Working over 40 hours?

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    Pat S. Rosend

    I am dating myself, but my first job paid 18k. I didn’t take the job that offered me 16k:-)


    This was in the late 80’s. 3 years later BOOM. The market crashed and layoffs and paycuts later I was making less than when I started. It is an unfortunate part of the cycle. One difference was that I was able to leave for another job to get more stable work and a bit more money. I think that option has really disappeared for LA’s at the moment.

    Pat S. Rosend

    Ditto on the family issues. esp. at CE firms. No sympathy there. Last of the male old school management types I guess. The little women are better off at home taking care of those things rather than taking a “man’s” job. Blech.


    Also be careful about working from home or remotely. As the CE’s at my last firm found out. If you can do the work at home, they can send it to India for cheaper.

    Pat S. Rosend

    Or fund their staffing levels due to reduced development.


    Where I worked none of the younger workers ever worked very much overtime.  Only occasionally to finish a looming deadline in time, but that was pretty rare.  However, the associates and partners worked 24/7 it seemed.  


    There was a 3 week stretch where I was working on a project that required 12+ hour days, which I loved because it felt important and challenging…

    Other times a few of us had not much work to do which is the worst thing to deal with in an office.

    Zach Watson

    I would like to know, with the economy coming back and getting better what are the typical hours per week that you are working?  Is it more or less than what it has been the last several years through the recession.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    Two years ago I went part time at a civil engineering office in order to develop my own LA office. They have been steady all along, but cut out overtime in 2008. Their work load has not changed much since 2006 when I got there (different types of work, but equally busy)..


    I just gave my final notice on Wednesday because my LA office is too busy for me to commit to any hours with the CE anymore. I’m a one person office. I can’t tell you if I’m busier due to the economy or just due to becoming better known. I really don’t know.


    I’m hoping to settle down to a 40 hour week now that I’ve cut the part time (~22 hours a week).I had to over grow my work schedule in order to have the confidence that I could displace the other job. I think I have done that in a sustainable way.


    Ernst Glaeser


    It is said that we “Germans” work only 35 h/w and are still able to perform.

    What a joke! The 35 are wrong but the rest is correct.

    I’m over 40 years in business and hardly ever had worked less than 40 h/w. Record were 70+ when I was self-employed. My folks insisted in working to the book and got overtime paid.

    My first, until my recent contract, always emphasized that overtime is obligatory and expected and NOT compensated.

    Right now, over the last 10 years working in the MENA region, the standards are measly 48 h/w.

    At the end of the day it was too short. Weeks fly past and we are all struggling to get the work done on time. And a big portion of us are doing extra hours. All a question of responsibility and professional attitude.

    Have fun in the real world!!


    I agree whole heartedly with you! We need an overhaul and it needs to begin from the top down.  Shaking things up is how America was discovered and conquered by a bunch of quakers and pilgrims who dared fight against the strongest and most powerful nation at that time.  What happened in that scenario? The pilgrims won and now we all enjoy this great country called America! Its time for a Landscape Architectural Revolution by all of us pilgrims…


    Truest words spoken. Thank you for telling the truth. 


    Hi Andrew…….did you happen to see MY post about “over-time”.  Dang, I think I must have set a World Record.  In the first 27 yrs. of my LA career…I logged in a total of 8,000 hours of OT……that’s pretty close to (4) calendar yrs. of OT.

    Well, the LA firm I worked for in Dallas for 13 yrs. paid us (double-time) for OT hours – 4,000 hours of OT at that firm.  But, the salaries (I don’t believe) were really what they should have been.  We were buried with projects, so, we could work ALL of the OT we could stand.  From 1991, when I est. my own LA practice for about a 15 yr. period…I racked up another 4,000 hrs. of OT. And, well, when you’re freelance and buried with work….you get to do it ALL….Ha!

    Though, I think I sort of burned myself out….decided to move into “semi-retirement” at age 58 (5 yrs. ago)……but, I’m still designing – I’ll never fully retire…..just slowing down.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    4,000 over 13 years is only 6 extra hours a week. I don’t find that too ridiculous, but I guess that some weeks were a lot more and some were a lot less.

