October 7, 2015

What is the LARE

Landscape Architect Registration Examination, known as the LARE for short, is a complex two-part examination used to license landscape architects. The practice of requiring licensure for this practice is used to promote the safety of the general public, as landscape architecture may affect everyone as well as their environment. These professionals design anything from parkways to golf courses with many environments in between. Regardless of your jurisdiction, you cannot use the title Landscape Architect unless you are a licensed professional. Check with your state board of landscape architecture to learn what your specific practice requirements consist of, as they are not uniform across the nation.
The computerized portion of the LARE is administered by Prometric centers and is only offered biannually, with testing centers found throughout the United States. You must pass all portions of the LARE to gain your professional licensure in landscape architecture. Prometric partners with the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards, or CLARB, who is the governing body for the professional licensure. Although each state has its’ own licensure eligibility requirements, CLARB is the administrator for the content of the LARE, licensure and registration as well as maintenance of current licenses with continuing education and professional development.

The LARE consists of five separate components. Three of the sections, sections A, B and D, contain multiple-choice type questions that are completed on the computerized test. Sections C and E are on-site graphic solutions; you will be given a situation and you must develop a design to meet the needs of the client and environment while detailing your project. Sections C and E are also administered by CLARB, but are not offered concomitantly with the computer portion of the LARE. It is possible to sign up for the LARE, take a portion of the exam and then complete the other portion months later. Similar to the computer portion, the graphic design part of the LARE is offered biannually.

Preparation, experience and confidence are vital to passing the LARE and gaining your professional licensure. Examples of both multiple-choice style and the graphic solution questions are found on the CLARB website as well as in commercial practice tests and study guides. Upon graduation with a landscape architectural degree, you may work as an apprentice to gain experience and start preparing for this highly desired professional licensure.

Eligibility to sit for the examination is dependent on both the state where you plan to gain licensure and the CLARB. You must meet all eligibility requirements – in your state and of CLARB — prior to sitting for the LARE. Additionally, 15 states require you receive pre-authorization through their state boards to apply for the LARE through CLARB. You may not even apply for the examination in these states without board approval. For further information, you can review the article, “LARE Eligibility”.

Taking and passing the LARE is the gold standard in landscape architecture. Although you may be able to find work in this profession just by graduating with a bachelor’s in the field, you will not be able to work independently or maximize your earnings. Positions for apprenticeship and some in the federal government may not require licensure, however licensure is the only way to prove your experience, knowledge and expertise within this field.

Landscape Architecture

Landscape ArchitectureIf you take pleasure in manipulating the look, feel and functionality of an environment you may enjoy a career in landscape architecture. Landscape architects work alongside professionals such as engineers, contractors and land surveyors to design usable and eye-pleasing parks, neighborhoods and even parkways. These professionals can specialize in areas of expertise, such as those who design golf courses or others who may enjoy residential architecture. Landscape architects are challenged to meet the needs of both shareholders and the public by creating safe, environmentally friendly designs that are created in accordance with the laws and regulations of their profession. The test is called the Landscape Architect Registration Examination LARE.

These professionals may work independently, with a large percentage of landscape architects working as contractors. Competition to work for either a firm or the government is keen, as the positions are based on experience and skill. Regardless of where the professional chooses to work, their knowledge is put to use for the greater good of the community. They can spend endless hours in an office pouring over laws, zones and research for a design, or they may drive to different sites surveying the land and analyzing the potential for client’s projects. Landscape architects may spend off-work hours finalizing proposals for clients or putting the finishing touch on a design project. This profession requires an element of creativity and artistry; sought-out landscape architects marry their analytical skills with imaginative designs.

Licensure is required for landscape architecture, to protect the general public when these environments are planned and constructed. A person using the title of Landscape Architect is a registered professional with a minimum of four years’ schooling. At the least, a bachelor’s in landscape architecture is required for the profession. Each state holds their own licensure and testing eligibility requirements, which include the amount of both education and experience required before sitting for the Landscape Architecture Registration Examination, or LARE. This licensure examination is offered through the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards, or CLARB. View the article named “LARE Eligibility” for more information on becoming a Landscape Architect.

