What To Call Yourself or I Like Poking Sleeping Bears with Sticks

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GENERAL DISCUSSION What To Call Yourself or I Like Poking Sleeping Bears with Sticks

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    Jarrod D. Lee

    The battle continues to be waged over what “those of us who are not yet registered” may call ourselves.  I saw a post about this in the Pro Practice forum, but thought it was also appropriate as a General Discussion.


    I took a look at a few state’s codes to see just what the language states.  In short, one cannot call themselves a Landscape Architect if they have not met the state’s requirements for registration.  A Landscape Architect is defined as one who meets the requirements and performs or holds himself out as capable of performing any of the services or creative works within the definition of landscape architecture.  Here in lies the problem.  If you call yourself a Landscape Designer, but perform activities that are associated with the field of Landscape Architecture, you are still breaking the law because you are doing work that is only delegated to be performed by a Landscape Architect.

    I understand that some LA’s might get pissy about me calling myself a Landscape Architect. I also understand the legalities of title and practice terminology. I went to school and got my degree in Landscape Architecture, not Landscape Design. Anyone can call themselves a Landscape Designer. If you went to school and got a degree in Accounting, you would call yourself an Accountant, but not a Certified Public Accountant.

    I understand and appreciate what our profession and lawmakers are attempting to accomplish, and at the time, late 60s, early 70s, the terminology made sense.  I’m not sure how many of you reading this are searching the job boards, but you have probably run across the title Network Landscape Architect.  Language changes over time and laws must change as well.

    I think that we as a profession are missing the forest for the trees.  It’s the qualifier that matters, the word or phrase before what you are…Registered, Certified, Professional, Doctor.  As much as I hate to have to say this, the onus for choosing the correct professional to perform a job should be placed on person or entity seeking someone to perform work.  Yet, all consideration should be afforded them by lawmakers and those practicing the particular work being sought.

    As an example, I would like to put forth a fictional character, Dr. Johnny Fever.  For those who don’t know who this is, look up WKRP in Cinncinati, a 1970’s TV show.  I don’t think that anyone would question his qualifications as a Doctor of Rock and Roll or whether he could operate the equipment and perform all the tasks required of a disk jockey.  Today he would probably be “grandfathered” in and awarded whatever certification is required, but unless he earned a PhD or legally changed his name, he cannot use the qualifier of Doctor.

    Simply put, I received a degree in Landscape Architecture and perform Landscape Architecture.  Therefore, based on the definition of one who performs Landscape Architecture, I am a Landscape Architect.  What I am not, is a Registered Landscape Architect.   If I perform work and do not disclose whether I am registered or not I should be held at fault.  It’s the qualifier that matters, REGISTERED.


    This is something that the our profession needs to settle once and for all.

    Heather Smith

    Well it isn’t going to be settled here. haha.

    Jennifer de Graaf

    First, you are a designer, but I don’t see any images on your resume – so I assume that they don’t get to see any samples of work until/unless they call for an interview?  Back in the day, resumes were just type, but I think those days are over (in my humble opinion).


    Second, please see this recent thread and this website (written for California, but I think it is pretty on-target) about titles for licensed vs unlicensed people.  


    good luck in your job hunt!



    Jarrod D. Lee

    Yes, I am a designer, an artist, an engineer, a golf course architect, a spec writer, an ecologist, yada yada yada.  I understand that the debate is not going to be solved here.  The document that Jennifer posted from California is quite clear.  That should be a national standard.  Although, I disagree with the Golf Course Architect portion.  There is quite a lot more involved in their design and construction than most people think.  Tennessee has made the attempt to define what can be done by registered vs. unregistered individuals.  I haven’t had to worry about since there isn’t any work, but it has a square foot maximum (which is huge), you can’t design anything taller than 3 feet and no permanent dwellings.


    I am not really in disagreement with the architect/designer thing.  I only mean to state the obvious.  If one performs Landscape Architecture does that not make one a Landscape Architect by default?  It certainly does not make one a Registered Landscape Architect.  Maybe I will take to calling myself an Architect of the Landscape until I wrap up my tests.  I plan to call myself a Registered Landscape Architect when I am registered though.


    Jennifer, if you are referencing my resume posted in the other thread, I only posted the text portion, no project list or work samples.  And yes, the days of a typographic resume are long gone.

    Brett T. Long

    Sorry, Jarrod. One is not a landscape architect by merely performing work requiring registration. If you are performing work that is defined by a state’s Practice Act, without direct supervision by a Landscape Architect, you are breaking the law. It is unfortunate, that you feel your postulate is obvious, when you are absolutely incorrect. The laws are clear and calling yourself an “architect of the landscape” is also a violation of the state codes in which I practice. You are missing the trees for the trees. Read all of the codes. The laws maybe inconvenient for you now, but you may see them differently when you have completed your registration.  There is no gray area as several posts have indicated.  There is no real debate, only individuals unhappy that a degree doesn’t cut it. 

    Christopher Patzke

    Perhaps we need better practice laws and stricter enforcement of practice laws to encourage licensure and secure the profession.  The title arguements have become a bit circular.


    For the record I believe in the title laws despite being a landscape stylist and not a Landscape Architect [ for the moment…one more exam to pass…grading : ( ]

    Jon Quackenbush

    Simply put, I received a degree in Landscape Architecture and perform Landscape Architecture.  Therefore, based on the definition of one who performs Landscape Architecture, I am a Landscape Architect.  What I am not, is a Registered Landscape Architect.   If I perform work and do not disclose whether I am registered or not I should be held at fault.  It’s the qualifier that matters, REGISTERED.

