Landscape Architect Salaries

This topic contains 23 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  J. Robert (Bob) Wainner 1 week, 2 days ago.

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  • #3557943

    OK, it’s now 2019. I’ve done a little research on-line trying to get a handle on what Landscape Architect’s salaries are these days.

    There has been a lot of talk in the news lately about “free college educations”…and college graduates with huge college loan debts they can pay off. Is the COST of a a 4 or 5 year LA degree really worth it?

    On PayScale.com…I read that “Entry Level” Landscape Architects are being paid $45,200.00 or approx. $20.74 per hour. Well, if you consider some politicians in America are pushing for a $15 per hour minimum wage (for unskilled labor jobs)…that sure makes an entry level LA job pay look VERY LOW. I’ve seen LA jobs for Entry Level even lower…at $37,000.00. A Design-Build Co. here in the Dallas, Texas area has posted an AD for a “Landscape Architect” – salary of $40,000.00 (and this company has no other LAs). In my professional opinion, that inexperienced LA will seriously struggle working for a company that has no experienced LAs to mentor him/her…that LA will be totally lost and the Co. Owner won’t understand why he/she doesn’t know what they’re doing.

    I saw an AD for an LA posted on INDEED.com…must have 3-5 yrs. exp. (salary is $50k).

    We also have to consider the city, State….location of the LA job. IMO, an LA position in say California or NY probably won’t pay much higher than the rest of the Country. But, in those 2 States, you have to deal with the very high cost of living and high State income taxes.

    And, as I have mentioned on other threads here on LAND 8…..The U.S. Bureau of Statistics states that the profession of Landscape Architecture will grow at ONLY 6% over the next 10 years. Meaning only 1,600 new jobs will created for LAs in the next 10 years. There are approx. 75 U.S. Universities that offer LA degree programs (4 or 5 year & MLA programs)…undergraduate classes for those 75 Universities have 30 to 60 graduates per year. So, I’m wondering where all those LA graduates will get an LA job???

    So, considering some of the issues I have learned in my recent research…..I’m wondering if pursuing a career in Landscape Architecture is going to be attractive to high school graduates going forward.

    And, no, I don’t believe that every high school graduate is entitled to a FREE college education. For one, not every HS graduate should attend a University. There are many other professions to pursue that do not require a college degree. And, the college drop-out rate is pretty high. Are those drop-outs going to reimburse the U.S. Gov’t if they only attend a 4 yr. degree program for 1 or 2 years?

    I’m wondering what other LA graduates (regardless of where you are in your LA career) think about SALARIES for Landscape Architects. Is the direction of the Landscape Architecture profession in the right direction?

    J. Robert (Bob) Wainnner

    #3558131

    Tim Daugherty
    Participant

    Semantics, but I’d dispute the notion of only 1,600 new jobs based on a 6% growth rate (put in context with number of graduating students with LA degrees). This discounts all the positions that open due to attrition….people retiring, changing careers, getting promoted, etc. Assuming someone practiced 40 years, from age 25 to 65, that would translate to 25% of ALL LA positions cycling out every 10 years. A number that would be significantly higher than 1600.

    #3558132

    Well, I tend to believe…that the U.S. Bureau of Statistics who make these job forecasts don’t just pull a figure out of the sky; they most likely use a wide variety of factors or criteria in reaching their conclusions.

    So, I think the U.S. Bureau of Statistics took into account…issues like people changing career paths, LAs losing their jobs, LAs who retire, etc.

    As I mentioned before…just think of 75 U.S. University LA degree programs with say, 30 to 50 graduates EVERY year. So, let’s say, approx. 2,500 graduates nation wide annually x 10 yrs. equals approx. 25,000 LAs searching for a job. But, the Bureau is saying, there’s going to be ONLY 1,600 LA job opening over the next 10 years. HOW, do we account for the 23,400 jobs gap? Surely, there aren’t that many LAs retiring, getting fired or changing to a different career.