This field is projected for job opportunity growth over the next few decades. As Americans become more environmentally aware, architectural practice and designs may be needed that reflect this green trend. Entry-level landscape architects earn around $36,520, with the high-end professionals earning more than twice that amount at $97,320. The average income for this profession ranges from $45,840 to $77,610. Your skills, experience, availability and projects will make the difference in pay scale over time.

Landscape architects must maintain their professional licensure similar to any registered professional. Continuing education units, or CEUs, are required annually to keep their education relevant and current. Proof of these CEUs must be documented and maintained by the landscape architect, as CLARB or state boards of architecture may audit them without reason to ensure professional practice.

A landscape architect can be licensed in multiple jurisdictions; however, they cannot practice as landscape architects in any states where they are not licensed. The practice acts outlining their profession are strict; penalties for breaking these laws are severe and may result in licensure revocation. Those interested in the services of a licensed landscape architect may contact the CLARB to view the roster for their area.

LARE Eligibility

If you are thinking about sitting for the LARE, or the Landscape Architectural Registration Examination, you must consider both state and national eligibility requirements. Licensure is required in 49 states to practice, with each state board of landscape architecture controlling the eligibility requirements for the LARE. The Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards, or CLARB, governs the LARE examination and also regulates examination eligibility. Check with your state boards, as there are 15 states that require pre-approval through the state board of landscape architecture prior to applying through CLARB to sit for the LARE.

General Education

Although there are myriad exceptions to the rule, potential landscape architects must meet a minimum educational requirement to sit for the LARE and obtain their professional licensure. The educational requirements vary by each state board; therefore it is essential that you check with your state board of landscape architecture before applying for the LARE. However, the CLARB sets forth the basic requirements needed to sit for the multiple-choice portion of the LARE.

The amount of experience needed alongside your education will vary by the accreditation status of your educational institution. Those holding a four or five-year undergraduate or graduate degree in landscape architecture must attend a LAAB or LAAC accredited school. The two accreditation agencies for landscape architects are the LAAB, or Landscape Architect Accreditation Board and the LAAC, or Landscape Architecture Accreditation Council. Students who complete these accredited programs do not need to provide proof of experience according to CLARB, however this may vary by state board requirements.

General Experience

If you do not attend a LAAB or LAAC accredited school you may still qualify for LARE eligibility. Those who attended a National Architecture Accrediting Board (NAAB) or Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), accredited schools require one year of supervised experience in landscape architecture for eligibility to test. Likewise, CLARB guidelines suggest one year’s supervised experience if your landscape architecture school was not accredited. If you hold a bachelor’s in another field you are eligible to sit for LARE only after three years of supervised experience in the field.

Application Process

Applying for the LARE will vary from state to state and from state boards to the national council, or CLARB. You can apply through either, however it is recommended to check with your state board first, as 15 of the state boards require pre-registration through them before approaching CLARB. You will need an official copy of your transcripts, which usually require a nominal fee as set by your educational institution. You will also need employment verification and possibly letters of reference from landscape architects in your firm.

Ensure you have all of the required documents ready prior to applying. Aside from the LARE testing fees there are also application fees associated with taking this exam. The LARE has two parts, including a multiple-choice style test and a graphic design test with vignettes. The multiple choice and the graphic design tests are administered biannually, however they are not administered at the same time. It does not matter what order you take the examinations in, only that you take and pass all sections.

LARE Content

Reviewing the content of any professional licensure examination will help you familiarize with the materials. This may save you both time and money as you prepare to study for a comprehensive examination. Unlike other professional licensure examinations, the Landscape Architect Registration Examination, or LARE, comes in five parts. Three of these sections contain multiple-choice style questions and are administered by computerized testing centers called Prometric. The other two portions are graphic design hands-on tests to decipher your expertise in landscape architecture. To become licensed as a Landscape Architect you must pass all five sections of the LARE.

LARE ContentSection A

One of the three multiple-choice style sections, Section A is dedicated to project and construction administration questions. As a landscape architect your job does not stop with the conception of a design. You will be expected to understand the implementation of your design from start to finish. This section includes 70 questions that will test your knowledge of all the administration aspects of landscape architecture, focusing on five areas in specific: communication and teambuilding, standards of practice, contract administration, construction evaluation and construction practices. You are expected to understand professional concepts such as ethics and liability, construction laws, stakeholders and bidding processes as well as the equipment and technology used in construction.

