ASLA Encourages the use of PLA

ASLA Encourages the use of PLA

californiaASLA encourages all licensed landscape architects to use the post nominal letters “PLA” after their names. As an abbreviation of the title “professional landscape architect,” it will better enable potential clients and the general public to identify licensed practitioners. It will also provide consistent recognition for the landscape architecture profession.

Currently, there is no uniform way for a licensed landscape architect to indicate that he/she is licensed.  Many use PLA, RLA, LLA, or LA to signify licensure.  The lack of a consistent post nominal abbreviation makes it more difficult for potential clients and the general public to identify a licensed practitioner.

Why PLA? To truly establish a designation that can be used universally, it is necessary to avoid words that have specific legal meanings, like the terms registration and licensure. While these terms are often used interchangeably, each has a distinct meaning in the realm of professional regulation, making it unlikely that someone in a registration state will use LLA or that someone will use RLA in a state that uses licensure terms.  Like the PE designation for engineering, PLA can be used in any jurisdiction where a landscape architect is duly licensed or registered.  This is the key to making the designation universal, thereby creating a fully recognized designation for licensed landscape architects.

The use of PLA by landscape architects is intended as a customary designation, just as similar abbreviations are used today.  No legislative changes or rule development for state licensing is necessary, given that it falls under current title restriction provisions that already restrict the use of any title (or abbreviation) that indicates the individual is a landscape architect. For more information see the official ASLA Policy Statement and FAQ Fact Sheet.

As the PLA designation is intended to signify licensure, it is the responsibility of the licensee who uses PLA to remain in compliance with their respective licensure requirements and only to use the designation in jurisdictions where the licensee has a valid license.  The designation does not change the design of the licensure stamp/seal and licensees should continue to follow the state specifications for the stamp/seal.

The use of designations are a time-tested way to demonstrate qualifications. While some may avoid the “alphabet soup” associated with today’s professional credentials, most landscape architects prefer to use these designations. Unfortunately, the evolution of licensure credentials have produced a mishmash of combinations that hurt the profession’s ability to be known and understood as licensed professionals. By promoting the PLA designation, ASLA is seeking to raise the profile of the profession and bring clarity to the credentials used by landscape architects to market their qualifications.

Questions?  Contact ASLA Government Affairs Director Julia Lent at


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