The Road to Becoming a Licensed Landscape Architect
Contributor: Janice Cena, CA
Licensure of landscape architects is controlled by individual states, and is a formal recognition of an individual’s skills and knowledge of the profession in order to practice without endangering the health, safety, or welfare of the public. Each state registration board determines the minimum amount of education and work experience required for eligibility to take the Landscape Architect Registration Exam (LARE). This process and its required documentation is a feat in and of itself—even before taking the actual exam!
How it Happens in Virginia
Here in Virginia, I’ve recently experienced this process. College transcripts, letters of recommendation from colleagues, and verification of professional work experience must be approved by the Virginia Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects in Richmond.
Once approved, the Council of Landscape Architecture Registration Boards supports the various state boards through the administration and grading of LARE. Three multiple choice sections test your knowledge of construction contracts and project administration; pre-design stages of a project; and the design and construction process. The exam wraps up with two graphic vignette sections that test your ability to produce and evaluate site design solutions, as well as your ability to complete grading, drainage, and stormwater management plans.
How Long Does the Process Take?
While it is possible for a candidate to sit for and pass all five sections of the exam in one year, this isn’t the usual scenario. The three multiple choice sections are offered each March and September, and the two graphic sections are offered in June and December. Passing on the first attempt—especially the graphic sections—is not the norm. Most candidates take several years to complete the “road to licensure.”
I’m Almost Done!
Last September I passed the first multiple choice section and last month I took the remaining multiple choice sections. I’m anxiously awaiting the results—any day now! If all goes well, I will take the graphic sections in Richmond in June and be a licensed landscape architect by the fall. The 12-week wait to receive my score on the graphic sections will be excruciating, but I’ll be extremely happy when it’s finished!
After performing all of the tasks associated with being a landscape architect for more than 20 years—and being a mom to four children in my spare time—achieving licensure will be a testament to my abilities, as it is considered the threshold to the profession.
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