Which of these fields is the least hard hit?


I cannot decide between these three fields. But before I jump into a program and spend up my savings, which of these three fields is the least hardest hit? 



Urban Planning/Urban Design



Aug 27, 13 11:18 am

Landscape > Interiors > Urban Design

Aug 27, 13 12:09 pm

I'd put interiors last. Below garbage man. Well, maybe not last, still above lawyer, politician, banker, arms dealer. 

Aug 27, 13 12:57 pm

I rank them by where I see the action and the money going these days. All the IDs I know are pretty busy and doing well. The landscrape folks are making out like bandits it seems sometimes. Also, I should amend the list to be inclusive:

Industrial Design > Landscape > Interiors > Architecture > Urban Design

Do keep in mind that this is all very fluid. Don't make a career study choice based on it. The relative order can and does change fast and often.

Aug 27, 13 1:02 pm

Wow. Not what I expected. By urban design, really I meant planning. I was going for an MUP with a specialization in Urban Design and then top it off with an MUD. But that's a lot of schooling and a lot of debt.

Urban Planning/Design was my top choice, but I already have a bachelors degree in a pretty worthless field and only want to go abck to school to study something practical. I at least want to come out with some semblance of a job. The pay doesn't matter as much as long as there is some modicum of job security.

I had met an LA in Houston not too long ago working on a project at a local Kinkos, he told me that he's been getting a lot of work and encouraged me to do Landscape Architecture because I would also be able to some planning/design with it as well. He thought it was a far more lucrative a path than straight planning. Granted this was in 2011 Houston during a development boom and now I am in Los Angeles.

I am not the least bit interested in Industrial Design or straight architecture.

So far I am learning that landscape architects are faring the best out of the three? I could take a safe route and learn interiors and help my father in law's business in interior construction back in TX (he would at least know a lot of contacts in the biz). Most likely though I am remaining in CA.

Cost is not that much of a big deal as I have saved a ton of money but I might have to go a little into debt with the urban Planning/Design degrees.

Any help, advice??

Aug 27, 13 1:36 pm

Landscape is a natural if you're interested in planning. LA's get lots of planning work. Combine LA with Civil Engineering and you'll be rolling around in planning commissions. Training in Urban Design really only sets you up to either work for a municipality or be the in-house planner for an architecture firm. I generally think a MAUD is a waste of time. You'll be competing with Architects, LAs, and even Civil Engineers without the value-add that they all bring to the table.

Interior designers can do remarkably well financially if they're any good at getting business. A big part of that is on the specification and procurement side, where IDs typically get a percentage commission on everything they buy and install for the owner, in addition to the design fee (just imagine if architects could get away with that). If your FIL has a contract interiors construction biz, that could be a very profitable way to go.

Aug 27, 13 2:08 pm

Thanks for the info GWharton! Funny you should mention that about LA's getting a lot of planning work. I attended a session at UCLA Extension for their LA program and talked to an LA for about half an hour on the subject. He said he worked for the Los Angeles planning department and mentioned that a third if not more of the planners there had MLAs. He told me that if I was really interested in design and planning that an MLA would better suit me.

I do not know about Civil Engineering though. My math skills are not on that level to pursue an engineering degree. Perhaps a secondary Planning degree?

As far as interiors go, my FIL owns and operates an interior construction company that does everything but specializes mostly in drywall and he knows several people in the biz that do other things more connected to the architectural side of things. If I worked for him it would be basically cost estimating, bidding and analyzing blueprints. Not actual design outside of the smaller work he does designing offices for really small businesses, but that is all literally word of mouth here and there. His bread and butter is drywall. This option of course would be the easy way out of my dilemma and work require leaving CA for TX, something I am not just not keen on doing but would if need be.

The way you're describing LA is confirming a lot of the things I've been hearing from people in the field. I was hoping the guy at the UCLA Extension wasn't just selling the program to me but was actually sincere in giving me the correct info.

Are LAs really taking on planning work?

Aug 27, 13 2:32 pm

The one thing that concerns me about LA though is that if I start the program now I would be close to 34 when I finish! What scares me more than anything in this economy, more so than high unemployment, is age discrimination. I know it's against the law but I just figure the situation is more apparent than people think. Is this an irrational fear I have?

Aug 27, 13 2:36 pm

Gwharton? Anyone?

Aug 27, 13 5:11 pm

miles...where do drug dealers fall?

Aug 27, 13 7:41 pm

LOL. I am sure they make pleny more than many professions. Some lawyers moonlight as dealer if their clients are high end cartel members but then again I probably watch too many movies.

Anyways, seriously, what would be the best bet for me in terms of how the situation is right now for the arch/planning field?

Aug 27, 13 7:44 pm

hummm planning  legal mary jane that might be up my  sleeve. 

Aug 27, 13 7:44 pm

Urban Planning? Really? I can't tell if you're being serious in the middle of a joke or what?