    And, IMO, I don’t believe that ASLA.org is doing their part to “Market” our profession…tell the World WHO we are and WHAT we do (offer). Trust me, a majority of Americans have never even heard of a “Landscape Architect”. Additionally, IMO, I don’t believe the mostly Liberal LA professors are doing their students a service by NOT properly preparing those LA graduates for the “real world of Landscape Architecture”. Too many LA professors are teaching pie in the sky, philosophical (sustainability, new green deal) type issues…pushing their own ideological agendas on their young students. They need to be SURE these LA grads have a strong understanding of what LA firms are expecting. Maybe LA programs should invite LA professionals from top LA firms to visit their Universities to speak to the Senior classes…give them a sense of what REAL LA firms are all about and what they tend to look for in new young hires.

    I recall about 5 yrs. ago, reading on-line that entire LA graduating classes (I believe they were the U. of Georgia and U. of Maryland)…both about 50 graduating seniors…none could find an entry level LA job. One female grad wrote, she had been searching for an LA entry level job for 4 full years, with no luck. Well, I think we ALL realize our overall economy is better now. The GDP during Obama’s 8 yrs. in office never reached 3% (it was 1.6% to 2.6%. The GDP every month this year (2019) has been running above 3%. Maybe, hopefully, that will mean more LA job openings?!

    As I also mentioned above & in another thread…yes, there are several LA jobs listed on LAND 8’s job board…but, look WHERE those jobs are located. Most are in California, New York or other high cost of living areas…and CA and NY have State Income Taxes. IMO, an LA job in those areas would be a very challenging location to begin an LA career or even for an LA with 10 plus yrs. of experience to cope with.

    So, assuming that the U.S. Bureau of Statistics info. is accurate, that the long term job outlook for LAs in the U.S. is only 6% (or 1,600 job openings) from 2016 to 2026…does not look to me like a GOOD future for the Landscape Architecture profession.

    I know of an INDEED LA job blog that’s been running now for about 10 yrs…there are a TON of very frustrated LA’s comments on that blog. Many wishing they had never become an LA and encouraging young people to NOT consider Landscape Architecture as a career.

    So, I really feel for the many LA students…working so hard @ their University LA programs for a 4 or 5 yr. LA degree….only to graduate to face uncertainty in the job market.

    J. Robert (Bob) Wainner

    #3558146

    Tim Daugherty
    Participant

    But I don’t think that is how the Bureau Labor statistics work (which may or may not be relevant to your position BTW). If there are currently 24,700 LA jobs (year 2016), and there is 6% growth over 10 years (1600 jobs), that means there will be 26,300 LA jobs in 2016. This does not account for “positions” created by attrition…it’s growth over the baseline. Put another way, if there was 0% growth outlook, that doesn’t mean no one could get a job for the next decade. In theory, a new position would open every time someone retired or left the industry (and promotions occurred).

    Incidentally, it’s also worth pointing out the average growth outlook for all jobs is 7%. So LA’s are on the wrong side of the average, but is it really THAT dire? Architects are at 4%. Interestingly enough Urban Planners are at 13% – and many start in Landscape Architecture so a possible re-direct?

    #3558147

    Well, the “job market” really no longer is an issue for me…..but, I do find it fascinating, yet also concerning for younger LA Grads.

    Tim….let’s look at the numbers once again. The U.S. Bureau of Statistics says…Landscape Architect jobs will grow at a rate of 6% over the next 10 years (or, 1,600 TOTAL NEW JOBS in that 10 year period). SO, what that means is a TOTAL of ONLY (160) PER YEAR new LA jobs over the next 10 years….nationwide. NOT that large number you stated.

    As I mentioned….there are about 70 U.S. University LA degree programs (with 30 to 50 LA grads every year). So, IF we used the lower figure of 30 LA grads per class…that’s about 21,000 graduates over the next 10 years……that’s 2,100 LA graduates per year (minimum), BUT, only about 160 job openings each year….leaving @ least 2,000 LA grads per year with ZERO job opportunities. And, that’s assuming LA graduation classes ONLY have 30 students…most have 50 or even 60 graduates. Plus, there are, I believe 5 major Canadian Universities with LA degree programs…those grads may also be searching for jobs in the U.S.

    I realize that the outlook for Architect jobs is not good….but, personally, I never would have wanted to get into Land Planning OR even go work for a CE firm and provide autoCAD services. I was fortunate to have been able to gain 14 yrs. of exp. working for 2 different LA firms after graduation…then, at age 41, established my own LA private practice.

    I still believe the LA profession’s future does not look very promising…..even though our economy these days has improved considerably.