    I pretty much agree with this sentiment.  I have performed every task that an RLA does, sometimes not as fast (grading still takes some focus) but typically with the same well thought out quality, save for stamping a drawing (which the principal does most of the time anyway).  If it walks like a duck…

    I don’t use the title LA obviously for legal reasons, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t think I am one at the core. 

    BTW, I applaud you for the way you have put your head on the chopping block the past couple of days by both opening yourself up for critique on your resume (which I am sure is coming together nice based on the good comments you received) and now this.  Though this isn’t like poking bears.  Bears aren’t a**holes, they just like honey.


    Jon Quackenbush

    If by typographic resume you mean on a typewriter, that actually may be a really cool way to set yours apart.  It would be a pain to revise, but it would look cool, anyway.  I have a 1920’s Underwood typewriter that i use sporadically because I love the sounds it makes.

    I was given the thing and it was in awful shape, keys gunked, ribbon dried, it was missing a foot.  I took it to one of the last remaining typewriter repair guys seemingly in the world (and he was pretty old) and now it is cherry.  Really cool piece.

    Jarrod D. Lee

    I think many are taking this discussion a bit to seriously.  As I stated before, I agree with Practice Laws.  I am merely trying to pointing out that the language needs to be more clearly defined.  I want to give one more example…Those of you who were in high school in the 80’s will probably remember this…If you get a girl pregnant you are a father, but to really be a father you have to take responsibility for the child.


    By definition of TERMS (posted below) I am a Landscape Architect.  By definition of LAW, I am not a Landscape Architect.  I just feel that those of us who have chosen this profession should be more adamant about what qualifies one as a professional or an amateur.  I want to commend those who have passed the tests and can now refer to themselves, legally, as a Landscape Architect.  I must now go and study for those tests because I have Sections C and E in a couple of weeks.


    Landscape Architect: One who performs or holds himself out as capable of performing any of the services or creative works within the definition of landscape architecture.

    Landscape Architecture: Any service or creative work, the adequate performance of which requires
    landscape architectural education, training and experience; the performance of professional services such as
    consultation, investigation, research, associated planning, design, preparation of drawings, specifications and contract documents, and responsible supervision or construction management in connection with the development of land areas where, and to the extent that, dominant purpose of such services is the preservation, enhancement or determination of proper land uses, natural land features, ground cover and plantings, naturalistic and aesthetic values; the determination of settings, grounds and approaches for buildings and structures or other improvements; the determination of environmental problems of land relating to erosion, flooding, blight and other hazards; the shaping and contouring of land and water forms; the setting of grades, determination of drainage and providing for storm drainage systems where such systems do not require structural design of system components, and determination of landscape irrigation; the design of such tangible objects and features as are necessary to the purpose outlined herein, but shall not include the design of buildings or structures with separate and self-contained purposes such as are ordinarily included in the
    practice of architecture or engineering.

    Jordan Lockman

    I think that it is really simple. Use the name Landscape Designer before you get your license and let the goal of being able to call yourself a Landscape Architect be the motivation that gets you through those awful tests…

    That is what I did and it was annoying, but I was really motivated… I would also much rather be a landscape designer than an Intern Landscape Architect, LA in training, or the like. When I worked design build I wanted to sound like I had achieved a title and are not hoping to someday achieve one. So landscape designer works great…

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    Intern Landscape Architect. That is what you are, so why would you be in search of calling yourself something different? That is what I put on my resume when I worked for an RLA before I got licensed. … and I use/d the description of the job that I was doing (ie, site design, landscape design,…) for landscape architecture type jobs where neither I or my boss was an RLA.


    It is pretty simple.  ….unless you are insecure.

    Alan Ray, RLA

    RLA and LA are the same where title laws exist.


    Just poking the bears as I stumbled on this thread.

    Who’s to say Intern Landscape Architect is right, what about Interim?  Land Planner? Associate Landscape Architect? Landscape Architect in Training?  Are you in College Anderew G?  Are you working for your required internship at college under a LAAB program.  If not, then what is a Intern LA?  This would still violate Title Laws in some states.  Who says the aformentioned titles are even ok to use.  Anything that would give the notion of LA services would violate Practice Laws which in turn is against Title Laws.  Point being, check with your state board for approval on any titles used.. . .employers included if there is any questions.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    I’ve been licenced for 11 years. When I list where I have worked in the past, the above descriptions are what I write.

    When you step back and look at the discussions about what one should or should not call himself it seems pretty clear that there is an insecurity and impatience out there in our profession. Perhaps because it is such a long process, this exists. People want the title more than anything else. Part of the reason that it is coveted, in my opinion, is because it takes such a big investment in time, effort, and money to achieve. When you get so close to the end of that rainbow and get delayed (not getting the internship to sit for the exam, or not passing the exam as quickly as you hoped, or having a few credits short of a degree,…) the impatience can really take over and some get so frustrated that they try to justify what they know is not right.

    The important thing to remember on the job hunt or in practicing your craft is that those who really know about “landscape architecture” know all about the process of earning the license. They are not insecure about people who are “in process”, however they are wary of character issues of those looking to work with them. Be comfortable with your achievements, but if you are not, it is yourself telling you that you need to do more preparation. You will be vetted out, so it is far better to have smaller brick house hold up to the fire than to have a castle made of gas soaked paper.

    Do you really want to work for someone who you need to embellish your history to in order to be considered? I don’t. Disappointment is almost always due to greater expectations than what is realized. Setting false expectations is a great setup for disapointment, both in terms of others being disappointed in you and you being disappointed as well.


    It is much easier to fool ourselves than to fool others.


    Heather Smith

    I think we can look at this discussion more narrowly as Jarrod has stated he would give himself the title of Landscape Architect in his job hunt. I think he hurts his own chances in that case.  I am not sure what the point of this conversation is, as he seems to think this is the way to go…so go for it. See how it works for you.

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