Non-RLA’s using the title Landscape Architect

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GENERAL DISCUSSION Non-RLA’s using the title Landscape Architect

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    Are any other RLA’s tired of non-licensed individuals using the title Landscape Architect?  We have worked too hard and spent too much time and money to earn this title.  It seems that any landscaper, gardener or joe schmo is using the title without qualification.  It’s hard enough finding work as an RLA but now we have to compete with people that call themselves landscape architects and really aren’t. 

    If you are in a practice state and you are calling yourself a landscape architect then you need to have your license.  If you don’t have it, then you are an LAIT or associate landscape architect, designer or something else.  If you are one of these people, please stop using the title.  It diminishes the profession and makes advocacy pointless. If you want the title, put your time, study and work your a$$ off like the rest of us.  It will make it much more rewarding when you get it and it will be legal.

    I don’t see E.I.T’s calling themselves full fledged engineers.  I don’t see non-licensed architects calling themselves so.  Why is our profession so spineless and unregulated when it comes to this?  Why do many large firms still let non-RLA’s put the title landscape architect on their business cards?  I can’t tell you how much of a punch in the gut it was to be working with ‘kids’ right out of school calling themselves landscape architects with zero knowledge and skills.  It was more disappointing that these firms we worked for allowed this.  If anyone should be pushing for advocacy and standards, it should be these firms.  Right? Am I alone in thinking this?  I mean if there are no standards and more importantly no regulation what the he)) is the point?  Thoughts?


    I didn’t work so hard just to get a title. I did it to advance myself in my profession. I knew that the title would reflect my commitment to the profession as well as create opportunity for me.


     I’m not so worried about “almost” landscape architects diminishing the profession so much as I think it’s just disrespectful and not very professional. If a person is trying to “hi-jack” the title to impress people at cocktail parties, to get laid or just because it’s easier, they’re just a phony. What’s even more ridiculous is having to explain to people what the hell a pseudo-landscape architect is. While you’re jackin’ titles why don’t you make yourself a duke or princess? Say and be what you are. It just seems easier than losing all credibility when you have to eventually fess-up.


    So when can you call yourself a landscape architect? After you complete your first design studio? After you get your BSLA? After you learn how to do grading and drainage? How about after a certain amount of critical acclaim? This is just more silliness. I don’t care if a person’s face is plastered all over every issue of LAM, you’re not a landscape architect until you pass the exam established by the profession.


    When I say “you” that means anyone who’s a fake landscape architect.

    Heather Smith

    why don’t you make yourself a duke or princess?

    Darn…you mean we can’t? haha.

    This discussion isn’t about whether an unlicensed professional can be wonderful, talented, and creative. We do design/build there is nothing wrong with that…my husband is licensed and I am not…it doesn’t make me feel worse, nor does it make me feel I need to introduce myself as a landscape architect.

    He became licensed so that it would open doors for him professionally and it has. Sure, the whole world doesn’t open up but he has gotten opportunities he wouldn’t have functioning as a landscape designer. In our region, living 8 miles between two universities that have landscape architecture departments, we have to step up our game as design/build business owners. Every summer students on break or graduating and post fliers up all over town advertising for work…having the title of landscape architect separates us a bit from that market.

    Spending money and time on his license was a direct investment in our business. You better believe we pay attention to anyone calling themselves a landscape architect, even in passing, if they aren’t. They are our competition.


    I agree with you 100%, Craig. Now its not just the young yahoos who want to call themselves LAs, but now we get seasoned veterans who never were motivated enough to earn the title. If you tell your family or close friends you’re an LA, then okay…but the minute you start introducing yourself as one in any social situations, you are really misrepresenting or lying about it.

    When I worked for the large Design corporations during my first 8 years, I never cared about the title and always introduced myself as a Urban Designer, Project Design Manager or Landscape Designer. Why? It’s not the size of your office or title, but the size of your paycheck that counts!

    There’s no gray area, its a right or wrong, black or white issue. You can gather all the trophies, awards and accolades in the profession, but until you PASS THE EXAM, technically you are not a LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT by definition. Again, as I already stated: People want to use the word “Architect” because it is more prestigious than “Designer” and that’s the bottom line.


    Brett T. Long

    We were all unlicensed at some point and we all have our choices. If you care enough about this profession, then suck it up and put in the time. If you don’t want to put in the effort and face the challenge of getting a license… don’t. This is true for a degree, a drivers license and library card. If you can’t be bothered to earn your state’s license then don’t expect to benefit from the efforts of those that have. You don’t get a trophy for just showing up.

    Jason T. Radice

    Unfortunately with the way education and certain aspects of society are, you get more than a trophy just for showing up. Everybody is special, yet no one is exceptional, you are the best at everything you do. You are entitled for a $100k a year job right out of school and they should just GIVE you a license. What exam? Self esteem is SOOOOOO important. We don’t want to make kids feel bad or have to put in a bit more effort to attain a goal. It is no wonder why most of our doctors, engineers, and even architects are coming in from overseas. Our own kids don’t want to do the hard work to get ahead.


    In my day, you also could get a trophy for showing up…it was called ‘perfect attendence.’


    I’m not interested in using the title (as seldom as that may be) so much for the ‘prestige’ (because I dont think the word ‘architect’ carries much prestige today anyway), but because it better represents what I do and how I think.


    Like I said, 9 times out of 10 I refer to myself as a “designer,” (oh a fashion designer!? like project runway?!), “graphic designer,” “urban designer/planner dude” or just “dude behind the guy…”


    Technically, I am not a Landscape Architect and I amfine with that. My primary objective in life or in my career isn’t to be a Landscape Architect…just a good designer (which I think means a lot more).


    David– I like the way you think. I’ve read about Ando on architecture forums..sounds like an amazing individual.



    Nick Aceto, FLA







    Wouldn’t it suck to get beat out of a project by a FLA?

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    I used to say “I have a degree in landscape architecture and I am in the process of getting licensed”. Believe it or not, that sparked a lot more interest than when I now say “I am a landscape architect”.


    The funny part to this whole thread is the assumption that people will be impressed with you by saying “I’m an LA”. … with great expectation comes great disappointment.

    Tim Brown

    What if I say I’m a landscape architectural designer???

    Andrew Garulay, RLA


    Heather Smith

    I think this sounds accurate and explains what you do.


    I think you just answered the question that’s been running around in my head. Now I see why some people don’t get it. They’re the ones that got smiley face stickers and treats even though they were obnoxious little brats all day.


    We have become so soft. Somebody save us from ourselves.


    I have even better questions. Just how insecure is a person that introduces themselves as something that they know they’re not? If the title didn’t mean anything why would a person risk (at the very least) having egg on their faces when the truth came to light?


    If I wanted to impress people with a title, it certainly wouldn’t be landscape architect. Doctor or senator or even colonel would sound better to me.


    Personally I could careless about other people’s judgment of me. I’ve described myself in the past as a “working class landscape architect” who designs “backyards” for wealthy people. No I’m not famous nor do have famous people lining up to work with me, but believe me if I couldn’t produce, I couldn’t pay the bills. And I’ve made a pretty decent living for the last twenty one years (excluding the great recession years) as a landscape architect/landscape designer.


    I learned most of what I know from good landscape designers, horticulturalist, contractors and CAD technicians. I have nothing but respect for the professional ones. I’m not anymore important or valuable than they are. I just qualified to sit for and passed the LARE.  This is why I can call myself a landscape architect.


    Good luck on your exam!


    …but now we get seasoned veterans who never were motivated enough to earn the title.


    You’re just being way too kind MauiBob. You’re the best!

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