    #3558148

    Tim Daugherty
    Participant

    Sorry, you’re interpreting the data incorrectly. There are not 160 job openings each year – there are 160 NEW job opening each year in addition to job openings due to attrition.

    If there are 10 apples on a table (10 jobs) and each time I eat 1 apple (retirement/attrition) they replace it with 1 new apple, that is 0% growth. And yet there is a new position for a fresh young apple every time I eat an old one.

    If you want to know how many job openings there are each year you need to know the attrition rate. Retirement alone would be 2.5% – and that is assuming everyone worked 40 years (haha). This equates to 600 leaving and 600 entering each year…and that is would be 0% growth. This doesn’t include other forms of attrition – people changing careers, becoming full time parent, etc. Adjust for how many are entry level positions. Add the 160. This is the number of positions the 2100 students are wrestling for.

    #3558149

    OK, it’s seems MY math and yours’, Tim don’t really mesh here.

    My way of looking @ this is…..The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that from 2016 to 2026, there will be ONLY a 6% increase in LA jobs (or a TOTAL over those 6 years of ONLY 1,600 job openings).

    I understand people retiring, changing careers, dropping out of the work force to have and raise a child, etc…but, I tend to believe the U.S. Bureau of Statistics takes these factors and more into account when they put together their projected figures.

    OK….so, let’s for example take just (5) of the (70) U.S. Universities that have Landscape Architecture Degree Programs in the U.S. That’s approx. 160 LA graduates per YEAR or equal to the number of jobs per yr. projected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. So now, I’m looking at (65) U.S. Universities x a min. of 30 LA graduates per year OR a TOTAL of 1,950 LA graduates every year with ZERO LA job opportunities. I don’t see where you get an apples to apples comparison here…..using my analysis above, there will be a MAJOR SHORTAGE of LA jobs in America every year over the next 10 years.

    If I were a High School Senior, and I knew this information…..there’s NO WAY I would consider studying Landscape Architecture. Besides, starting SALARIES are really quite LOW. I believe most entry level LA salaries run approx. $45k per year or less then $25 per hour. Compare that to the NEW proposed $15 per hour Federal Minimum Hourly Rate that Liberals are proposing…and for LA’s that means paying for and going to a University to study Landscape Architecture for 4 to 5 years.

    I really takes almost 10 years in the LA profession to make a really descent salary. In my case, I was in private practice @ 2 LA firms for 13 years (plus, had 2 years worth of over-time)…then, went out on my own @ age 41 (took 2 full years to get my LA practice up and running)….so, I was 43 years old before I began earning serious money as an LA. I know every LA’s situation varies. But, I had to seriously work my A$$ off for approx. 16 yrs. and IMO, a LOT of the millennials these days, just don’t have the “work ethic” my generation had/has. Many of them wish for a FREE college education….yeah, and I wish to be President Of The United States too. I served 4 years in the U.S. Navy, partly so that I could get the educational benefits of the G.I. Bill to go to college after my 4 years of military service…and even that was only about $400 per month while I was in college @ Texas A&M University (not nearly enough $$$ to cover all of my expenses…rent, food, utilities, automobile, etc…it was a 4 year struggle (and my wife had a full time job those 4 years). IMO, about 50% of current University students have no business even being in college. Well, higher education is normally considered a good thing…but, U.S. tax payers shouldn’t have to pay for it.

    So….I’ll say it once again, I just don’t believe the outlook for the Landscape Architecture profession looks very good. Way too many LA graduates and not nearly enough job opportunities. And, those that can’t find a job, can’t just start their own LA practice…that doesn’t work. LA grads need, IMO, a minimum of 5 to 8 yrs. exp. working for an established Landscape Architecture Firm…learn the business, learn design process designing on a wide variety of REAL WORLD projects. Then, for ANY new start-up company….regardless of how much $$$ you have, experience or how much you market, it really does take a minimum of (2) full years to get that start-up company u and running….to the point you can make a living wage off of it.

    So, to ALL of the future LA Graduates….all I can say is GOOD LUCK with your LA career…it won’t be easy!!!

    #3558198

    Ellen Rita Hu
    Participant

    So what are all those people who majored in landscape architecture doing?