How is Urban Planning faring these days? Is it worth getting the MUP?

Aug 27, 13 7:57 pm

Landscape Architects get the shitty commissions in North America. MUDs get the real Urban Design work thats happening outside the country.

Aug 28, 13 12:33 am

ID is really a broad field. Proper training makes for competant, creative problem solvers, skills applicable to a widevrange of creative professions..

snook, depends on what they are dealing. Weed is a public service and a patriotic stand against corporate drug pushers. Crack/smack dealers etc. same as bankers. Either way you lose your house.  

Aug 28, 13 1:27 am

ID is feast or famine. Recent graduates freelance for several years before finding themselves in a steady office job. That kind of lifestyle isn't for everyone. 

Aug 28, 13 8:49 am

Is architecture like engineering where if you study civil its not like you can work chemical or electrical? If you study interior arch its not like you have the skills to do planning, UD, regular arch? For instance if I decide to do interiors because I could work for the family biz but later want to branch out, could I? 

Aug 28, 13 10:17 am

Also by ID were you guys talking about interiors or industrial?

Aug 28, 13 1:29 pm

? A PE is a PE - you should practice in your expertise in engineering, but you're not limited to it.  Architecture and Landscape Architecture licenses are separate, but the practitioners can overlap (I've seen plenty of architecture grads in LA offices, less so the other way around - although a lot of larger architecture offices have their own staff landscape designers).

Depending on the work, the lead firm/professional can differ - you'll find that in a lot of cases LAs work for building architects as sub-consultants (hence get a smaller piece of the 'profit' pie).

Aug 28, 13 2:52 pm

So now it's down to Interiors vs Landscape.

While I want to do urban planning and design, it seems like a planning degree would limit me to planning and from what I've read architects can do planning and have been sweeping up planning jobs.

I could go to school for practically free if I choose Landscape through a program I found at UCLA Extension. But I could also do a Master in Interiors and be more than guaranteed a job working the family biz and the connections they have.



Aug 30, 13 12:01 pm

Bump for new comments. 

Aug 30, 13 8:40 pm

You could just do architecture and get a rounded education in all of the above. Architecture is interiors and landscape by definition and you could always specialize later on in your career when you decide what area of the built environment you enjoy.

Aug 30, 13 11:59 pm

Whatever the rest of these guys say:  If you pick something you hate, then you'll always make less than you want & you'll hate yourself for choosing it.  Bottom Line:  Pick what you like & find yourself a niche.  Otherwise, go find a 20-30yr job, retire & enjoy your life.  Had my chance to do that & sometimes wish I could take that line of life.

Aug 31, 13 3:25 pm

OP, your handle is Mano Verde, which means "green hand" in Spanish and Italian.  So, it sounds like you started off by wanting to be a landscape architect.  Why the others now?

I don't know the jobs these fields entail, however my pick, in terms of interest, would be landscape, interiors, and urban planning.  Urban planners are often bureaucrats.  The latter would only be interesting if it involved urban design.  Architects are often tasked with and can do that type of work.

It sounds like you first wanted to make this decision by following your heart and now you want to make it by following your head.  No job in the building arts is as secures as, say, the health sciences, so finessing the differences is probably going to cause you more frustration.

Aug 31, 13 3:35 pm

I'd put interiors last. Below garbage man. Well, maybe not last, still above lawyer, politician, banker, arms dealer.

This comment is pretty funny.  We did a senior housing project.  You know, they're all Craftsman styled now, but they are really big blobs that keep on telescoping.  The lead architect on the job was a mild-mannered licensed architect.  Enter a very sales-y and flamboyant interior designer who sort of took credit for giving the space its "personality."  The designer sort of endeared themselves to the owner and, during the opening, the owner commented on what a "wonderful job" the designer had done with the project.  The more humble architect then grumbled about this in the office.  Their personalities with too much panache can be a major turn-off and they want to take more credit than what is due when they couldn't handle the more challenging technical aspects of a project.

Aug 31, 13 3:41 pm

Each project is a pie. Every "professional" typically vies for the largest slice without regard for the client or the project.

I once had a major project completely sabotaged by a decorator. The owner brought in her decorator "friend" to help save money on finishes. They took over the bathrooms (6 or 7, I don't recall exactly), all of which were planned and budgeted to be finished in simple tile and white marble at around $40k each. The decorator's new details and finishes were priced by the builder at about $80k per room.

The decorator, when questioned by the owner, said "the architect gave us the wrong information, the builder is incompetent and the tile man is screwing you". Guess who she believed?

On the same project, the decorator and owner spent an entire day laying out the shower wall tile pattern on the floor with hand-painted watercolor tiles imported from Italy, carefully numbering every one. The tile man then put them up randomly and nobody knew the difference. Sometimes I wonder what the cleaning lady felt like when she scrubbed the color off the walls.

Aug 31, 13 3:58 pm

Block this user

Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?

  • ×Search in: