The Unemployment Rate For Landscape Architects/Designers

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GENERAL DISCUSSION The Unemployment Rate For Landscape Architects/Designers

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    ; )

    Jay Smith

    Whoa there Craig, practice a little comprehensive reading before hitting those keys.  Why did you automatically assume I was referring to you?  You’re so trigger happy your ready to unload on anyone who might be “one of them”.  My views on the direction of our profession is about as middle of the road as you will find.  But thanks for proving my earlier point.  Yeah, I can’t imagine why more of those 13k don’t join in.   

    April Prey

    Russell – boy do I feel your pain – it is really tough to stay positive.  I am finishing up year 2 of my BLA – each and every quarter I question the wisdom of continuing, generally waiting until the last minute to register.

    My household of 2 – my partner and I, were both laid off our jobs in 2009 – he from his mechanical engineering job and me from my paralegal job. It isn’t just landscape architecture that is in the dumps – everything is.  Law school grads can’t find jobs…the dentist I have is a refugee from California who hates practicing in WA state, but its the only place he could find work. I talk to nursing school professors from UW…new nursing grads can’t find the work they want and have to settle for long-term care positions.  Many of my neighbors have been unemployed since 2008, laid off from various professions.

    What I see happening around me, and it concerns me, is what you said yourself: “…keep spouting that crap about it’s us not the field or the economic times we live in. It’s us ingrates.”  There is a growing rift between The Employed…and the Not Employed.  The Employed are scared…so they provide fuel for the fire by deeming those Not Employed worthless.  Why do I say this?  Three years of reading articles about the unemployment rate/economy…and the types of comments such articles generate – there is definite “the unemployed are worthless” meme out there.  I began to wonder how many people who believe the Not Employed deserve their fate are in the position to hire, or influence hiring – then the national media begins running articles noting discrimination against the long-term unemployed, merely confirming what I suspect.

    The point I am trying to make is: it is not YOU, it is not ME…it’s the economy stupid.  Employers are in the driver’s seat, and they don’t care about potential, attitude, or what you have done before.  All they care about is: “can you make money for me within 48 hours of hiring you?”  Having been in the workforce since 1985, I can see how much has changed.  There was once a time when the job seeker was in the driver’s seat, and employers had to make do with candidates that only had 60% of the skills they were looking for and were willing to “train up” the other 40% because they had no choice.

    I am sure my post is a waste of pixels and not much help as I don’t have any answers…but just wanted to note you are not the only one pissed off about the theoretical landscape unicorn!

    Jay Smith

    Good post April.  I think the rift you spoke of can also, at least partly, be attributed to man’s innate desire to feel we have more control over our lives than we really do.  People want to feel they make their own luck.  People want to believe they have jobs other don’t because of personal choice and hard work. And why not, who wouldn’t sleep better at night holding this belief?  I’ve been in both camps during this period and I see the fine line that separates the employed from the unemployed.  It’s sad that some out there feel they are so immune.  


    As for 13,000 members being scared away by the mean LA(s), you don’t even believe that. After being criticized and reject from our first design studio to being chewed up by the current economy, we LAs are a lot thicker skinned than that.


    Perhaps I am a little touchy and looking for a fight when it comes to someone saying Landscape Architecture is dead, especially if they’re not looking to help breathe life into it. If I misinterpreted your post, then I apologize. I’m not here to make enemies. I’m here to fellowship with people that believe in the future of Landscape Architecture.


    That said, I’ll take a step back and try a little harder to understand where you and others that feel the way you do are coming from. I’m not sure if it’s a generational, socio-economic, cultural or regional thing that we’re dealing with here or what. I’m suffering just like the next guy. My attitude is that I’ve been through hard times before and I’ll make it through these by being positive and grinding everyday. I’m here on Land8 to give and receive support to like minded LAs during these dark times. If that’s where your heads at then we’re cool. I’ve got no problem with you man.   


    Someone going to school to better themselves is not worthless… You’re going through hard times like the rest of us. Anyone that thinks people would rather live off unemployment than work a real job is an idiot and folks worth talking to know the economy is the problem. The few LAs that are working right now are lying awake at night waiting for the other shoe to drop. Principals at big firms and one-person shops are as scarred as anybody else. You recognize that LAs are not the only ones starving right now. So you might as well stay the course because nobody’s offering up any safe alternative routes. A bet against Landscape Architecture is a bet against this country recovering as far as I’m concern. Study hard and hang in there, it’s not going to stay like this forever.


    Where’s the work that’ll set my hands, my soul free/where’s the spirit that’ll reign over me/where’s the promise from sea to shining sea?

    ‘We Take Care of Our Own’- B. Springsteen.


    PS I never thought I would relate hard core to Bruce’s words of the working class (now despairing)…But now I do.

    I really do

    Sorry about the politics now I cant help it…


    I had been meaning to look up the lyrics to that song when I caught the line “From the shotgun shack to the Superdome” and realized there was a big social critique in there to belie the anthemic sound.  I hear ya on the relating thing!


    April, Try telling this to Andrew! Its either you’re on the “inside” or “outside” of LA. There are no gray areas.

    Craig, there you go again my friend: “hang in there, not like this forever.” You living in Disneyland or something? Some people can’t wait 4 or 5 years! And when it does, eventually come back, firms have learned to do with less employees. The days of those mass hiring are gone. I’m just giving reality advice of the state of the profession. Judging by your words, there should be more graduating LAs…to join the other unemployed, recent grads of 2009, 2010 & 2011.


