Who is going to take your place when you retire?

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GENERAL DISCUSSION Who is going to take your place when you retire?

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    Jonathan Smith, RLA

    This may be a bit of a rant…you may not want to look if you’re squeamish.

    Rant:  Begin

    My background:  I’m 32; I live in Idaho; graduated in 2008; could not get a job; started a design/build firm; took LARE; failed LARE; repeat 3x; passed LARE; now licensed in Idaho.

    Great.  Now the fun begins.

    I’d like to be licensed in Washington (WSU/Pullman is 8 mi. away) expand into larger areas with more business/design opportunities.  My philosophy:  If my business isn’t growing, changing, moving forward…it’s slipping backward.

    To be licensed in WA, I need to
        a.)  Work for myself as a licensed professional for…6 YEARS
        b.)  Work for myself as a licensed professional for…2 years and under a licensed professional for the equivalent of one year
        c.)  Work under a licensed professional for three years.

    Here’s the problem with b.) and c.):  no one is hiring and they haven’t been for a few years now.

    Here’s the problem with a.):  6 YEARS!!!

    Why should you care about any of this?

    Rant:  Escalate

    Landscape architecture is ‘weak sauce’.  Though we’ve been told and tell ourselves that we have the keys to designing the future of our towns, cities, regions (and we do) we leave these tasks to architects, civil engineers, planners.  We don’t position ourselves to…well,to take it by the balls.  

    Every year we lose a wealth of LA talent, not to architecture, or engineering, but to KFC and coffee shops. 

    Wha?  Huh?

    We’re too nice and, because we haven’t positioned ourselves collectively to meet challenges and expand our profession, because we haven’t cultivated a place for tomorrow’s emerging professionals, we’ll continue to be the foster kid at the dinner table, taking what’s leftover to sustain our emaciated existence. 

    So, who’s going to take the place of retiring professionals?  Not the guy who has to wait 6 years for his business to grow;  not the disillusioned LA (“Can I help the next person in line, please…”) who couldn’t even get an interview; but the well connected and respected professionals: architects, engineers, etc.  They’ll take seconds of mashed potatoes and gravy.

    Ahhh..feels better.

    Rant:  Concuded


    Are they at least offering reciprocity through CLARB certification? I could understand if you have to take an additional section to meet the state’s requirement or something like that. But to make you start over again when you’re already a Landscape Architect is a crime.

    Jonathan Smith, RLA

    I can apply for reciprocity only after I meet the state’s requirements (see a,b and c). Since I just earned my license this year, any period of experience starts now…


    Consider trying to partner with someone who is already licensed in WA. If it is for a large project, it could be well worth it, and give you more clout. Even the big boys do partnerships for major projects and competitions. Hey, if you want to pursue work in Nevada, I’d be up for exploring a partnership agreement! Not that there’s a lot of work in Nevada right now!

    Heather Smith

    But coffee shops are so fun to work in!

    Thomas J. Johnson

    You were able to take the LARE right out of school in ID!? Most states require two years, that’s pretty standard. Be happy you can get licensed so quickly in ID and stop complaining about what the rest of us have to go through…

    What other states can you take the LARE right out of school…?

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    Read section 18. Not being licensed stops you from doing …… just about nothing other than calling yourself a landscape architect in the State of Washington.

    The good news is that your wife will be able to get reciprocity in three years if she works for you!

    Heather Smith

    Hey Thomas,

    I think the point is not just that he can’t get reciprocity but that others also have no way of moving forward professionally. I would like to know if ASLA or CLARB have thought about this issue yet…what happens when people have no way of even being hired…down the road engineers and architects will be more then happy to pick up the work that we are unable to do. I have plenty of classmates who can’t even sit for the exams and with no one to work under who knows when they will even have that opportunity? That isn’t right to me.

    Disclaimer, Jonathan is my husband. 🙂

    Andrew, That is good to know. We will have to read that carefully…we can use all the work we can get living in a town with 30,000 at best.

    Thomas J. Johnson

    Engineers and Architects aren’t busy either… I don’t think we’ll experience a shortage of Licensed Landscape Architects in the foreseeable future. If anything the ASLA / CLARB system is working perfectly. It’s protecting existing licensed Landscape Architects from the competition that would exist if every unemployed designer decided to take the LARE, now that it’s convenient and they have the time. The ASLA / CLARB is a club and a clubs worth is directly proportionate to the difficulty associated with gaining entrance to the club. Keep trying…

    Heather Smith

    So you think the entire point of CLARB is to minimize competition? Interesting…. I thought it was to ensure a minimum set of skills for a practicing LA…. If a student graduates from a BLA program why shouldn’t they be able to take the test? If the graduate wants to take the money and time to advance themselves professionally that way why shouldn’t they be able to?

    And we are glad we stayed in Idaho and in fact did in order to be able to take the tests. Cheers for us.

