Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects › Forums › GENERAL DISCUSSION › Salary Question
- This topic has 1 reply, 19 voices, and was last updated 12 years, 4 months ago by Andrew Garulay, RLA.
January 9, 2011 at 3:22 am #165844ncaParticipant
Higher salary expectations are ultimately good for all of us in a sense.
It sounds like you have a lot to offer and a good idea of your true value to an employer. I would go with that, even over some published statistics, which are probably outdated anyway.
Good Luck.January 9, 2011 at 3:56 am #165843
Thanks Nick!January 9, 2011 at 5:29 pm #165842Tosh KParticipant
I don’t know what the acceptable range is in Canada, but in the US a general rule of thumb for negotiation is +/- 10%~20% difference in numbers is the range when people are not offended (either being offered too low or too high).
I agree with much of those posting above:
1) don’t bring it up unless asked; and when asked try to have them make an offer (“I have a range in mind, but would prefer to have you make an offer” “I would prefer to know my value to you”).
2) bring you back doesn’t necessarily mean a raise in salary, it means you did well enough for them to feel comfortable putting you full time – in the US, firms take on benefits and tax responsibility (for us Social Security and Unemployment, which is 10~15% of our salary). I would consider any benefit package as part of a “raise”.
3) keep in mind a number that you “need” to make ends meet as the hard number, everything else is a bonus. The Canadian dollar is pretty close to the US, 50k is something a person licensed or about to be licensed in the US with an MLA could ask for. My classmates and the years before and after with an MLA are looking at 30s to high 40s, a few yrs back a few were getting 50s.
4) if the offer number is lower than you’d like, you can always ask for a performance review earlier, say 6 months instead of 12, and hope the firm is doing better and your responsibilities are growing.
Good luck, I’ve heard from a few other folks that Canada has weathered the storm pretty well.January 9, 2011 at 7:13 pm #165841AnonymousInactive
I feel if you are confident that you have what it takes to ask for a salary of $45-50,000 for a first year staff position, you should go for it. Either they’ll tell you yes or no.
If they tell you no, ask what they have in mind and start negotiating. If they say yes, buckle-up your chin strap, it’s time to immediately start delivering on what you sold yourself to be. Because if you managed to get them to pay you a higher than average salary and you turn-out to be the typical “deer in the headlights” rookie landscape designer, you’re going to be roaming around the office with a big target on your back. Every time you call in sick, forget one of the hundreds of tasks that you are given in one day or space-out with your headphones when you’re supposed to be grinding out CAD drawings, the boss is going to remember that you duped him and that you’re a high priced dud.
The fact is, trying to get the compensation that you feel you deserve is a delicate dance that you’ll probably be doing for a long time. I do it with every proposal for design services I submit.
If you truly believe that you bring something special to the table, which will be profitable to the firm, and that you’ll be a valuable member of the team, I say ask for top dollar. But, if you know deep down inside that you’re really a flakey slacker, who spends your day thinking about lunch and what you and your BFF have planned for 5:30pm, I say take what ever they want to offer you and be happy.
Seriously though, most employers only care about the skills you have as they directly apply to what their needs are. If they only need CAD jockeys, that’s what they are going to pay you for.
At all of the LA firms I have worked at in the past before the economic down-turn, first year people were like cannon fodder. They didn’t care about the program you graduated from or your past accolades. You were just the person they had to delegate things to, so that you were kept busy. The things they could probably do faster themselves by the time the finished explaining them to you. I can only imagine how tough it is for someone coming out now into the industry.
I believe right now it’s more important to be at a firm that will help you develop the skills you need to be the kind of LA you want to be. The last thing you want is to be a high priced cog in a machine.January 9, 2011 at 7:32 pm #165840Thomas J. JohnsonParticipant
Don’t accept anything less than six-figures 😉January 9, 2011 at 7:55 pm #165839
You’re last paragraph has sort of hit on a major point for me – I think I am trying to squeeze more money out of the deal here because I know that one of their main areas of focus (just because of one partner at the office) is not at all what I want to be doing for the rest of my career (in fact it makes me sad to be implementing projects like that), and so I feel like by taking a position with them I am sacrificing important principles of sustainability etc. and really putting my dreams on hold…who knows for how long. Add to that the fact that I am definitely not getting any younger…
I guess if they turn me down on the salary front then I can maybe ask to be minimally involved in the area of focus I alluded to above and that I dread being stuck in. There are several other partners and associates who I like to work for, maybe it is possible to negotiate working for them for the bulk of my time… or is the thought just silly?January 9, 2011 at 8:26 pm #165838Andrew Garulay, RLAParticipant
Raising the issue of pay is risky. Raising the issue of only wanting to work for certain people within the firm … fatal.January 9, 2011 at 8:49 pm #165837AnonymousInactive
I’ll second that. If you start making too many request before you’ve proven your worth, it could come back to bite you. Work hard and play like wall paper for a few of months. Don’t be a pain in the butt and let your work do the talking for you.January 9, 2011 at 10:22 pm #165836AnonymousInactive
“Your first responsibility is to meet the needs of your supervisor(s) and the owners of the firm without hesitation or complaint, make the most of what you are given, and seize opportunities for more advancement when they come, …” That puts it all together in a nice little package. I wish I came up with that.
