Should I go for the Architect degree

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by VisionLandscape, Nov 24, 2006.

  1. VisionLandscape

    VisionLandscape LawnSite Member
    Messages: 15

    Hi, Im new to the forums. Im a Landscape student in college. Im currently on the Landscape contractor degree. Ive taken courses such as Landscape design and soo on. But was wondering If I should go for the Landscape Architect degree instead. Is the Architect degree really needed. (My landscape design teacher doesnt think soo ). But I want to get all of your thoughts. What are the pros of having the Architect degree. Thank you

    (P.S. this site is great, very, very helpful).
  2. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,946

    If you think you will be focusing more on spending time indoors and at the planning table and computer, that would be a good idea.

    If you want to be outdoors, focusing on design and intall, then it's an option that may not add that much more to your results.
  3. PaperCutter

    PaperCutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,996

    Depends what you want to do. LAs are more involved in large-scale commercial and municipal projects; LDs tend to focus more on residential. If I had it to do over again, I would get my MLA, but then I would love to be able to do the large-scale sitework and such.
  4. huh

    huh LawnSite Senior Member
    from Lubbock
    Messages: 251

    Horticulture, Landscape Design, Turf Care, Landscape Architecture........all best learned outside the classroom

    as someone with a Hort degree I really don't think a ton of Landscape Architects......BUT their drawing degree allows them to obtain licensure and then stamp expensive plans that tell others who will actually do the work where to put I may one day obtain an MLA just because of that

    so I would say go for the L.A. degree.....then if you want to know something about plants work in a nursery like everyone else....or do small installs......when times are tough a Landscape Architect can't get a mowing job (they would die in the heat)....but when times are good they bank in the A.C. for making fancy drawings with a stamp and handing them off to others to put up with!

    get the L.A. Degree and a minor in Hort. and work at a retail nursery part time while in will be on your way
  5. Team-Green L&L

    Team-Green L&L LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,775

    A Landscape Architect will receive his jobs from guys like us and site developers that have sold a job that requires a great amount a structural specifications. Their workday is at a desk with a pencil and compass. It is a much higher paid field, but the work is much more grueling.
  6. Grn Mtn

    Grn Mtn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 863

    GET THE DEGREE. you can still design when your 60 but lifting a shovel gets a bit old at that point.

    also work in the field as suggested, because it seems so many of the LA's design with plants that don't exist or in the real world make no sense why they would place something somewhere. IE a nice commercial building with lots of foot traffic had the PJM's placed in the back of the building? How are the pedestrians going to smell the plant from the front!
  7. Team-Green L&L

    Team-Green L&L LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,775

    I 110% agree. The construction field will wear you out before you're 50. What are your plans after? We are in desperate need of good LA's for the very same reason.
  8. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,946

    Most guys with a BS in a landscpape field, once they succeed, rarely lift a shovel if they start the company when young and plan the company growth right.

    So the shovel call seem heavy if you plan your life to keep it in your hand.

    If you go the Landscape Architect route, the schooling time is going to keep you out of the field doing hands-on for a bit longer.

    I think any of the degrees are great.

    Even a 2 year degree will provide the tools for a good size businees.

    There are guys in Portland that have virtually no college and have several crews.

    Do your want to be doing residential, or commercial?
  9. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,776

    It all depends what you want to do and what other curriculum is available to you. There is getting to be a lot more landscape contractor training available at the college and university level than there was ten or twenty years ago. You used to have two choices at that level - horticulture or landscape architecture. Horticulture was much more geared to nursery production and landscape architecture to larger scale site planning.

    There is still a lot of misconception of what the typical training is in landscape architecture. Many beliece that it is mostly planting and hardscape design. These are important parts of it, but are more the tools to accomplish the finishing touches of site planning rather than the main focus.

    If you want to be a design/build landscape contractor and you have already started a business, I would say that an LA degree is most likely not the best route for you. One important reason is that you probably will not want to give up your business to intern for a licensed LA for two years which is a requirement in most states if you want to get licensed. It is also going to spend a great deal of your time in school studying things like regional planning, road design, large scale campus and park design, and a whole lot of things that you are not going to have a lot of use for as a contractor. You will not be learning how to run a contracting business, about hiring help, landscape maintenance, and other things that are more directly related to being a contractor.

    On the other hand, getting the LA degree, interning, getting licensed, and gaining experience in larger scale design and project management gives you the opportunity to start your own LA firm. Then you may design these bigger projects (or not so big projects) and manage the projects. Managing the projects includes hiring contractors, checking their work, approving payment, and all the things that a design/build does without having your own construction equipment and laborers. Project management is a tough business, but it often pays off with 10-20% fee of the gross cost of the project, sometimes in addition to what you were paid for the design work. Thats not an easy place to get to, but it is low overhead and big money, yet with big responsibility as well.

    A lot of landscape contractors are going to run into some small scale LA's who do residential and/or commercial landscape design on the scale and within the scope that many design/build contractors do themselves. Often times with less knowledge and experience than those contractors. Then those contractors relate all landscape architects to be of that same mold and assume that they sit in airconditioned offices drawing pretty plans that are also pretty cheesy. The thing to remember is that the ones that are working on higher level projects are not likely to be giving up 20% of multimillion dollar projects to do $50k residential landscapes or strip mall designs. The bulk of landscape work is done in the under $100k category, so few landscape contractors are being exposed to the LA's that are working the higher end of the LA business leaving them to gain their impressions from those working on moderate residential and small commercial projects.

    I happen to work in the moderate residential and small commercial market myself when I am not doing civil site plans, so I am not dissing anyone. I'm just telling it as I see it.

    It all comes down to what you want to do and how soon you want to be self employed. To have your own higher end LA firm is going to take the LA degree, interning, passing the licensing exam (not that easy), and working as a project manager for someone else for several years. In the end, you can make staggering amounts of money with relatively little overhead.
  10. lawnangel1

    lawnangel1 LawnSite Senior Member
    from KY
    Messages: 601

    My best friend was an La and I seriously considered doing the same thing. I researched it alot and attended several classes. I found out that as an LA you will do extremely large scale commercial projects. You will not be focusing on actual landscape planting designs, you will deal with soil types and grades things of that nature. Actually thinking out where to put plants in something you design will be one of the least time consuming and thought out processes you will do. The project a class was working on when I went and visited was how to put a 600 unit apartment complex on a 60 acre arboretum without letting the arboretum lose its natural beauty. All I'm trying to say is that dont let the name fool you, the majority of your work will not be doing actual landscape designs. Thus I opted for a turf degree.

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