    Andrew, “poke and laugh at those of us stupid enough to not leave the profession” Huhh? I’m merely saying there’s more to it than you’re view on the “inside” or “outside”. Just because you’re on the “outside” with an LA job doesn’t imply lack of hard work or no knowledge in getting clients. This is what your previous statements are suggesting. And don’t worry about me; I’m doing quite well. I worry for my former co-workers who haven’t been able to find FULL-TIME employment in the profession. And ask yourself, what has ASLA, your national organization done lately? Did they lower the fees for licensure and for the annual conference?

    Someone is talking about stock investments? I’m all ears!! Hey, don’t blame me if my hunches were right on. I went with my gut feeling 14 years ago and in April of 2009.

    Glenn Arthur

    Hi everyone , I am an employer , and I am not a Landscape Architect .   

    From reading a lot of the posts on this topic for the last half hour , it really hit home to me how much a lot of people in your industry are hurting . It pains me a lot as I have the utmost respect for Landscape Architects and their work.  Us Aussies also love our American friends . 

    We all know that the economy in the USA has been hit hard by a series of events since 2008 , and to a lesser extent , so has the industry here in Australia .  Anyone can be forgiven if they find it hard to keep a positive outlook , especially if they have also become unemployed in the process. I mean this in a sincere way, not in a condescending way.  I know what it is like to have creditors knocking on the door for overdue payments, it is very stressful, and it also seriously impedes our daily ability to be creative in our work and to stay positive.  

    As an employer of LA’s and A’s , the changes in the economies across the globe have forced us to look for new ways to gain new business , so we continually search for new marketing methods , new software and hardware , and of course new and better ways to maintain our creative bank of contractors .

    But worldwide competition , and the rapid speed of the internet growth in places like China and especially India , is creating a situation where it is almost impossible for any business to survive under the systems and hourly rates of years gone by .  Terrible but true !  

    I am not sure if you good people are aware of websites like where employers place/post  projects and jobs online , and then contractors from around the globe bid on each project.  This means that you can be located in the USA ( not China) but still be able to bid on work anywhere in the world.  I know it is NOT the ideal way to get work , but at least it might help some LA’s and others in the design industries to get some dollars in the bank to meet current living costs . Maybe you also need to be creative in the way that you work, maybe you have talents that are peripheral to the core LA’s talents, upon which you can earn dollars by bidding for projects . 

    I also know it is hard to teach old dogs new tricks( I know this because I am an old dog) , but I am about to use Apple’s new iBook authoring software( free download) to create some Landscape Design books for the iPad …….as another avenue to earn some extra dollars, but more importantly , to help in the cross marketing of my company’s products and services to new and existing clients.  If you can use a CAD program, you can easily pick up on this new software and create an ibook that might sell for say $4.99 ..what if you sell 10,000 of them this year ? ( most good apps sell hundreds of thousands of units )

    For those LA’s who are looking for work , do you have your own website setup ???  Do you know it only costs about 15 bucks per month to do that ? Do you know that you can download web designer software that is dead easy to use , but also very powerful , for about $49 ??( e.g. ).  Your own web site could be up and running in a week .  If you also read up on SEO’s , then Google search engines will find your site quickly, and you might just start to get some enquiries in from prospective new clients from around the world. Maybe it is worth considering ?  Clean and easy to use website layouts are the best …simple and easy to navigate . 

    My message post here today is to try and assist ,in a very small and positive way , some of you earn some extra bucks and pay your bills , as like me , we also hope and wait for a slow recovery in the economy of the USA and the rest of the world .  I hate to say it, but sitting around brooding , abusing, attacking others’ messages is not achieving anything positive at all , it just takes oneself deeper into the negative hole that is so easy to end up in when faced with financial worries.  I know because I have been there, every day is a challenge in business , but if you think outside the square, who knows what good may come from it ? 

    A final thought , be proud of your profession , and more importantly be proud of who you are and know that you can achieve great things if you set your mind to it .  I honestly believe that . 

    Good luck everyone , and if you need any assistance , you are welcome to message me. ( no charge , but I want credits when I get Upstairs 🙂 ) 

    And NO, I have absolutely no affiliations with any of the websites etc I have mentioned above , I am truly just trying to help anyone that wants help. 

    Take care   Glenn 



    Craig, what are you talking about?! I agreed with you that its more than just two perspectives. Andrew’s inside or outside views were rather weak. For Andrew, if you’re on the outside, you complain about the profession, and are lazy and don’t know how to market your portfolio or talk to clients.

    Life is a little more complex than his two views of the profession. I’m not discouraging folks, I’m actually giving them sound advice. Look before you leap!

    Nick, as usual…ride the coattails of my critics and offer ZERO personal comments. Maybe its time to plug that cord into a wall outlet.





    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    My point is not “ha-ha screw you, you are on the outside” (except in your case Bob). It is only that landscape architecture is not dead unless you are on the outside because situationally, you can get on the inside right now. Yes, that is because of the economy. Without those things – network, built work, connections, reputation, … it is dead because there is no way to get those right now.


    If you are still on the inside, the work is the same. …. and any of us on the inside can wind up on the outside looking in. The only difference is that we are better positioned with connections, built work, and more experience dealing with clients directly.


    When there is more development, the cycle will restart.

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