    Oh and Andrew we thought of that and thought how silly it seems! That I could get my license in WA if I pass the tests after working for him…I could beat him to it! haha

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    I really think that, although it seems stupid and frustrating, there is very little that not being licensed in Washington is going to prevent you from doing. You’ll learn that only some people have a clue that “landscape architect” is not just a fancier term for landscape designer. If you are doing design/build residential, you appear to be completely good to go in Washington. I only looked at the Washington law briefly, but it looked like you can also do:

    (6) The preparation of construction documents including planting
    plans, landscape materials, or other horticulture-related elements;
    (7) Individuals from making plans, drawings, or specifications for
    any property owned by them and for their own personal use;
    (8) The design of irrigation systems; and
    (9) Landscape design on residential properties.

    …. so what is it that you can’t do?

    Pretty much cancels out a Practice Act …. and pretty typical of most states. Practice Acts have more loop holes than a Christmas sweater. Most of the ones that I have read are a joke….. but the increased fees are not!


    Actually, CLARB is protecting the public from incompetent and dangerous designers who may endanger the public and/or property in public settings. It’s sole intent is to maintain a minimum set of standards in regards to the public’s health, safety and welfare.
    You are correct about ASLA. They are a club of self-congratulating academics and intellectuals who never address the actual ‘business’ of landscape architecture. Their mission is to maintain membership fees in order to justify their existence and print pretty pictures of projects in China in their publication. Their integrity is a joke. For example, years ago, you used to have to be a licensed LA in order to achieve ‘FULL’ membership. Now you just have to ‘pay up’ and bam…you are a full member. What a joke.

    Thomas J. Johnson

    This is turning into a pissing match which is not my intention. I did not say “the entire” point of CLARB is to minimize competition. The point of CLARB / LARE is to establish standard requirements, one of witch in most states is to apprentice under a licensed Landscape Architect for two to three years. I believe this requirement is beneficial to the profession as it accomplishes a few things; namely weeding out those who are unwilling to work hard for little pay in order to learn the craft (i.e. “paying your dues”), ensure a minimum knowledge base that protects citizens (health, safety and wellfare) and yes, those two combined protect licensed Landscape Architects from every new graduate instantly becoming competition. It’s called paying your dues. It’s not fun, it’s not easy, it takes time, but it’s important. You should be happy that you can get licensed in ID so easily. Consider yourself lucky and respect the requirements of other states. Feel free to get in the final word…

    Thomas J. Johnson

    Aren’t there limitations on square footage of projects and/or budgets that you can undertake as a “designer” as apposed to a licensed LA? Also, can you obtain insurance as a “designer”?

    Here’s WA definition of “Landscape Architect” and “Landscape Architecture”…

    (9) “Landscape architect” means an individual who engages in the practice of landscape architecture.
    (10) “Landscape architecture” means the rendering of professional services in connection with consultations, investigations, reconnaissance, research, planning, design, construction document preparation, construction administration, or teaching supervision in connection with the development of land areas where, and to the extent that, the dominant purpose of such services is the preservation, enhancement, or determination of proper land uses, natural land features, ground cover and planting, naturalistic and aesthetic values, the settings and approaches to structures or other improvements, or natural drainage and erosion control. This practice includes the location, design, and arrangement of such tangible objects as pools, walls, steps, trellises, canopies, and such features as are incidental and necessary to the purposes in this chapter. Landscape architecture involves the design and arrangement of land forms and the development of outdoor space including, but not limited to, the design of public parks, trails, playgrounds, cemeteries, home and school grounds, and the development of industrial and recreational sites.

    (1) It is unlawful for any person to practice or offer to practice in this state, landscape architecture, or to use in connection with his or her name or otherwise assume, use, or advertise any title or description including the phrases “landscape architect,” “landscape architecture,” “landscape architectural,” or language tending to imply that he or she is a landscape architect, unless the person is licensed or authorized to practice in the state of Washington under this chapter.
    (2) A person may use the title “intern landscape architect” after graduation from an accredited degree program in landscape architecture and working under the direct supervision of a licensed landscape architect.
    (3) This section does not affect the use of the phrases “landscape architect,” “landscape architecture,” or “landscape architectural” where a person does not practice or offer to practice landscape architecture.

    mark foster

    I would like to believe it is all about insuring competency, but I do think some of these state requirements smack of protectionism .

    Last I checked, my state won’t allow employment (under a landscape architect) in a design/build firm to count as professional experience toward licensure. I suspect this rule was enacted in part because the D/B firms were paying new grads an actual living wage, and the design firms lost their indentured servants.

    This is all the more frustrating when I see a HUGE market for LA’s in the field–especially in the medium/small markets. The pent-up demand for consciencous and professional D/B services is enormous, and LA’s could absolutely own this field. I know this because,I am still turning down work–even in these hard times.

    But, until then I guess our colleges could improve their curricula by adding a course or two on serving coffee and frying chicken. Or, how to draft sewer details for an engineering firm.

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