As an “old timer” that’s pretty much how I have always operated.
In the real world employers at design firms don’t give a rat’s ass about your brilliance or your personal point of view. Their primary concern (if they’re smart) is weather or not you can produce enough work to justify what they are paying you. How you think or feel about anything is probably way down on their list of concerns.
I’ll add, responsibility number two – Get paid for doing number one.
Number three – Pay your bills, buy some stuff and have a little fun. Repeat.
Life is good! JJanuary 9, 2011 at 10:25 pm #165835
I was told I have a job if I want it, I don’t have to interview, they want me to come back…we just haven’t discussed anything in detail yet.
Really I’m the furthest thing from a prima donna. It’s not like I am expecting/demanding that they listen to me, I was wondering if asking them something like this would be acceptable. And yeah I can’t see any way I could possibly bring up such an issue anyway during the chat, so it’s just not gonna happen.
When I did my internship I had a lot of responsibility beyond that of an intern and even some of the other people working there who had already graduated, so I just feel like I have a bit more wiggle room than is typical of a new grad.January 9, 2011 at 10:28 pm #165834
I should add that the office is in a fairly remote location of the province, not a popular or populated area to live in so I think salaries are maybe a little bit higher because of that as well.January 10, 2011 at 12:25 am #165833
ok well it’s good to hear they’re getting $ 40,000 out in California…after all the low figures I’ve been seeing on here.
I think the difference in economic health between the two countries, the cost of living, and currency differences are skewing things here, and I am beginning to think I should be taking all this number talk with a grain of salt.
I think the number of $43,000 that I found for my province is reasonable. (At least from what I know was happening a couple years ago it’s right on the mark.) And since I have higher than average experience and skills (not compared to everyone, just compared to my demographic in my region – and believe me it is a small demographic) then I think it’s reasonable to ask for a bit more than the average.
After most of these responses I feel like I’m going to fall back into the usual trap of accepting below-average pay only to find out that other less qualified and less experienced workers are making more (story of my life).January 10, 2011 at 12:39 am #165832AnonymousInactive
I guess it could be taken that I am spreading an “entry level as peon” mantra (nicely put by the way), but that’s not the case. I agree that a person should ask for what they feel they deserve. My first instinct is to say, go for it. But be prepared to back up everything you’ve pitched to your boss to land the job.
Otherwise, you could end up being one of the many landscape architecture graduates out there that didn’t make it in the profession. Especially if you’re someone that asks for a higher salary, can’t get the job done and is a royal pain in the neck to boot. It’s not worth it for an employer. There are too many hungry hot shot landscape architects of various experience levels south of her border right now that will hitch hike, canoe, or ride a friggin moose to her lovely remote paradise and take her job on the cheap. Hell, sign me up!
“Movement” my fanny! This is survival. Entry, mid and senior level landscape architects are out there competing for the same work. Now is not the time to be a high maintenance/low out-put LA. Right now if business fell off, I wouldn’t think twice about taking some bum’s job that didn’t deserve it.
Things are tough here in NY, maybe things are just peachy in sunny CA right now.January 10, 2011 at 12:49 am #165831Andrew Garulay, RLAParticipant
If you do well for them, if they do not have many people capable of doing the work that they’ll have you doing in that area, and if it is as “out there” as you implied, there is no way that they will not pay you what you are worth no matter whether you are male, female, black, white, or striped. Just give them a chance to see how you work out as you give them a chance to keep you there. Eight months is not a long evaluation period, but if you are truly as unique and proven a catch for this company as you believe they will offer you compensation based upon that as well. I expect that you will be offered a reasonable amount to start – value is a two way street when it comes to compensation for work.
Your question is whether other people thought $50k was a reasonable amount for someone with 8 months of internship. I think everyone gave you honest opinions. … the one who told you not to listen to the nay sayers also said “In California 40,000 is the starting pay for recent grads with internship experience and sound technical skills” which is not inconsistent with what anyone else said. You had a pretty good cross section of people from those in the entry level hunt to those who have been working for others for quite a while.
I hope you get paid what you are worth.January 10, 2011 at 12:50 am #165830
I have never said I am not grateful. I have also said that I am past the interview stage – there will be no interview, they told me they want me back, it’s not word of mouth.
It’s starting to sound like you don’t think I should negotiate at all and that you don’t think I have any reason to accept anything than what they offer me.
As for bargaining chips – I have the GIS experience (in high demand at this firm and extremely rare among my peer group), previous work experience (type and length is also rare in my peer group), varied technical knowledge, they know I am an excellent worker and can rely on me to get things done efficiently and to work as much overtime as needed, etc. etc I don’t know but those all seem like advantages.
You don’t think they are going to try to get me to accept the lowest possible offer they have? They’re a large corporation and the managers would not be doing their job if they didn’t.
I don’t see how no negotiating at all can possibly be the answer, especially when I compare my skills and experience to my peer group.
All grads don’t get paid exactly the same amount when they graduate, do they? So what makes them get different amounts? Company, region, and their own personal skills and qualities, or how well they’re able to sell their benefits to the potential employers right?
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