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Members of the Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) were recently surveyed about their career paths in landscape architecture. Responses were varied and had many insightful comments and suggestions, which will be shared and discussed with everyone here over the next few months.

The survey question we’ll focus on this week asked PPN members, Which sector do you find most rewarding to work in? To simplify responses, there were three possible answers for this question: the public sector, the private sector, or academia.

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Working in the public sector was deemed to be the most rewarding, selected by 42 percent of survey takers. The private sector was a close second, with 38 percent, and academia came in third with 11 percent.

As a follow-up, one might ask, how did the most rewarding sector line up with the sector that most survey respondents actually work in?

Of the PPN members who completed the survey, approximately 57 percent work in private practice, 23 percent in public practice, and 6 percent are in academia. Another 6 percent of respondents do both private and public work, and 8 percent have worked in all three sectors—private, public, and academia. This set of ASLA’s members who completed the survey gives us a relatively good microcosm of the profession as a whole: Based on responses to the 2010-2011 ASLA National Salary Survey, approximately 70 percent of the profession is in the private sector, 26 percent in the public sector, and 4 percent in academia.

Taking another look at our survey takers, there were 25 respondents who stated that they have worked in all three sectors: This select group with the greatest breadth of experience might be the most qualified to pick which sector is most satisfying. Looking at this subset of the results, 13 chose the public sector, four chose private, and five picked academia as the most rewarding kind of work.

“Other” was also a possible choice, and a handful of people wrote in either “all of the above” or a different answer.

Those in favor of multisector experience wrote:

  • “The mix of sectors is most appealing—you don't get bored.”
  • “Rewards from each are incomparable.”
  • “As of now, all are vital to my development.”
  • “I strive to help people realize their dreams whether that be through design or teaching. It's all rewarding.”
  • “I've worked in both public and private sectors. Public is embroiled in politics and limits opportunity and creativity.

Good to see both sides though!”Other favorite sectors to work in include:

  • “Non-profit botanical gardens and/or arboreta.”
  • “Community and, in particular, rural and underserved educational settings.”

In the next edition of LAND, we’ll review the reasons why different sectors were picked, exploring the many joys and challenges of different kinds of landscape architecture practice, and investigating why, though most ASLA members and most of the PPN members who took the survey primarily work in the private sector, the public sector was deemed to be the most rewarding.



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