Why Become a Licensed Landscape Architect?
With patience, hard work, and a financial investment, becoming a licensed landscape architect is within reach of anyone practicing in the field no matter their age or number of years out of school. Not only does licensure bring one’s professional training to its logical conclusion, it offers many other tangible and intangible benefits:
- Assuming greater responsibilities and a leadership role in projects of greater scope and complexity, and with that, greater remuneration;
- Giving an advantage to newcomers in the field by having your supervision count toward their licensure requirements;
- Launching a private practice if you so choose;
- Becoming a more credible subject area expert when advocating for good design in your community;
- Building a stronger professional presence nationally, with greater numbers of licensed landscape architects relative to architects and engineers, helping to defend our collective right to practice.
CLARB (the Council of Landscape Architecture Registration Boards) oversees the LARE (Landscape Architecture Registration Examination), offering three, two-week long testing periods per year. The electronic exam is given at commercial testing centers across the US and Canada. Candidates can take the four sections separately or in combination. Pass rates for all four sections are about 70%.
For detailed descriptions of the four exam sections, see CLARB’s Orientation Guide.
What is Required?
While all 50 states have some form of licensure, there are differences between them affecting how soon you can sit for the exam, and whether or not the state’s licensing board must approve your license after you pass the LARE. Check individual state boards for this information. A map with links to all states is offered by CLARB.
When choosing the state in which you will pursue your initial license, also consider the following:
- Some states limit the number of years you have to pass all four exams once you start the process. For example, in Washington State you have five years, while in Texas, ten. After that you must begin the entire process again, even if you have passed three out of four sections. There is currently no aggregated resource comparing states in this regard, so do your due diligence.
- Some states have supplemental licensing exams which you must take after you pass the LARE. Examples include California and Florida. There is currently no aggregated resource comparing states in this regard. CLARB states that they are working to compile this data on their website soon. Ask your own state licensing board so you know what’s required beforehand.
- Annual fees to maintain your license vary from state to state. Check the fees of the state in which you choose to initially become licensed by looking at that state’s licensing web page. If or when you apply for licensure in a second state, you would be responsible for annual fees in each state in which you are licensed, unless you allow your original state to lapse.
- Continuing education requirements vary from state to state. While this would be insufficient reason to become licensed in one state over another, it is good to be aware of such requirements as a general matter.
LARE Prep Resources
CLARB exam prep resources are free. They include a recommended reading list, three YouTube videos (which date from 2013 but are still relevant) and the all-important Orientation Guide (check back for updated editions).
Land8: Landscape Architects Network
Cheryl Corson contributes free exam-related essays or webinars each year with a live, interactive Q&A session following each one. 2018 topics and dates are:
- An Interview with Recent Successful LARE Candidates
Q&A session, Thursday, October 4, 2018, 8pm-9pm EST
- Choosing a State for Your First Landscape Architecture License
- Comment or No Comment: What is That Mysterious Tab for?
- LARE Mix and Match – What Section/s to Take, in What Order
- How Different is the 2017 LARE?
Join the Land8 Group: L.A.R.E. – ANYTHING GOES
Google Groups LARE Exam
A free open discussion forum which can be incredibly supportive and informative, though can run aground if contributors too specifically discuss exam content (the entire list serve has been deleted in the past, possilby due to complaints by CLARB), or dwell on the negatives of the exam process.
A subscription based online resource offering access to exam questions simulating the LARE format. Two sample exams for each of the four sections are available for three-month subscriptions ranging from $22-$28. While the material is said by many to be useful, the writers and peer-reviewers of this material remain anonymous.
Corson Learning supports LARE Sections 3 & 4 (Section 1 forthcoming) through a series of on-demand videos covering study resource review, content review, and exam strategies. In addition there are live, interactive video Q&A sessions which are also recorded, a private online Member’s Chat room, a physical lending library, and email support from Ms. Corson. Annual membership fee is $175 per section, or $310 for two sections.
ALSA members have access to 15 CLARB sample questions for each exam section, discounted fees on three introductory exam videos created by LARE Prep Subcommittee volunteers, some pdf’s of pre-2012 Section C and E vignettes, and some Section 4 materials developed by Dr. Tom Neiman, Emeritus professor, University of Kentucky. ASLA annual membership is on a sliding scale between $65 (for first year graduates) and $370 for full members. There is a free online calendar of LARE Prep workshops which is incomplete at present. There is a pdf document comparing all 50 states’ licensure requirements dated April 2015. An updated version is expected soon.
Various private parties lead live LARE Prep workshops, some hosted by ASLA chapters. Check the Land8 Events Calendar, consult your ASLA chapter, or check Google Groups for possible listings. Cheryl Corson leads live workshops on request, listed on www.corsonlearning.com.
This page was written by Cheryl Corson, RLA, ASLA on 02/01/18