What Does PLA and ASLA mean?

What does PLA mean?

Many professions use a post nominal abbreviation to indicate a specific position, academic degree, accreditation, office, military decoration and/or honor. For example, John Smith, PE indicates that John is a Professional Engineer.

A Landscape Architect uses the abbreviation “PLA” to indicate that he/she is a licensed Professional Landscape Architect. This distinction means three important things:

  • He/she has a college degree in landscape architecture AND
  • He/she has passed a rigorous licensing exam to assure competency in the practice of landscape architecture AND
  • He/she is licensed in the state he/she is working as a Landscape Architect.

If a person uses “PLA” after his/her name, you can know that this person is a legitimate, licensed Landscape Architect regardless if the ASLA abbreviation is used.

What is the ASLA?

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) is the voice of the landscape architecture profession, and it is the only organization solely devoted to the success of landscape architecture and its practitioners. It is a non-profit professional organization primarily for Landscape Architects with over 15,000 members across the country. Its purpose since its inception in 1899 is to advance landscape architecture through advocacy, communication, education and fellowship.

ASLA is an active advocate for the profession at the local, state, and national levels of public policy involving licensure, the environment and sustainable design, livable communities, surface transportation, historic preservation, and storm-water management issues, among others. The ASLA also provides continuing education to Landscape Architects so they may maintain their educational licensing requirements as mandated by each state.

Members in good standing use the “ASLA” abbreviation after their names to indicate good standing in the Society and their commitment to the highest ethical stands of the profession. However, the ASLA allows affiliate and corporate membership to those who are in the field of landscape architecture but who are NOT actual Landscape Architects. This includes landscape contractors, landscape maintenance services, and landscape supply companies.

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