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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    Nick Mitchell

    From my perspective, a student studying for 4 years, I have always felt that you get out of ASLA what you put in. I am by no means making a judgement on you. I feel ASLA needs more evolvement from it’s members.

    Now Alan you founded your firm the year I was born so as an elder you have my respect in that sense with all your experience. I feel as an LA you should be a member and encourage others to join the National Organization that has the power to speak for us in legislation.

    Now as the whole LA tittle goes, I feel being a landscape architect and being liscesned are two separate things. Now for the “legality” aspect of it, I am a landscape designer/planner who has a professional accredited landscape architecture degree. I know you feel strongley about the time and commitment involvled for the license and you have every right to be.

    Now when you say, why are you on a site for landscape architects when your not one, really? I don’t believe we are pursing clients or going after RFP’s on here, so we are all landscape architects on here. Please don’t fine me.

    Now go easy on me Alan I’m just a student.

    Alan Ray, RLA

    So, if I “have every right to be”

    …then why are you sniping at me?

    I see that you are a Student Landscape Architect…..

    Where do they give out that title?

    Nick Mitchell

    In all seriousness what’s the difference between LA and RLA?

    Nick Mitchell

    Does this mean the title “landscape architect” in any form such as student and such is applicable by this law? I’m trying not to be against you here.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA


    It is not a matter of anyone’s opinion. The use of the term “landscape architect” is regulated by law – rightly, or wrongly.


    Alan’s opinion, no disrespect for Alan intended, is of no consequence. Read the link that you posted! It clearly states who may and may not use the title in your state. It does better than most by mentioning how people registered in other states can use the term and how they may not.


    This entire thread is testimony to the ignorance of the licensing laws. They are clearly written for 49 states and yet everyone wants to decide that their opinions trump the laws when it suits them.




    The Practice Acts have holes in them that you can drive trucks through, but I have yet to see a state’s LA law that is not clear as a bell as to the use of the title whether it is a Title Act or a Practice Act.


    Say what you want about ASLA, but they have a nice page to get the basics on the LA licensing for each state:


    Nick Mitchell

    Thanks Andrew! I wasn’t trying to come off ignorant, I was just confused.


    personally I don’t see how anything in this thread is helping the profession. registered or not we all love this profession and choose to do it and we all know it wasn’t for the money.


    LA work is so vast that everyone here also knows how difficult it is to explain what we do(as a whole) because their are so levels and facets. 


    As my professor told me (an RLA) in 2nd year studio we are all LA’s and as soon as we start thinking like LA’s the easier the program will become.


    I am not suprised in these time people get testy about what to call yourself.  Like nick said earlier. I have used a number of titles when speaking casually. Never would I advertise for LA work with out the R.


    I too worked hard for my BLA, and I am an LA working as a Landscape Designer who will someday be working towards becoming and RLA.  

    Leslie B Wagle

    Denise, I doubt the comment about RLA’s “hoping to keep new graduates out of the job market through the licensing laws” for some 2-3 reasons besides the laws being there before the recession even started. First, RLA’s probably never were the main employers for new grads. I’m willing to bet most had to start with multi-disciplinary firms, hopefully under a staff RLA – and secondly, they just can’t hire you to look out the window. They are plain short on work and can’t afford it. Thirdly, they aren’t likely to be that threatened by non-registered people unless they are going after the residential market. So I’m not totally clear what you are saying but please don’t imply on your resume or business cards that you are registered, as that could lead to a lot of trouble in an interview.


    Do you feel disadvantaged in not having access to some form of advertising? I’m not sure printed or internet forms are that help much in freelancing anyway. If it’s a problem in personal contact frameworks or even on business cards, what about just saying that you have a degree in LA? That would be enough to impress the small scale client and would be honorable in the meantime. Otherwise, what you are questioning is the whole merit of experience under someone in the real world. It’s too bad that’s hard to come by at the moment, but that topic has been covered and will probably continue to be defended. By the way, there are people with experience who think they should be exempt from the exam. The theory of licensing (even if you’ve seen some people who you feel superior to) is that it takes both. Otherwise, the standard would just be a degree itself but there aren’t many professions that operate that way. Teachers are exam only (?) but look at their situation…layoffs everywhere and not a lot of alternatives except tutoring. A license doesn’t give you clients and a degree never guaranteed a job, even in the good times.


