What if there were no licensure?

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    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    It is very clear that licensing landscape architects has a behaviour
    modification impact. What would any of us do, if there were no licensing. No one
    would be complaining about the LARE, no one would be worried about working for
    free in order to get internship credit, no one would be arguing over who can
    themselves what, no one would have a pay scale expectation based on degree or stamp, …… and somehow landscapes would still get designed and built.


    What would you do differently tomorrow to move ahead in your career if there
    were no landscape architect registration?


    Should you be doing that anyway?


    saved thousands of dollars and heartache. hence i would still be designing landscapes.

    Heather Smith

    Doing what we’re doing right now!

    Jason T. Radice

    Save TENS of thoudsands of dollars and five years on a college degree as well.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    If it were not for the license, would you have gone to school for a B(S)LA? I’m not sure that I would have. That being said, I am quite confident that the degree has changed what I do and how I do it. I’m doubtful that I would have gone back to school 12 years later at 33 without the licensing incentive. I was a landsape contractor in the late 80’s early nineties slow down and decided to finish the degree since I was not making any money at that time anyway.


    My journey following the licensure track pushed me into educational job experiences that I never would have gone into otherwise. Now as I am bending my career back to the path that I originally wanted to take, there is no doubt in my mind that the value of licensing is much more in the educational and work experience that develops us than in the power of the stamp itself.


    If you took my stamp away from me tomorrow, I’d do the same thing that I would have done with it. BUT, had I not done the things that I needed to do to get that stamp, I could not do what I what I now do. That I am sure of.


    So what does it all mean? Well, for those who feel like they are right there and deserving of a license,but are denied the opportunity because of a little intern time or a credit or two toward your degree, the stamp won’t change your life.That has already been done (if you truly are as close as you think). My advice for the short term is not to let chasing the stamp get in the way of your career. You either are functional and can demonstrate it, or you are not. Holding up the stamp or not having one to hold up, won’t change that either way. Calling yourself “landscape architect” or something else is only going to make a difference when someone is forced to use an LA rather than someone who they respect for what they do (not to say that it won’t be an LA whom they would choose).


    So what about the stamp? It is much like the university sweat shirts you wear because you are proud of your school, at the very minimum. It represents what you did to build your education, experience, and career much more than it is a ticket to a pay scale or stardom. Because it represents to each of us our own particular journey may be why we tend to be defensive about the use of the title. It is not about keeping the kids out.


    The one thing that seems to be a nasty part of the licensing process is intern exploitation. I had no idea how big an issue this is until Land8 came along. I don’t know how wide spread i is, but it definitely sucks.

    Christopher Patzke

    Put simply if there were no licensure society would have lower standards of safety and handicap access.  Licensure is meant to ensure health, safety and welfare.  It is not meant to validate ego, confirm artistic design ability or come free with the purchase of a degree.


    As a side benefit licensure provides our clients with a reasurance that we have a basic level of competance.  It also protects the reputation of landscape architecture as a profession.  Not everyone can do what we do.  Licensure reflects that.


    All respected professions have licensure requirements.  The fly in the ointment for architecture and landscape architecture is that compensation, benefits and workplace culture does not reflect the education and skills necessary to practice our craft. 

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    “It also protects the reputation of landscape architecture as a profession.”


    I’m much more skeptical that landscape architecture has a reputation one way or another as a profession. I do believe that a great deal of people respect what many of us do, but I more and more believe that we are seen as firms and individuals much more so than as a collective profession. I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing, either.


    I feel less and less tied with the success and reputation of the profession as an entity or where I fit within it. It is just too broad and my part in it or anything else is too specific to be that closely tied to it. I think it is actually that way for all of us, but I think too many cling to the hope that the profession is like an employer and expect that somehow it alone controls our individual destinies. It is like waiting for a bus to see where it is going to take you. Clearly, every successful individual and firm in this profession did not sit around waiting for that bus. They started walking, jogging, biking, or driving to get where they are.


    The notion that I am this and therefore I deserve to do that does not get us anywhere. It is more about what can I do that is already valued and what can I do to demonstrate my value to whomever can benefit from it. Names of professions or titles within them really don’t matter if you really think about it. Why else do so many other professions and non-professionals successfully get contracts to do “our work”?

    mark foster

    Great questions Andrew.

    What would you do differently tomorrow to move ahead in your career if there 
    were no landscape architect registration?  Except for the feeling of accomplishment and a small marketing edge, registration amounts to nothing more than a minor annoyance and cost (15 ceu’s/yr).   But, I am D/B– I am sure it is more valuable to others in different kinds of work.  So, I guess the answer is the same as alland’s, Jason’s “save some money and time”, and not have to go through the “theatre of the absurd” which is continuing ed.


    Should you be doing that anyway?  Absolutely.  Andrew is right on–the things that LA’s are good at (and can make a career frp,) is MUCH broader than what we are taught to believe is the “appropriate” career path.  And this to the newbies–always remember that your “institution of higher learning” (Ha!) has a venal interest in the career advice they give.  You are a potential advertisement for their university and they steer you toward a very narrow band-width of prestigious firms which will make them look better.  Take any career advice (including this) with a grain of salt, do what you want to do, and see licensure as a tool–not a door. 

    Finally,  I believe we spend WAY too much time (as a group) trying to figure out how to carve out markets with licensure, and far too little time exploring ways we can more effectively deliver service.    


    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    That is the best post that I have read regarding this issue.


    “exploring ways we can more effectively deliver service”


    This is what it is all about. Licensing is an extra that can support that quote, but many of us seem to be taught or come to believe that the stamp is where we need to put all of that energy and strategy into. We often plan our licensing instead of our actual careers.


    Actually, this is the best quote:


    “licensure as a tool–not a door”

    Amy Sommer

    Who is working for free even as an intern? Doing so hurts all of us as a profession.

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