Section B

Also a multiple-choice style section, this section tests on inventory, analysis and program development. This section focuses on the conceptual phases of landscape architecture and will challenge your knowledge of pre-design procedures. Landscape architects must know how to research, plan and develop a design prior to getting started with a project. Section B has 90 questions, which can be pulled from a mixture of four subsections: problem definition, inventory, analysis and programming. These questions will include client interactions and determining needs and outcomes, planning and zoning laws, and material and on-site analysis.

Section C

The first of two graphic design questions, section C focuses on site design and will include four vignette-style questions. Using these vignettes you are expected to evaluate the situation and develop multiple alternatives to the design malfunctions. Section C will require a combined use of your education and hands-on experience in landscape architecture, as well as a modicum of creativity and problem-solving skills. You will be expected to understand and use your on and off-site resources and explain how your solutions will impact the outcome, client and environment.

Section D

The third and largest multiple-choice section of the LARE, section D focuses on design and construction documentation in 120 questions. This section will test your knowledge of the actual implementation process of your designs as a landscape architect. There are five subsections within D including design principles, resource conservation and management, graphic communication, construction documentation, and materials and methods of construction. The latter is the largest subsection accounting for 38 percent of the questions in section D. You must demonstrate your knowledge in design theory and urban ecology as well as graphic presentations, layout design and the impact of drainage systems and construction techniques.

Section E

Section E is the second portion of vignette-style graphics questions, including four scenarios involving grading, drainage and storm water management. You will be expected to demonstrate your knowledge of environmental impact such as water supply protection, sedimentation, and the environment and economic impacts that occur with landscape architecture.

Preparing for the LARE

The Landscape Architect Registration Examination is the gold standard for those in this profession. Passing this exam, more commonly known as the LARE, results in a license in landscape architecture and will give you the freedom to work unrestricted in this occupation. Although unlicensed personnel work alongside landscape architects, they are not registered professionals and do not get to see their designs flourish from a concept through fruition.

Wait Until You are Ready

Similar to other professional licensure examinations, taking the LARE is associated with a hefty one-time fee – assuming you pass. It is advisable to wait on the LARE until you are confident of your knowledge and abilities as a landscape architect, as there are no refunds for those who do not pass. The exam comes in two portions, a computerized test with multiple-choice style questions and in-the-field graphic design sections. Both of these sections are offered at different times, biannually, and are sponsored by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards, or CLARB for short.

Real-Life Experience

There is no substitute for real-life experience as it pertains to taking the LARE. Most would-be landscape architects have worked in an apprenticeship or in some capacity within the field prior to sitting for their licensure examination. There are some eligibility requirement exceptions that vary by state boards, but for the most part, you must have experience within the field to sit for the LARE. However, even with experience your daily job duties will not take you into every aspect of landscape architecture. You may work in design and project management, but that section only represents a portion of the LARE. As two sections of the exam, sections C and E, are on-site graphic design projects, you will need to know the business of landscape architecture from start to finish and be able to demonstrate that implementation for your license.


Taking a pretest may help you identify your areas of weakness prior to sitting for a licensure examination. These practice exams can help you sift through the overwhelming amount of content in the LARE and find the areas you must focus on studying. Pretests are available in a number of formats, offered by commercial test preparation organizations, CLARB and the American Society of Landscape Architects.

CLARB offers three different multiple choice practice tests, one representing the content of each section A, B, and D. These are not free practice materials and you must purchase each section’s pretest separately. To avoid an abundant and uncessesary expense you could review each section’s content outline first, and only purchase the practice tests in your areas of weakness. CLARB does not offer practice tests for the graphic design portions, which are sections C and E. However, the American Society of Landscape Architects offer free vignettes depicting scenarios and solutions to questions similar to those on the LARE.

Reference Materials and Study Guides

The LARE is constructed using a variety of resources, all of which are outlined on the CLARB website. The CLARB examination committee lists between three to six references for each of the five LARE sections. The CLARB website also lists a number of sample questions for each of the five sections, which further list the reference material used for each question and answer unit. Although it would be quite costly to purchase all of these reference texts for studying, you could choose a few within your areas of weakness and either purchase or check them out from the local library for your studies. Another option is to purchase LARE study manuals and tools, including flashcards, CD-ROMs and texts that cover the CLARB generated topics on the examination.

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