July 29, 2010 at 10:36 pm #168443
Is anyone out there currently working without completing their degree?
Were you able to find good positions and opportunities without the ‘piece of paper’? Were you offered significantly less salary/wage?
What do you see as the most substantive downfalls, if any, to working (for a year or two out of school or more) without a B(S)LA or MLA?Assume you have taken and passed all the studios, but have a few outstanding general courses you dont have the time or money to complete. I’m not talking about interning while in school.
Thoughts?July 30, 2010 at 3:52 pm #168466
Thomas J. JohnsonParticipant
What up ACE?
You’ve got crazy, mad skills so you shouldn’t have any problems finding work. The only drawback I can see is that if you don’t have the piece of paper, you cannot accumulate time towards sitting for the L.A.R.E. The L.A.R.E clock doesn’t start ticking until you’ve got the degree.July 30, 2010 at 4:17 pm #168465
It varies by state, but most states you CAN get licensed without the degree. However, many states require a LONG time, like 7 years (!!!) of work experience before you can take the test, verses 2-3 with a degree. You may well find a job, but with the economy still sucking, and a large amount of BSLA. MLA, and experienced designers still looking for work, I would say its worth figuring a way to get those last few credits. Right now, while you may not have the money, if your not currently working, its worth the time it takes- The extra semester in class might save you 4 years of waiting to get licensed.July 30, 2010 at 5:01 pm #168464
The thing is I’m working and saving money and facing huge loan debt. So, I would need to stop that income flow and pay tuition out of pocket. So, it’s pretty much not an option at this point.
I think in Colorado the rule is something like ten years under a licensed LA to sit without degree. I would think I could appeal for less time or at least have no problem if I reach the ten year point by petitioning the board with a letter stating the amount of educational credit completed.
Really 7-10 years doesn’t seem so long. I should have at least 1-3 already accumulated if that’s the case. Regardless, I think you’re right Frank that if I had the time it’s worth it, even if only for the piece of mind in having a degree.July 30, 2010 at 5:12 pm #168463
I know a great LA that never got a degree – came out of engineering, worked in the field for 10 years, easily passed the LARE, became a partner by her late 30’s, so it can be done.
What about a class at a time? I got the impression you only have about a year left??? I know tuitions are ghastly right now.July 30, 2010 at 5:23 pm #168462
Thanks Tanya, that’s good to hear. Since I’ve asked here and at other sites I’ve read several similar responses, which is encouraging. I have less than a year, maybe a semester worth of courses–math mostly, lol. So far I’ve been getting by just fine without the math–land use calcs, floor area ratios, grading–I’ve designed probably more than a dozen parking lots by now and I can do it in my sleep–30, 60, or 90 you name it., lol.
I guess I’m most curious about how hiring managers may ‘leverage’ the lack of a degree against the market and average salary. With all the ads coming up on the ASLA job board ‘requiring’ MLA I have to wonder where a firms priorities are in terms of hiring qualified staff and who is writing the job description, HR? Or perhaps it’s just a way of filtering applicants. I realize this discussion has been brought up, but I think it’s a valid concern.July 30, 2010 at 5:28 pm #168461
You might find this article reassuring…July 30, 2010 at 5:50 pm #168460
That’s a great article Mandy! And not just because it supports my position, because I’m already in a deep whole of debt from lots of higher education.
I would agree that it is NOT equitable in many cases for students these days to attend college unless they have a specific career in mind, which usually doesn’t happen until later in life.
Opponents might say that traditional brick and mortar colleges prepare you to ‘think’ and I would agree. I think through my experience in several traditional colleges I have learned to think more critically and objectively about the world. I have also picked up a number of marketable skills in the process. Still I see many shortcomings, particulalrly for undergrads in other degree programs.
There has been a growing movement toward vocational and ‘for-profit’ (I dont really get that term since brick and mortars are also ‘for profit, regardless of their official state/federal status) community colleges and online schools. The philosophy being that community colleges offer more tailored education specifically for a particular career field. Essentially, you could learn to be a Landscape Architect without the ivory tower. I would argue that most community colleges may teach you to be qualified to DO landscape architectural work, but not BE a Landscape Architect –the subjective components are lost which is so important to architectural design.
Still, I think the greatest barrier to an evolving socio-economic landscape may NOT be so much the stigma associated with non-degreed, intelligent/qualified people, but the obvious schism which divides the ‘educated’ and ‘non-educated’ and the standards which support it. I think there could be more resources for people who fall in the socio-economic ‘gap’ which I think the private sector basically rules today–though there’s a slew of arguments lying therein on the pitfalls of for-profit entities.
I find it interesting that there seems to be a movement toward in other industries in which companies, when forced to tighten their belts, hire anyone with the requisite skill set to make them money over the ‘traditionally qualified.’ Still, high school students are encouraged to go to brick and mortar colleges, ivey’s they can’t afford, and grad school that adds an arguable value to that persons professional potential. It all comes down to risk vs. reward I suppose, but are we being honest with ourselves or just perpetuating a fable?
All the while, I’m seeing more and more job listings requiring MLA’s plus, plus.
How much is a degree really worth these days?July 30, 2010 at 5:55 pm #168459
My experience is with small firms – between 6 and 15 employees – as an employee and observer, not an owner.