    Yikes! I sense a little anger in your tone Denise. But you know what, as a RLA I’m pissed off too. I’m pissed off because I’m paying for registration and continuing education units when I just barely have enough work to pay the bills. In other words, I (and half of the US) am in survival mode as well.  Without steady flow of projects there are no entry level positions or apprenticeships. You have to understand we’re all on the same boat.


    RLAs are not “The Man”. “The Man” is in Washington and on Wall Street. Most RLAs are just trying to hang on to their home and make the next payment on their Prius.


    You’re anger is totally misdirected. The majority of senior LAs love to work with junior staff. Once I get started I could talk a person to death if they show a sincere interest in the profession.


    Word of advice, I know you’re hungry right now, but remember there are RLAs out there that are even hungrier and have hungry cubs to feed. If you decide you want to use the title, you could be doing yourself more harm than good.


    I’ve noticed a lot of design/build firms, including ones that I knew didn’t have any licensed people on staff, using “landscape architect” as a search keyword so that their advertising comes up through search engines and on the advertising sidebars of pages.  That’s kind of annoying, and I imagine its difficult to prosecute, as a board would have to prove intent to deceive and they’d have to get a hold of the records from whatever company they were using to push their search status up.  I don’t even have a complete idea of how that works.


    Denise, Leslie & Craig have some valuable advice for you.  Several members of my class never got to work in LA and never got licensed.  The demand for our services is dictated by the market.  RLAs aren’t sitting on piles of cash (like some corporations) that they would otherwise use to ensure the succession of their firm in the future.  The market could care less if there are no landscape architects in 20 years.  The market believes that something else will step in to fill the void.  RLAs are in a position where they have to think about their own day-to-day survival, not the survival of landscape architecture in the future.  Of course, this unfettered faith in the market raises questions, as some sectors of the economy are propped up by government actions.  For example, I haven’t seen any defense contractors going out of business..oh wait, Lockheed Martin announced layoffs recently.  What to do?  Write your elected representatives and urge the to support reconstruction of infrastructure, push for green infrastructure, calls for better design of public spaces.  Most of the time, what you’ll get in return is a form letter that is an example of how to say nothing in three paragraphs, but at least you’ll feel like you’ve done something! 

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    Many LAs work without any employees. … many more than a few years ago.

    Matt Boisseau

    Could an unlicensed person say for example on their business card,

    Jane Doe,

    Landscape Architecture


    And not be in violation? This may have been covered in previous posts…just to lazy right now to go back.

    Heather Smith


    I really feel your anger is misdirected. Frustration understandable? Absolutely. We own a design/build firm in Idaho and my husband was able to sit for his exams right out of college and actually be licensed. I know some will boo and hiss at this…but I don’t really care. If we had to wait for licensure IT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN. Because as you point out there aren’t even places to work under an RLA to get the necessary experience to sit for exams. The problem isn’t that they want to keep people out…the problem is that there isn’t enough work for them to hire you. Just on NPR yesterday they were talking about internships throughout the economy and that the government recently put out guidelines to remind people what an intern actually is. An internship must benefit you more then the employee. You have to be available to teach said intern…so your work needs to be applicable. Many RLAs are doing all sorts of work…not necessarily even related to landscape architecture. I have no even studied for my tests…and am not sure the money spent is worth it. I encourage you to look into starting a design/build of your own…even part-time to keep your foot in the door. We have been dealing with this frustration, anger and sadness since 2008…the year my husband graduated. Let go of expectation and look for opportunity.

    Oh yeah…and you are really not doing yourself any good throwing a hissy fit. Stomping your feet and insisting you have paid good money makes you sound like a whiny two year old. Join the club sister! You better believe someone is going to report you if they find out you are misusing the term.

    BTW, you don’t know as much as you think. Check out my plants post…going out on your own with the type of ignorance you are exhibiting is a recipe for disaster. You will be taken advantage of. There is A LOT to running your own business…that we are not taught. If the tests were so easy people wouldn’t be taking them over and over. Try to find a little humility. There are some great people here that can offer you advice and encouragement.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    Read your state regulation. Most are very clear that you can not, but I have not read every one of them.


    I’m always amazed at how many people have not read their state regulation.


    Alan Ray, RLA

    ….so the world owes you?

    when do you graduate?

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