What's the R.O.I. on a LA liscensure?

Home Forums PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE What's the R.O.I. on a LA liscensure?

This topic contains 2 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Mark Di Lucido 5 days, 9 hours ago.

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    I’m finding it difficult to understand the return on investment for a professional license.

    Most of the information I find is inconsistent. . . some firms require a license to
    become a Project Manager — others don’t, some offer pay raises with licensure — others’ don’t, some will pay for it, some won’t. Most people at my firm were licensed at some point but haven’t kept up with the classes and fees.

    There seems to be a consensus that I’ll learn the profession with experience and that passing the test is mostly for the title, some job security (maybe), and some knowledge.
    I’m with a good company now but have no interest in having a long-term career in LA. And I have no interest in paying out-of-pocket for a license when that same money could be invested in a tax-advantaged account and compound for 30 years.

    Do you think a license shows that I’m “committed” and therefore puts me in the pipeline for promotions and raises?

    Would you recommend licensure for someone that will exit the profession the next 3-10 years?


    Leslie B Wagle

    You don’t say how far you are from having the components of getting a license. Is the “good company” one that will fulfill the experience requirements? You profile says professional but is your degree specifically LA? If there are more courses you need to take or you need to make an employment move or finish the exam, those are hurdles to consider. But if you only need to send in an application and a check, that is different.

    The part about not wanting to stay in the field is a bit of a puzzle. If you already know that, why be in it for 3-10 more years of postponing a start in another field? At any rate, licensing shows seriousness and is mostly suitable for people with a desire/passion and committment to almost a way of life. It also allows you to start your own practice with the title if you want to keep that option. Alone or in a bigger office, some people do well in the financial sense and others have to live modestly depending on the market they chose or find themselves in. (That could be true for anything). Since no one can read your future but it’s a safe bet that indifference doesn’t help…then on a financial basis alone, I’ll speculate that it’s not essential in your case.


    Mark Di Lucido

    You mention staying in the profession for three to ten years, yet your investment in a “tax-advantaged account” is for 30 years. Which is it? Any ROI scenario will vary greatly depending on your investment horizon. It will also vary depending on your disposable income which is in-turn dependent on what you bring to the table, the firm’s market size, how business savvy the firm is, specific needs of the firm (are you the only registrant there), the health of the economy, inflation rate, etc., so there’s no easy, accurate answer to your question. That said, a wild-ass guess for the earnings per year in 2018 a registrant can expect to make over and above a non-registrant might be at a minimum, $5,000. If you invested this amount instead of your “out-of-pocket” (exam costs) into pre-tax vehicles you’d earn a larger return over three years, a much larger return over 10 years, and an order-of-magnitude return over 30 years.

    In my 25 years of experience, registrants have always been paid more than non-registrants—all other talents and experiences being equal. However, being licensed doesn’t necessarily mean you’re “committed”, or for that matter that you’re a talented and hard worker. Or that you’re “in the pipeline for promotions and raises”. It means you’re probably a good test taker, you’re minimally qualified in the eyes of your state licensing board to practice landscape architecture, and that at one point in your life you were committed to professional improvement and the additional pay and opportunity licensure brings.

    Keep in mind that even if you stay in the profession for only three years, there are other kinds of ‘return’ on your investment: sense of accomplishment, a lot more time on the sharp-end (design and management) of projects, junkets to other cities for marketing and continuing education, etc. And when/if your “good company” becomes not-so good, being able to be hired at other firms more easily (as the saying goes, “sh** happens”), is important. There’s also the professional flexibility licensure brings. When the economy tanked, and trust me it will again, some LAs stayed afloat by designing commercial/municipal projects on their own. These types of projects require licensure

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