Job descriptions seem to magically describe someone the owner has met and liked. In a small firm everyone does a little bit of everything, so official job descriptions aren’t very official and don’t appear to be the basis for wage – time spent at the firm and increased project responsibility seem to be the more tangible basis of wage, plus contributing to bringing in the project under budget.
In my experience, yes, the lack of degree until you are licensed is sometimes used as leverage for the employer to pay you less. On the other hand, who wants to work for a firm like that?July 30, 2010 at 6:02 pm #168458
What would really be a good idea is combining a firm and a school. Ok ok I’m enamored of the Taliesin idea, but wouldn’t that be a great solution to the cost of higher education? It would be a much more refined skill set than community college / votech and if your state requires 10 years of experience w/o degree, then you would only be putting in one extra year than a MLA (6 yrs school + 3 yrs work to qualify for the LARE).July 30, 2010 at 7:15 pm #168457
In this current economic climate, it’s an employer’s market. They have their pick of the best and the brightest and yes, it does frustrate me to see job listings requiring MLA’s plus, plus, plus……., but, if I were in their position I would be doing the same thing. Not having the MLA or BLA or whatever skills they ask for puts you behind the eight ball and gives them a reason to weed you out. That’s the reality and it sucks.
That’s why I have decided to take the plunge and apply for grad school come August. Will it prove to be a worthwhile investment…probably not. Will I be in six figure debt for years after graduation…very very likely. Will I have better prospects for a better job with higher wages…who knows. It’s crazy, I know, since everything is pointing at what a bad investment this is, I’m still going to do it!
I have to add my financial position is probably a lot better than yours Nick. I graduated with my BLA with no debt and have been saving for Grad school since.
Getting back to the topic of licensing, so according to the LARE, an MLA/BLA is = to 4-5 years of professional work experience….I don’t think I agree with that….July 30, 2010 at 7:38 pm #168456
I also like to add that when I graduated with my BLA, it was the beginning of the decline. I got interviews, no problem, but what I wasn’t getting was the actual job because I graduated lacking technical skills to jump right into whatever positions they were offering. It took me 6 months to land my current job. Within those 6 months, I took an ACAD class at my local CC, took on an unpaid internship, and taught myself photoshop, indesign, illustrator…..Because of that experience, I told myself I will never allow myself to be in that position ever again and I do everything within my capacity to be ahead of the game.July 30, 2010 at 7:42 pm #168455
In colorado its B(s)LA + 2 or 3 years.I think that’s probably reasonable..I guess..and 8-10 years without a degree..which seems sort of absurd, like CLARB is placating to academia. There sin’t much correlation in my opinion between what I ‘hear’ is tested for on the LARE and academic curriculum, but what do I know?
Not to be a debbie-downer, but what’s the point of getting the MLA then? You already outlined your reasons not to. Is the opportunity cost worth it? Perhaps..?
It still seems logical that an employer is going to make the judgement call on whether a candidate has the requisite skills to earn money for the firm based on proven skill, not necessarily knowledge as the article points out. Thats why I think it’s important (for me) to work in a place where I can continuously add to my portfolio–whereas others might think it’s better to have the firm (or school name) name on the resume.
I don’t know what the ‘right’ answer is..July 30, 2010 at 8:33 pm #168454
For me personally, grad school, I feel, will be a way for me to kind of “restart”/”reignite” my career. I don’t think the type of work I’m currently doing professionally will lead me to what I’m ultimately seeking. I’ve tried applying for other jobs to no avail. So where do I go from here…I can 1) wait it out…cross my fingers and hope what I’m so desperately searching for will appear and I will be the the candidate that they choose, or 2) I can go to grad school, wait for the economy to ride itself out while I’m in school and at the end of it, add MLA to my resume. If you can’t buck the trend, sometimes you have to go with it.
Seeing job listing with MLA requirement over and over and over again is disappointing. I don’t want to allow people to disqualify me because I lack that piece of paper.
I’ve been told by architects that after 5 years in the business, it doesn’t matter if you have that extra degree…I’ve also been told by a LA that you won’t be promoted at certain firms if you don’t have that extra degree…who should I believe…I don’t know…July 30, 2010 at 8:40 pm #168453
The degree is a demonstration to employers that you can be taught something and maybe more importantly can complete something. My first job I learned tons and my college degree just set the foundation to grow on, but I wouldn’t have got that job with out the degree. I worked with a person with an architecture degree doing landscape architecture jobs because of this, he wasn’t being paid the same and prime jobs would not go to him which are related, why? Inevitably, when talking with clients they want to know, “where’d you go to school?”, once they found out his degree was in architecture, questions come up, is he qualified, why isn’t he working in architecture, why am I even hiring a landscape architect?, the owners didn’t want to put him or themselves in that situation, thus he couldn’t do the same work a person with a degree in LA could do, in clients the eyes, thus they weren’t going to pay him the same. I could see the same scenario, even more so, happening to some one without a degree. Truthfully, junior level staff aren’t going to be the face of the firm to a client, but in the future could hinder advancement.
Its been over 10 years since I graduated and I’m still paying off student loans, but without the loans I couldn’t have the life and career I have now. My financial planner tells me its the best debt to have, its an investment in marketable skills, yourself and its something that can never be repossessed or foreclosed upon.
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