    I’ve only had 40 hour jobs as an LA except when I was apprenticing (for lack of a better word) when they put me on salary and then had me work 6 days at 10 hours each (taking advantage of the requirements for licensure – others worked 40). When I worked in CE offices we seldom went over 40, but I either worked part time for a design/build or worked many hours each week as a freelance LA (all with employer blessing) … a lot more than an average of 6 hours a week, but that was separate and not part of any job requirement.

    I work over 40 now as a self employed LA, but it is like Craig says – meeting clients, writing proposals, site visits, book keeping, designing … a mix between enjoyable things and must do things. Most of it does not feel like work.

    My question was mostly geared to work as an employee which you certainly did work a lot of hours. I’m just very curious how many hours an employee in the field of LA who is not in that required (exploitable) apprentice time needed to sit for LARE like I was are typically doing. I find it difficult to believe that so many are getting paid overtime while so many others are out of work.

    I would not be surprised if some are held to part time to avoid the expense of benefits. I really don’t know since I never went the big firm route.

    My interest has always been residential and small commercial to some extent and felt that there would be less pigeon holing in small firms which would not be a fast enough track for me having received my degree at 35. I also don’t think I was an attractive candidate for a big firm because others had more of the production skills that big firms were interested in than I did as I entered the profession. I was a landscaper before I got my degree and never had much interest in very large projects other than gaining skills that could help me when I got back to smaller site design.

    I’ve always wondered what the real situation is in the bigger firms rather than just relying on the stereotype put out by professors who, in many cases, kept one foot on campus since the day they left high school. The stories of having to routinely do “all nighters” with all of the other office staff seems a bit far fetched to me. Working an extra six hours a week seems reasonable since I rarely had a job that did not routinely go beyond 8 hours a day and at least some Saturdays prior to getting my degree.

    We don’t seem to get much information from those who are working as employees with several years of experience in these discussions. It is usually people early on in the profession, those who are looking back, those with government jobs, those who are out of work, and those who are on their own.



    Well….at the Dallas LA firm, I can recall putting in an avg. of 50 hours per month of OT…nearly every month or approx. 600 hrs of OT each yr.  So… that I’m looking back and crunching the numbers……but, looking at it conservatively, I know it had to be at least 500 hours per year.  I was in the office an hour before everyone else and often worked through lunch (pen in one hand – a sandwich in the other)….and then, there were many, many weekends.  More like, 15 extra hrs. per week.  Well, of course, I don’t have any records, so, I’m estimating here.

    Also, I really do feel “we” as employees were (to some degree) being taken advantage of.      I remember being told by one Partner, there was a “salary ceiling” of $30k + OT. That’s part of the reason I was pulling so much OT.

    Well, the more hours everyone put in, the more projects got designed, the greater amt. of billing. Well,  I did take with me….13+ very valuable years of LA design experience with me – which became invaluable to me in setting up my own practice.

    With my own LA practice beginning in 1991….I can recall putting in 10 to 14 hour days, 7 days a week….sometimes for 2 months in a row.  I even had to give up mowing my own lawn….no longer had the time.

    Well, I SHOULD have just expanded…..period.  I think looking back, I didn’t “balance” my time as well as I should have…but, when you’re “Freelance”, you have to be careful about turning down work – you could end up losing a client.  No regrets, just not sure HOW I really managed.  I have kept most of the original “mylars” of my projects since 1991….the largest was a multi-family community I designed in Columbus, Ohio….there were a total of (50) drawings in the LA set (24″ x 36″ size sheets)….all drawn “by hand”…and that didn’t include the sketches and preliminary color renderings I needed produce before I went to final contract documents.

    One thing I believe LA students and young LAs need to understand…..there WILL be some very long hours in this profession.  Though, I know there are firms that operate within a 40 hour work week.  But, it seems like these days…LA firms are a bit reluctant to hire….so, if there is an over-load of work or a tight schedule for getting a project out…some LAs are going to be putting in OT.

    One final comment on JOBS…for new LA graduates (an Internship job) would be a great way to get some experience.  But, I believe “legally”, interns must be paid….that non-paying internships are unlawful.

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