    #3558226

    Anonymous

    It seems at least one here is dedicating his time to crushing the dreams and aspirations of young LAs and advancing his political agenda…

    #3558227

    Give me break, Jeff…..there’s no political agenda here. I ONLY stated the facts.
    SO….YOU tell Ellen and other young LA graduates….WHERE are they going to find a job in Landscape Architecture after they spent 4 to 5 years working for that LA Degree???

    Oh, I know, maybe they could go overseas to say, KUWAIT, because, they can’t find a job in the United States!!!

    #3558228

    Tim Daugherty
    Participant

    I don’t know about a political agenda – but definitely not facts. You don’t understand basic attrition rates in employment. Again, 0% growth rate would equate to 600 professional retiring each year and 600 people moving up the food chain – including entry level positions opening. (24,000 LA’s, working 40 years is 24K/40 = 600). And that is conservative attrition rates, as people change careers, move out of country, etc.).

    Even your source states the LA growth rate is normal and in line with the broader industry. Quote on growth rate for LA’s “As Fast as Average -Employment of landscape architects is projected to grow 4 percent from 2018 to 2028, about as fast as the average for all occupations.”

    #3558231

    Yes, I DO understand what “attrition rates” mean. But, NOW look at what the U.S. Bureau of Statistic is saying……that the LA profession will grow at a rate of only 4% (NOT 6%) between 2018 and 2028….or a total of 1,000 LA job openings during that 10 yr. period. So, it appears the U.S. Bureau of Statistics have LOWERED the job outlook for LAs, even though they state this is normal job growth.

    But, I tend to believe that when the U.S. Bureau of Statistics puts out those job growth numbers….that they take into account “attrition rates”…they have to know a certain percentage of workers in EVERY profession will retire, switch professions or stop working for whatever reason. I just think that none of us really understand HOW the Bureau goes about calculating those job growth numbers.

    No matter HOW you figure attrition rates…..ONLY 100 LA job openings in the U.S. each year is not very many, IMO.

    As I mentioned before, there are approx. (75) U.S. Universities with LA degree programs…so, approx. 40 to 50 LA graduates graduating EVERY year x 75 equals at least 3,000 LA grads. Again, thinking about the “attrition rate” issue…I seriously doubt there are going to be anywhere near 3,000 active LA’s just retire, quit, change professions, etc.

    Also, I just read that an economic expert stated that here in the U.S., we have a “recession” about every 11 yrs…so, in spite of our current strong economy, sort of looks like we may be looking at another recession before long. If that comes into play, that will hurt the LA job situation even more so. Guess we’ll all see.

    #3558232

    Tim Daugherty
    Participant

    No, they don’t take into account attrition rates. You’re conflating growth with job openings. You can have 0% growth, and there will still be job openings at the entry level.

    #3558233

    Anonymous

    Bitter Bob strikes again.
    It is as if you are compensated for stirring the pot around here.
    That, or you need hobbies, clients, or retirement 🙂

    Anyhow, working abroad is a one of the best gigs around. There are many places around the globe where our skills are in demand. The projects and compensation make it a very interesting opportunity. Working in the US is fine too and there are plenty of opportunities available currently, though I suspect that will be changing rapidly over the next 18 months.

    #3558234

    Jeff…I suggest you show a bit more “professionalism” here on LAND 8 Forums….name calling, really? And no, I don’t have problems even at my age getting design work. I just recently completed extensive design services for a 25,000 sq. ft. Luxury residence in Tennessee…the home Owner is a current ball player in Major League Baseball.

    And, as for overseas LA jobs, if I were an LA considering that…I would highly recommend they do a TON of research. As you know, there is a LOT of issues to consider. And, IMO, the World (especially in other Nations) is just not as safe as it once was for American citizens…a lot of foreigners don’t care much for Americans. I was once offered a job with “Belt Collins” in Hong Kong…definitely NOT a good place to work now. I’m sure there may be a few Nations overseas where it would be safe and a good work experience for an American LA…IMO though, I just think searching for an LA job in the U.S. makes more sense than an overseas job.

    Just an FYI, these Forums are for open discussion and opinions. I was only bringing up the FACTS that were stated in the U.S. Bureau of Statistics…and comparing them with the number of LA grads who would be graduating…..Now, with ONLY a 4% growth rate, the LAD profession just doesn’t appear that it’s doing as well as it was over the past 30 or 40 years,

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