LARE Professional Experience

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    So I am in the process of taking the LARE here in California. I am currently getting the last bit of my professional experience by working in the public sector under the supervision of a Civil Engineer.

    How common is this? Has anybody gotten qualified experience working for the government or under the supervision of an Architect or Civil Engineer? Do you run across any trouble by doing this?

    *California requires 2 years of experience. With one being under the direct supervision of a LA and one year under the supervision of a LA, architect or Civil engineer.  


    My old boss did this. He was able to take the exam in Connecticut after working for a Civil Engineer and then obtained reciprocity in his current state. 

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    I initially got registered in a state that did not require work experience. I started taking LARE in that state but moved to a state that does require work experience. I worked for a Civil Engineer and Land Surveyor in the new state for about a year before finishing getting licensed in the state that I left. The work experience in the CE office was what got me through LARE (grading & drainage and regulatory stuff). So, I became licensed in a state that I did not live in.

    Very shortly afterward I landed a job with an LA. I applied for reciprocity as soon as I started working for the LA and had a letter from them to support my application. I left the LA job within two months (they put me on salary and then told me that I was to work 10 hour days 6 days a week with a 1 hour commute in both directions – one reason that I don’t like the intern system). As Bob Segar would say “They used me and I used them and neither one of us cared”. I did get reciprocity right away only months after I was initially licensed. I went back to working in the CE office where I was learning and doing a lot of things unlike the LA office where I just did the tasks the others did not want to do. I’m not sure if I would or would not have gotten reciprocity without that very brief time with the LA and letter from him or not.

    I can tell you without a doubt that the work experience in the CE office was very strong in filling the knowledge on the technical side of our profession. I believe that the other parts of LARE were very well learned in school. I also believe that much of the non-technical part of landscape design is fairly easy to develop on your own. … much more than learning grading and drainage on your own.

    I took a job as an LA with a high end already successful design/build landscape contractor who had an LA degree, but was not licensed. I added prestige because they could call themselves “landscape architects”. I was able to learn a ton about high end residential landscape design in the area which I live from someone who was already extremely successful at it. I also worked in the field constructing and supervising until I had a bad back injury two years into it. I went back to working in the CE office, but continued to design part time for the contractor. That allowed me to develop the skills and knowledge from both the civil side and the landscape side at the same time, although separately.

    I continued to work in small local Civil Engineering offices doing civil site plans for a total of 12 years as well as doing residential design on the side and for that contractor. During that time I had a lot of interaction with architects, builders, various government regulatory bodies, and landscape architects. I got to experience dealing with landscape architects from the perspective of a civil engineering office.

    I was in tons of meetings with other non-LA people in the development world where no one knew that I was an LA while they discussed LAs. I learned a lot that would become very useful for me to move forward on my own as an LA. Networking was huge as well because you are dealing with all of the other players on the projects that LAs might work on. You get to see and hear what the LAs don’t get to from the people who are involved in the projects before any LA hears about it. All of these people become familiar with you which can open opportunities later.

    I absolutely think it was an excellent path for me to have taken, although I did not know it for much of the earlier time.


    Hello Smithhart;

    You’re correct, that you will need (2) years of professional exp. working under a Licensed Landscape Architect (for 1 yr.)…then, you can get your 2nd year working under a Licensed CE or Architect.

    I think, in today’s economy (though, it does seem to be improving)……you need to get exp. and a design job where ever you can get it.  However, that being said, IMO, the BEST experience you can possibly get is designing at an established Landscape Architecture Firm (maybe one that has at least 12 LAs or more).  It seems that very small LA firms are really in a good position to “mentor” young entry level LAs.

    Working in an “environment” where you surround yourself with very experienced and talented Landscape Architects will be a huge benefit to you as you move forward…..learning our profession.  I’m not saying, you won’t pick up good knowledge working for a CE or an Architect…..but, they are seriously different professions than ours’.

    I designed for (2) different LA Firms to start my LA firm.  (1) year in Sarasota, Florida…then (13) years for a Dallas LA firm (that grew to 40 Landscape Architect while I was there)….plus, I logged in (2) years worth of “over-time” during those (13) calendar years.  I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be surrounded by many exp. & talented Landscape Architects…who worked with me & mentored me.  At the age of 42 and with all that experience behind me……I established my own Landscape Architecture Firm in Plano, Texas (on the Northern edge of Dallas).

    So really, the first (10) years of your LA career are very important… those years lay the critical ground work for your future.  Do everything you can do to ensure your LA career goes in the direction YOU wish it to go.  And…be sure, along the way, that you keep copies of projects you have designed, graphics – color renderings, sketches and photos of projects you designed… you need to always keep adding to your professional portfolio…….that “Professional Portfolio” is your life line to your future as an LA.


    J. Robert (Bob) Wainner  


    Does working under the supervision of a Landscape Architect with an expired license count for anything?

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    Each state board has its own rules and use their own discretion on what they’ll accept. You should probably directly contact them to see where they think you are in your ability to get licensed.


    I saw this one and had to post. I’m very late to the topic but anyone reading may get something from it.

    I have worked all of my 20 years with a firm that employs CE’s and LA’s. I have not worked for a LA firm only. Recently, I applied for a job with a local reputable LA only firm that has been in business for a very long time, 50 yrs. In my interview, the owner told me that they would LOVE to have a guy on the staff that has civil and landscape experience (I use those terms loosely). They have many LAs on staff that certainly know their way around a plant palette but know little about such things as detailing, grading, software use, etc. When I told him that I do such things as cost estimates for things as pavements, curb and gutter, storm structures, etc it certainly was out of the realm of what everyone there does on a daily basis. Hey, I know plenty of LAs that can do just as much as any CE. I think working with a CE firm is will make you a “more technical” LA than you might be by just working at a studio alone.

    Hope this helps.

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