Correct Initials for a Licensed Landscape Architect

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GENERAL DISCUSSION Correct Initials for a Licensed Landscape Architect

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    Eric Galvin

    I have just finished my LA exams and passed them all in the state of Virginia. I have received my license number and now im updating my files to change my signature, but…. i dont know what to change it too! I am the only landscape architect in my office, so i have no one here to question. What initials do you use after your name? Is it RLA (registered LA) CLA (certified) or is it just plain LA? Thanks for any help!

    Chris Whitted

    Bottom line, there is no ‘correct’ set of initials.  The two most common are R(egistered)LA and P(racticing)LA.  The only way there would be a correct set is if your state’s title/practice act spells it out, and most don’t.  I started a thread on this a while back and one of the responses is very in depth:

    Eric Galvin

    Thank you very much, just what i was looking for! Thats a great conversation on the topic


    Hello Eric;

    I have recently read that ASLA is pushing “PLA” to be used.  But, there is a LOT of resistance against using this term after the name of a licensed Landscape Architect.

    I’m really not sure IF some states mandate HOW you handle that…I would recommend you just check with the Virginia State Board of Landscape Architects and get their input on this issue.

    For the over 30 yrs. I was licensed (in several states) I used “LA” after my name.  On your business cards, may I suggest that you be sure to write out your TITLE “Registered Landscape Architect”, “Professional Landscape Architect”, OR “Licensed Landscape Architect”…which ever one you end up going with.  On mine (in the past), I used to also show “State of Texas #815”.

    And……..CONGRATS on passing your LA exams and GOOD LUCK to you…I hope you have a very successful design career!


    J. Robert (Bob) Wainner


    Wyatt Thompson, PLA

    Congratulations, Eric. I use PLA – Professional Landscape Architect – and ASLA. This is what ASLA is promoting, and I see no reason in my case not use it. The argument from ASLA (one of them atleast) is that the P puts our title in the same category as Professional Engineers. I don’t know that PLA yet denotes the same level of recognition and respect as the PE post-nominal letters, but I honestly don’t think RLA does either. In Missouri there were specific licensure laws that have prevented adoption of PLA (something ASLA should have researched and known about), so definitely check your state’s regulations to make sure you don’t run afoul of the law.

    Robert Anderson


    Congratulations on passing the exam and welcome to the ranks of “Registered Landscape Architects”! I have been practicing in Virginia and licensed or certified, depending on the decade in Virginia since 1998. Per the current legislation your seal should read “Landscape Architect”. As to the initials, it’s my opinion that using RLA, rides on the coattails of our “Architecture” brethren and is easily recognizable by others in the industry.


    Pla is most commonly used in co. I thought this was resolved a couple yrs ago.

    Personally i prefer the old rla, for the same reasons others have mentioned.

    Eric Galvin

    Thanks! Its a crazy subject and its amazing that we dont have a standard. It seems like just using LA is most appropriate since you have to be registered/licensed to even use the title LA (for both states that have title and/or practice acts) so the R, P, etc, proceeding LA seem unnecessary.

    Eric Galvin

    Thanks! Happy to be joining the ranks of the licensed. Its interesting to compare it to Architects and not engineers, the ASLA idea of using PLA to compare to engineers is the other way to look at it. Glad that ASLA is taking a stance on it, but it will be interesting to see how it works out. So far im using RLA as well.

    Tosh K

    See ‘Rationale’ section for detailed explanation as to why the ASLA is pushing for PLA.  I’ve heard through the grapevine that it also had few conflicts in the 50 states when vetted and in states with issues the legal issues seemed resolvable.

    Jason T. Radice

    I’m still using the RLA moniker, as I don’t agree with the logic of PLA. Nobody outside a few people in the profession knows what it means, and it isn’t tied to anything like a proper title of PE, which is what it was based on. PE is a LEGAL abbreviation of title, PLA is not. RA is generally a legal abbreviation of title, RLA is generally a legal abbreviation of title, but had been the defacto initials of the majority when the practice laws were instituted differently across the country. From what I have read about Virginia, there is not one official designation as to initials, only the full title, so you can use whatever you want. RLA, PLA, LLA…whatever.

    I would opt for RLA, as it the most recognized and the PLA really doesn’t mean anything and has no history.  

    Alan Ray, RLA

    My seal in Tennessee, where I do most of my work, says “Registered Landscape Architect”.

    So, I use RLA for that reason.

    I could care less what ASLA wants….

    Eric Galvin

    Virginia says “Licensed Landscape Architect. I thought hard about using LLA for that reason, but it seems its just not used by most in the community, and its not even easily understood by many LAs who just dont care. Whatever happened in the process of making Practice Acts and Title acts is so odd, and it would be nice if it didnt take an act of congress (somewhat sarcasm) to get it standardized.


    No one called me up and asked me what I thought about it, so I’m an RLA. People are confused enough about our profession. The last thing we need is the ASLA screwing with things. 

    Andrew Garulay, RLA


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