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

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums EDUCATION Anyone know what the job market is like for an MLA grad?

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    April Prey

    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!


    Jason Granado

    one nice thing about the design field in academia is that you dont always need to be holding that elusive PHD. have your MLA a good portfolio and a few competition wins and you’ll  be just as good as a phd candidate. the PHD always help though.

    If work is not near you, get near the work.(if you can) there is a few jobs here in DC area

    I am a second year MLA student with a undergrad in architecture

    Jason T. Radice

    You pretty much need a PhD for anything other than an adjunct nowandays even with academia. Which means you will still need another job besides. Its about “how many PhDs per student” stats, not the qualifications of the professors.

    I agree in trying to get where a large concentration of LA offices are. DC has a ton (mostly around Alexandria, VA) and of course, NYC. If you are already in the region, you stand a much better chance of getting an interview. Many firms seem to only be hiring local as the need for bodies comes just as quickly as it leaves.

    Brian Y

    Hmm, I actually know plenty of assistant and associate profs. who only have MLAs (though generally post-prof., so MLA IIs or MLAUD). What they’ve told me is that you really have to have breadth in your very specific area of focus, so having publications (this seems to be key), having competitions under your belt, working for a firm, having teaching experience (and not simply TAships).

    Heather Smith

    I agree…most have their masters. I believe only one of my profs had a doctorate and that was in GIS.

    Mark Miller

    There is truth in all these replies, It’s a great industry when the economy at it’s fighting weight, but it’s been real crummy for the past three years.

    Here’s something to consider though:

    1) I’m an LA with three years of experience struggling to to find work and keep my skills sharp

    2) If you go to school now you’ll be getting some real sharp skills, probably sharper than mine

    3) we’ll essentially be competing for the same jobs, but you’ll have sharp skills and be more of a true entry level, thus illiciting less money, while I’ll be a non-true entry level with less sharp skills and places will think I want more money… who’s gonna get hired?

    SOOOO if I (or anyone else for that matter) Discourage you from going into the field, it’s reducing the job pool by that much more, thus making it easier for me to then land that job when it finally does become available.

    So with that in mind….

    DON’T DO IT!


    It’s never gonna bounce back, why bother….

    Although I really enjoy it.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    Will an MLA have sharper skills? … if the latest technology and use of it is the difference  in skill set, the BLA will beat the MLA. Will many LA offices keep up on the latest technology? Is a more mature person who has gone through desparation be a more motivated member of the team than someone emerging from the cacoon of school?


    I don’t know, but things are not always so cut and dry.


    I just moved back to CA from Athens, GA because my wife finished vet-school at UGA.  Before the initial collapse I postponed my LARC career in the private office so she could return to school.  When we returned to the country and moved to GA several colleagues were out of work and some for over a year by then.

    As for Athens, take note that Atlanta, GA has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation.  One hour away, Athens does receive extra income as a college town but the region is not growing.  It was bad enough that LA students at UGA could not find free internships for school credit. 

    A large part of the population went back to school once everyone realized this was going to be a long dry spell.  When looking to leave a stressful, non-exciting, desk job, several thought Landscape would be fun and colorful.  Instead they found a stressful, sometimes exciting, desk job…but of course, if they found a job.

    The colorful master plans everyone plasters to advertise is simply a marketing tool.  Many outside the profession don’t realize the colored renderings are to drum up public support and finances and are often a far cry from the finished product (think “concept cars”).  They have to be created because few people can correctly read a set of construction plans.  Nothing would get built if we relied on cd’s to secure funding and gain name recognition.

    Our profession is currently undergoing a dramatic definition change fueled by so many people in related fields and others doing anything they can to survive.  No one bails water faster in a sinking boat than a scared sailor.  Those who realize it’s changing will be ahead of the curve and prosper.  The others will either retire out, fall to the wayside, or look for jobs within the competition. 

    This is not a time for a career change into Landscape.  However, a newbie coming in looking for a first career will have the time and more likely to have the lower financial req’s (i.e. kids, second car payment, mortgage, addt’l school loans, etc.) and be able to ride out the slow economy.


    Education Ourselves Into Shackles?

    “There’s a cancer that threatens to poison the global economic recovery, and it’s not Europe or the housing market. It comes, in fact, from the very thing that’s supposed to elevate our populace and our economy: graduate school.”…

    Kim Romano

    Throwing caution to the wind and heading to UT this summer to begin an MLA program!  




    A very wise choice as I commented before. I have  been following employment downside trends in our profession for enough time now, and so have others here, to tell you that you will be in one of the few states that actually has apparently had enough of an economy that is still breathing oxygen and, therefore creating jobs in the design professions. Your graduation might actually happen on the upside trend and you will find job prospects even better by that time. Good luck. If you can afford to, live in the downtown area, you won’t regret that locational choice.


    Sadly, I feel you have not really grasped the reality and magnitude of what this profession has endured over the past five years.  I honestly hope you gathered real world information about the current and future state of the industry from others outside academia.  Did you not read the posts on this forum stating the plain facts about this profession falling off a cliff?  It may take a decade or more for the industry to recover to pre-recession (depression) levels.  When you graduate, you will be competing against other MLAs and BLAs with decades of experience who will work for entry level dollars just to feed their families.  It’s happening now and will for many years to come. 

    Along with throwing caution to the wind, you might as well throw your money into the wind as well.   I wish you luck but you have my sympathies. 

    Kim Romano

    You have my sympathies too earthworker.


    Earthworker wrote the type of reply I was actually going to write to you myself, but, in a rare moment of indecision, I decided to keep mine decidely upbeat. All the points Earthworker raises are undeniably and irrevocably true. You can chose to inhale whatever reality warping and mind altering compounds that make up the rarified air you seem to be now breathing. A very reliable and sound reference I have gone to time and again is the economist Paul Krugman of the NYT.  Not to long ago, he was referring to this long passage we are going through as the “Great Desperation”. He has now moved to a new moniker, “The Lesser Depression”.

    Select either reference point or come up with your own. Sure thing, follow your passion, your heart, your noble motives and so and so forth. Better yet, first year at U of T, change your major to something you can probably find a job and make a self-supportive living in a couple of years, Accounting and Software Engineering come immediately to mind. Anything health-care related is very fungible right now and will continue to be. Final advice, avoid Facebook stock shares at all costs.


    Honestly, my comments are only meant to help you.  The truth is I and many of the la’s laid off with me are on the brink of losing everything.  We barely make our mortgages and put food on the table.  The longer this depression goes on, the more I realize that it is nearly impossible to support a family and work in this industry. There is no consistency with our profession.  Every 7-10 years or so you have to start over somewhere new.  This could mean moving where the job is.  It’s hard to do when you have a house, wife and kids which means you are stuck where you have put down roots.

    The industry is great if you are young, have no house, spouse or children.  You can move anywhere you want and work for low pay.  But if you ever want to settle down, this profession will be a liability.  Don’t get me wrong I love what I do/did but it has not been kind to me.  It will take from you as quickly as it gives.

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