Just registering and taking the LARE is up to around $2000 at current prices, and CLARB keeps raising them.
Some people do not necessarily need to take a prep class. I would advise people to get some basic information via a class or at the very least pay attention to the available free resources available thru CLARB or the ASLA web site or your local chapter or state licensing board. I do a free 1.5-2 hour overview every year fro the Northern California Chapter that covers everything that 2 or 3 of the webinars (at $80 a pop) available on the ASLA website cover. Such basic information can save you a nasty (and not inexpensive) surprise. Don’t sit for the exam and expect that passing will be a breeze because you did well in school are your life.
There’s no real reason to rush into getting your license unless you plan to go into business for yourself. I waited more than 3 years before I sat for the exam (dark ages ago), took a brief prep, which was helpful to understand what I was getting into, but not much more, and I studied and practiced a lot. Worked for me. I can safely say that I thought I knew a lot when I got out of grad school. The real world disabused me of that attitude…experience is a great educator.
There are individuals who would definitely benefit from a well-prepared preparation class. There are many people in the profession who are in planning or a niche government job, or who have worked only in residential design, or who have been pigeonholed by their employer for 2+ years and have not had the breadth of experience to navigate the plethora of subjects covered by the LARE.