January 7, 2011 at 10:36 pm #165740
Hi guys, I have been doing some online searching about salary range a BLA graduate can expect to get in their first year on the job and am finding some general information, but nothing too concrete. I am hoping some of you might be able to offer me some rough advice/guidance on this issue. I am a mature student (28 years old) and for my entire work history (mainly in landscape construction) I have been underpaid (probably due to gender, partly due to my lack of negotiating skills).
I also have a specific situation, which is generally not covered by those payscale websites:
I did an 8 month internship at a large consulting firm, and they really want me to come back. I am hoping to use this to negotiate a good starting salary but have no idea what is realistic. I also have extensive GIS knowledge, (which I learned last summer is very valuable), and the pay range of GIS specialists that I was looking up was higher than those for a landscape architect, so I was thinking that could potentially be a bargaining chip as well. Also I have 5 years of landscape construction experience and one year as the foreman, so that should help as well right?
The average listed for an entry level LA near Toronto is according to one website around $43,000 (seems kinda low to me) but there is a range from mid 30’s to low 50’s. I am wondering if I start at something like 50,000 is realistic, or if that is just way too high? (Of course this would be negotiated down a bit).
Also, do big firms generally pay more than a smaller firm, or is it vice versa?
Any advice (even if it’s for a different region that you live in) would really be appreciated!January 7, 2011 at 11:07 pm #165858
Andrew Garulay, RLAParticipant
Take what they give you and give them more reasons to pay you higher. I don’t think you should expect $50k starting out. I believe any company hiring a recent graduate will be much more comfortable allowing your pay to grow with how well you affect the profitability of the company.
You have what everyone else wants – an opprtunity to work. Take the opportunity and the money will follow. Ruin the opportunity by placing conditions on it and all you can do is wish that you took it.January 8, 2011 at 1:37 am #165857
50’s probably isn’t going to happen, but I hope it does!
In my experience in the west 35-45 is a more reasonable range. I would say someone with your experience and background in colorado would be looking at mid to high 30’s unfortunately. There are so many talented people here willing to work for whatever.
In my experience, big firms tend to pay a little more as well as offering more/better benefits. Smaller firms tend not to pay as much and you will work harder–maybe not necessarily longer hours, but you will have your hands in everything.January 8, 2011 at 5:28 am #165856
Ok thanks guys. Yeah I’m grateful for the job offer, (not official yet) and I know in this economy I should just take whatever I can get. Although I know we have not been hit as hard as some countries have and there is still hiring going on…
I guess if they ask me what salary I would expect I can start in the high 40’s? Or does a quote that’s too high immediately turn them off? Ideally I would like them to name a starting price first.
Something that may work against me is that I accepted the internship last year with a pretty base hourly rate…if I want a substantial wage increase they might be shocked right?January 8, 2011 at 6:52 am #165855
high 40’s is doing really well in colorado. That said, you should ask for what you think you are truly worth. If they want you, they already have a figure in mind.January 8, 2011 at 3:07 pm #165854
I think generally due to the CAD usually being lower than the USD, that salaries are a little bit higher here than down there, so high 40’s would probably be more like low 40’s down in the states. (?)
Maybe not…January 8, 2011 at 10:36 pm #165853
I do know that only two years ago people were graduating from my school and getting offered that much. One person was offered 50k. Granted, that was two years ago, right before the downturn. All I know is that anything under 40K was considered low…
I will be happy with the average at 43K but am just hoping to get a bit more if possible, since I know they were eager to have me back. Hopefully I’m not jinxing myself here.January 8, 2011 at 10:39 pm #165852
This is great advice!
So obviously I will only mention anything if they bring it up first. I’m thinking if I do some negotiating I will just mention the GIS experience that I have (which garners a higher salary on its own), the years of construction experience I have (they do a lot of CA stuff). I know specifically when they hired me as an intern they were looking for someone with extensive construction knowledge. Do you think these are valid points to bring up, or should I really just not push it?January 8, 2011 at 11:04 pm #165851
Of the people I know who recently graduated (past two years) with an MLA that are currently working, my best guess is that salaries average in the low to mid-40’s, and range from high 30’s to high-40’s based on location, experience levels, and market conditions. I would agree that you should reference general information if pressed for your expectation, and be willing to express flexibility. Ultimately, if they want you, and you are open, any negotiations should be just that, a negotiation, and not a dealbreaker.
