Degree? Architect/Designer/Construction?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by LINKSCAPE, Apr 6, 2003.


    LINKSCAPE LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    Hello everyone. I've got a question for you guys regarding having a degree. At this point I've been doing lawn care and landscaping for 4 years but am considering attending Michigan State for either Landscape design/Construction or Landscape Architecture.....tough choice. For those who have degrees in either, could you let me know the benefits of having the degree versus not??? Did your reputation, clients and referrals grow faster than they otherwise would have and also were you able to apply what you learned directly to your business, or was it a lot of book work that was learned and forgotten? Also, as far as commercial work goes, how much more beneficial is the architectural degree than design degree in getting the work....and your knowledge? Also curious what kind of software you use. Thanks a lot! Any information anyone can give would be greatly appreciated!
  2. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,946

    I took classes at Portland Community College which offers 2 associate degree choices - landscaping, and landscape design.

    For someone that will do a business and be working in the field, its likely that the associate degree will produce a professional that is equally effective as someone with a bachelor degree.

    Maybe more so with the associate degree - sometimes the colleges with the 2 year program have teachers that have higher in-the-field experience.

    Do you want to be good at it? Or have the degree?

    I went for the education to know what I was doing, and because I enjoyed it.

    A 4 year degree includes a lot of non horticulture stuff. But that may be interesting to someone that enjoys those other classes.

    If I were to go for a 4 year degree for the credential, it would seem rediculous to not make a push for the 5th year and get a landscape architecture degree. That's if I was to work for myself.

    To get the architect license, you will need 7 years of experience.

    But if you will be a landscaper, you can still get that license, and its not illegal to state what your degree is in.

    In your own business, you would only need 3 more years to sit for the landscape architect exam, to be called a landscape architect.

    The architect degree should include what you need class wise to be a designer.

    Now in Oregon, and other places, you do not need a degree to be a landscape architect. One, you need 7 years of related work experience - landscaping, university grounds, landscape design, etc.. Two - you need to pass their exam. That could be from reading, but I doubt you could do it without at least a 2 year college program, and a small amount of reading.

    Go to school because you like it. Don't learn it if you can't use it. Learn what you can use and retain.

    Hardly anyone ever cares if I went to college. That's customers in first contact with me. They care if I know what I'm doing. They know because of the confidence and way you will dissect their landscape situation without hesitation.

    For me, I couldn't have got to that point without some college. And I don't think any college person can get there without experience.

    LINKSCAPE LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    Thanks Mdvaden, I agree with what you say about having on the job experience and how important it is. It's kind of funny how people in some fields go to college and get a degree in a field they have no experience in and then think they are a pro at it. Then when they get hired, they find out that they need another four years of on the job experience just to gain a level of comfort with what they are doing...experience is key. I'm leaning toward the associate degree program. I think it makes more sense since Im already runing a business. Thanks
  4. baddboygeorge

    baddboygeorge LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,249

    landscaping architects are great on paper but have no clue on the jobsite . i have argued with them over an over an once they get out to the job an ya show them whats up they get back in there truck with there heads down an go back to there office. when your rite your rite sorry .degrees are great but they damn sure dont beat on the job training !!
  5. promower

    promower LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,233

    A landscape architecture degree will be tough while trying to run a business. I almost obtained an architecture degree and talked with many LA students while going to school. There is a lot of time involved. Its the studio classes that will kill you. Projects that you are given a week to complete can easily exceed 25+ hours. My school was open 24 hours a day to work on projects. I'm not lying or exaggerating when I say I was awake for 47 hours straight (including short breaks, and food breaks) working a single project. Get ready for some tough dog eat dog schooling.
  6. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,778

    If you want to have a landscape contracting business, an LA degree is not the best one to get. It is a specialized degree in land planning with landscape design being a small part of that. It is not designed to make a landscape contractor out of you.

    I can not speak for the state or Oregon, but in most states the years of experience that you can apply toward sitting for the exam must be under full time direct supervision of a licensed landscape architect. In many states you need two years of that experience in addition to your degree to sit for the exam. The point is that you can not get that experience if you are owning your own landscape contracting business at the same time.

    Being a registered landscape architect is not going to significantly put you ahead of your competition as a landscape contractor. I don't know why someone would want to invest all that time and money in school, in internships, and exams to be an LA if you really want to be a contractor.

    Being an LA is a rewarding career and a very diverse field. There are some that are great landscape contractors as well. Many are great landscape designers while many suck.

    The LA field has its high end and low end just like any other field. The high end of landscape architecture is not the same as the high end of landscape contracting. Generally speaking, when a small to mid sized landscape contractor is working on a job done by an LA, he is less likely to find a good LA on the project. That is why many of you find that the LA's you run into don't know much.

    I am a Registered Landscape Architect that was in the landscape industry for 15 years before I got my degree. I worked in land planning after I got license doing almost no planting plans. It was fun well paid enjoyable work that required the training that I got. It had nothing to do with landscape design as a contractor would recognize it. I am in design/build now. It is the combination of my prior experience and the need for specialized expertise in dealing with environmental laws that give me value in this particular company.

    mdvaden makes a good point in that you should get the best training that is applicable to what you want to do. As we can see, most contractors don't know what a landscape architect is - a homeowner sure doesn't. Why would that homeowner hire an LA over an experienced contractor with a portfolio of nice built work?
  7. John Allin

    John Allin LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,488

    Now there's something you don't see much.... an LA with common sense. I knew there was something I liked about AGLA's posts.....

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