them actually. I’ve made some cold calls and emails to firms in NYC (where I live) and they were a little vague about the job outlook. Mostly they said it was grim right now, but should pick up in a few years. Thanks!March 22, 2012 at 8:54 pm #158269
Thank you.March 22, 2012 at 9:41 pm #158268AnonymousInactive
“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.March 22, 2012 at 10:29 pm #158267AnonymousInactive
Kim I’m going to be honest with you. Landscape Architecture has a high rate of attrition in a good economy. Right now it’s almost impossible to make a living as an LA. The key word is almost. With the right combination of attitude, skill, location, friends and breaks the profession can feed you. Your chances of making it are as good with Landscape Architecture as they are with most professions right now.
So until someone offers something better than not continuing your studies and doing nothing or going into IT, Medicine, Mortuary Sciences, blah, blah, blah, I suggest you do what you’re passionate about. If you’ve been following threads on the LA employment outlook, one thing you’ll notice is that nobody’s made any realistic suggestions for career alternatives.
The profession was booming before the collapse. I just can’t understand why people feel the prospects for LAs won’t improve when business in general picks up. It’s not like all of a sudden the profession has become as unessential as lets say…wheelwrights.March 22, 2012 at 10:33 pm #158266mauiBobParticipant
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.March 22, 2012 at 11:36 pm #158265AnonymousInactive
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.March 23, 2012 at 12:41 am #158264
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.March 23, 2012 at 1:24 pm #158263
All of this feed back has been really helpful and may influence my decision to not to do this, due to the financial struggle it will likely bring about. On the other hand, it’s encouraging to see that the field draws such dedicated and passionate people.March 23, 2012 at 3:04 pm #158262
Just add “landscape” before architecture and you have your answer right here.
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