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Thread: Eco restoration jobs and MLA or BLA?

  1. #1
    Member
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    Carrboro, NC
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    Eco restoration jobs and MLA or BLA?

    Hi,
    I have a BS in Ecology and have recently decided to study Landscape Architecture after working for a few years (managing exotic plants in the landscape and teaching abroad). My interests would be ecological restoration, sustainable development, or something environmental like that.

    I have two concerns:

    1 - Are there many jobs for idealists like me who want to do restoration or work on sustainable mixed use communities?

    and

    2 - I am trying to decide whether to apply to MLA or BLA programs. I only had a 2.9 when I graduated and am concerned about that. My GRE score was 1200 though, which is a little better.

    I don't want to teach, so would it really make a difference if I just got a second Bachelor's degree?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Mar 2006
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    athens, ga
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    That's a pretty popular area of focus, which means a lot of competition for the jobs, and perhaps somewhat depressed salaries for those jobs. I think your background would give you a leg up, though.

    I'd go for the MLA, personally. It should be faster than a second BLA. It'll also give you more standing in the scientific & government crowds. Finally, the typical hit on MLA grads as "not knowing the technical stuff" will also not affect you, since you're not aiming for a standard LA practice.

    I wouldn't be worried about getting into a program. While you have a low GPA, your experience will more than make up for it.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Are you interested in wetlands (mitigation work, restoration, etc.)? I would agree working towards an MLA over a BLA. A possible alternative degree to an MLA would be an ecology, natural resources, or other environmental degree (at the masters level). However, an MLA will offer much more flexibility.

    What do you want to do with sustainable communities? Have you considered just taking the LEED-AP exam?

  4. #4
    Member
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    Yes, I'm interested in wetlands construction and restoration. I'm drawn to an MLA over a Master's in ecological restoration precisely because of the versatility of the degree.

    In reference to the sustainability question, I have recently felt very passionate about decreasing urban sprawl and would be interested in designing spaces that make denser, mixed use communities more livable and attractive.

    I hadn't looked into the LEED certification, but after reading about it, it looks right up my alley. Thanks!

  5. #5
    Dan Staley's avatar
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    Dec 2007
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    Front Range, CO
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    I have a BS in Env Hort, master's included a year of Urb Ecol and close work in studios with MLAs, and an old GF used to work in wetland/upland restoration. I got out of plants and into planning (focus: green infrastructure) because of the pay scale, because it is more important to actually find places for greenery first than fix problems after installation, and the old GF had a terrible time advancing to a $35K/yr job without a master's.

    Not saying you shouldn't do what you love, but you'll want to think about being saddled up to your student loans for a long time and struggling for discretionary income with 'just' a restoration job. Sadly, restoration is way down the checklist for most projects and only crumbs are left (as often as not though, one or two crumbs are salary and job security).

    If you do it (again, it is important to do what you love), take some sort of class about project management and organizational management, because IME MLAs are lacking that skill, despite what they say about themselves [apologies to any MLAs with these skills]. Also go over to the Hort department and take the plant ID classes if you didn't do that for the undergrad (you'll have a leg up if you did, being able to actually identify plants and use them properly [no, really]). Also if there is a stormwater or brownfield class available in your too-packed schedule do those (esp stormwater with the NPDES rules coming on-line). And ensure you try your hardest to get time to do CAD, GIS, and InDesign/CS3 classes, so you can do side work.

    Good luck and go get 'em!

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Mar 2008
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    London, England
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    Well I personally think the BLA is a better all around education, but I do agree the time that you spend on getting it (typically 5 years) probably wouldn't be in your best interest. It seems like most of your focus in on environmentalism / sustainability (which has become a buzz word for the industry, but LA's have always been stewards of the land, but that's another topic all together). My recommendation would be to choose a program that has a very environmental focus and would also touch on some policy and legal aspects, maybe even working with a URP Program. Have you looked into Environmental Sciences for a Master's, this is much easier to get into and seems to be right up your environmental interest, although not so much your design interest.

    One last note about the LEED AP Exam. The USGBC is coming out with a point system for "neighborhood development". Although still in the works, this is going to be a great opportunity for us LA's to really get into the LEED Process. Hope this helps, message me if you need anymore information.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Jul 2006
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    Chicago
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    Take a look at Michigan, they have strong emphasis on ecology for their MLA, and also you can get a dual degree M.S. with other degrees such as Sustainable Development, Ecological Restroation, Environmental Science, etc. For your interestes I would strongly recommend looking at Michigan-Ann Arbor.

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