One thought – have you asked your faculty what typical graduates are getting? They often keep tabs on that, and it can give you another good, general reference point to use in the interview. When asked, you can answer, “Generally, graduates from my program have started from $—- to $—–.”January 8, 2011 at 11:10 pm #165850
Great idea, I think I will do that. Although I’m not sure how much current data the faculty would have (pretty sure the majority of them no longer have their own practice).January 8, 2011 at 11:14 pm #165849
Keep in mind that this is in Canadian dollars, based on the higher cost of *everything* here. Plus, we haven’t experienced quite the acute recession here.January 8, 2011 at 11:15 pm #165848
Most faculty don’t have a current practice, but a lot will track how their advisees do in the marketplace, especially if they are active in helping people find jobs or providing recommendations. Usually they try to keep up to date so that they can provide good advice, but also to help market the program to potential students (i.e. our major can help people find jobs, usually, and here is what they start at). Above all, though, good luck!January 9, 2011 at 1:27 am #165847
Dennis J. Jarrard, PLA, CLARBParticipant
Like others have stated I think you need to tread very carefully when it comes to salary negotiations. I think your expectations are way to high for entry level. I have worked in firms where we have had interns that have become full time associates. Those people didn’t get huge raises when they became full time. They were given nominal raises. It was unfortunate too because some of them were very talented and deserved a better salary then something slightly higher than what they were making as an intern. One particular individual had to leave the firm in order to get a bigger bump in salary. Also be aware the US Dollar and Canadian Dollar are pretty much on par with one another these days. For a little more current information our firm is located in Chicago area and within the past 6 months we were searching for a junior level Landscape Architect/Designer. We wanted someone that was slightly more mature with at least 5 years experience and we would have been offering around $40K for a person with that background. Entry level with minimal experience wouldn’t get that much. We are a large firm but like many of my friends in other firms in the area and around the country we have all had to take pay cuts. Pay cuts ranged from 20% to 50% the principles have taken huge hits as well. This has allowed us to reduce the number of layoffs and keep the lights on. Fortunately, I can say things are looking up these days. We have added some new clients and even some new international work. We are all looking forward to a more prosperous 2011.January 9, 2011 at 2:31 am #165846
Yeah, the CAD is ever so slightly higher than the USD right now but that tends to happen from time to time for a short while and is generally always lower…and salaries are based on the norm.
I also have been told that firms here have not had the hard luck that hit American firms – Canada has not undergone nearly as drastic a recession as Europe or the US, so the hiring picture here is not nearly as bleak. I know at the firm I interned at there were no paycuts at all, and they have hired 3 new grads in the past 6 months at another office in the region, and are looking to hire someone else for another office in the province as well. So just based on what I know of the company and its economic health, I think the average range that is listed on the payscale etc. websites seems reasonable to aim for.
I would be interesting to get some Canadian input on here…but I guess there are not that many canucks paying attention to this thread.January 9, 2011 at 2:54 am #165845
I can’t divulge some details of things without making it obvious what firm I worked for and what my name is (to anyone who might be on here from the firm), but GIS knowledge at this firm was a huge bonus, they told me this point blank and they also assigned certain responsibilities and “special projects” (for lack of a better term) to me because of my GIS abilities. I personally would love it if they expected me to bring in GIS work – I would love that responsibility and the challenge of that.
I guess to some of you I might be sounding like an arrogant over-confident college kid, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. I guess I am unable to give enough context to get an accurate picture going of the situation.
I think I am going to use your advice about negotiating and just go by what the published averages are for the area, plus what my profs tell me people are getting, plus the extra skills I have which I know are highly valued (and rare from my demographic) and see what I can get.
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