What They Do: Landscape architects design parks and other outdoor spaces.
Work Environment: Landscape architects spend much of their time in offices, where they create designs, prepare models, and meet with clients. They spend the rest of their time at jobsites.
How to Become One: All states require landscape architects to be licensed. Licensing requirements vary by state but usually include at least a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from an accredited school, internship experience, and passing the Landscape Architect Registration Examination.
Salary: The median annual wage for landscape architects is $69,360.
Job Outlook: Employment of landscape architects is projected to grow 4 percent over the next ten years, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Planning and developing new commercial, industrial, and residential construction projects and redeveloping existing landscapes are expected to drive employment growth.
Related Careers: Explore occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.
Landscape architects design parks and the outdoor spaces of campuses, recreational facilities, businesses, private homes, and other open spaces.
Landscape architects typically do the following:
Landscape architects design attractive and functional public parks, gardens, playgrounds, residential areas, college campuses, and public spaces. They also plan the locations of buildings, roads, walkways, flowers, shrubs, and trees within these environments. Landscape architects design these areas so that they are not only easy to use but also harmonious with the natural environment.
Landscape architects use various technologies in their work. For example, using CADD software, landscape architects prepare models of their proposed work. They present these models to clients for feedback and then prepare the final look of the project. Many landscape architects also use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) which offer GPS coordinates of different geographical features. This helps landscape architects design different environments by providing clues on where to start planning and how to anticipate future effects of the landscape, such as rainfall running into a valley.
The goals of landscape architects are to enhance the natural beauty of a space and provide environmental benefits. They may plan the restoration of natural places that were changed by humans or nature, such as wetlands, streams, and mined areas. They may also design "green roofs" or rooftop gardens that can retain storm water, absorb air pollution, and cool buildings while also providing pleasant scenery.
Landscape architects hold about 23,500 jobs. The largest employers of landscape architects are as follows:
|Architectural, engineering, and related services||543%|
Landscape architects spend much of their time in offices, where they create plans and designs, prepare models and preliminary cost estimates, and meet with clients and workers involved in designing or planning a project. They spend the rest of their time at jobsites.
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Landscape architects usually need a degree in landscape architecture and a state-issued license, which typically requires completion of an internship.
A bachelor's or master's degree in landscape architecture is usually necessary for entry into the profession. There are two undergraduate landscape architect professional degrees: a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) and a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture (BSLA). These programs usually require 4 to 5 years of study.
Accredited programs are approved by the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB). Those with an undergraduate degree in a field other than landscape architecture may enroll in a Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) graduate degree program, which typically takes 3 years of full-time study.
Courses typically include surveying, landscape design and construction, landscape ecology, site design, and urban and regional planning. Other relevant coursework may include history of landscape architecture, plant and soil science, geology, professional practice, and general management.
The design studio is a key component of any curriculum. Whenever possible, students are assigned real projects, providing them with valuable hands-on experience. While working on these projects, students become proficient in the use of computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), model building, and other design software.
To become licensed, candidates must meet experience requirements determined by each state. A list of training requirements can be found at the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards.
New hires may be called intern landscape architects until they become licensed. Although duties vary with the type and size of the employing firm, interns typically must work under the supervision of a licensed landscape architect for the experience to count toward licensure. Potential landscape architects may benefit by completing an internship with a landscape architecture firm during educational studies. Interns may improve their technical skills and gain an understanding of the day-to-day operations of the business, including learning how to recruit clients, generate fees, and work within a budget.
All states except for Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maine require landscape architects to be licensed in order to practice. Licensing is based on candidates passing the Landscape Architect Registration Examination (LARE), which is sponsored by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards.
Candidates who are interested in taking the exam usually need a degree from an accredited school and a few years of work experience under the supervision of a licensed landscape architect, although standards vary by state. For those without an accredited landscape architecture degree, many states offer alternative paths—which usually require more work experience—to qualify to take the LARE.
In addition to the LARE, some states have their own registration exam to test for competency on state-specific issues, such as earthquakes in California or hurricanes in Florida. State-specific exams may focus on laws, environmental regulations, plants, soils, climate, and other characteristics unique to the state.
Because requirements for licensure vary, landscape architects may find it difficult to transfer their registration from one state to another. Common requirements include graduating from an accredited program, completing several years of an internship under the supervision of a licensed landscape architect, and passing the LARE. By meeting national requirements, a landscape architect may also obtain certification from the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards, which may be useful in getting a license in another state.
Analytical skills. Landscape architects must understand the content of designs. When designing a building's drainage system, for example, landscape architects must understand the interaction between the building and the surrounding land.
Communication skills. Landscape architects share their ideas, both orally and in writing, with clients, other architects, and workers who help prepare drawings. Effective communication is essential to ensuring that the vision for a project gets translated into reality.
Creativity. Landscape architects create the overall look of gardens, parks, and other outdoor areas. Their designs should be both pleasing to the eye and functional.
Problem-solving skills. When designing outdoor spaces, landscape architects must be able to provide solutions to unanticipated challenges. These solutions often involve looking at challenges from different perspectives and providing the best recommendations.
Technical skills. Landscape architects use computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) programs to create representations of their projects. Some also must use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for their designs.
Visualization skills. Landscape architects must be able to imagine how an overall outdoor space will look once completed.
The median annual wage for landscape architects is $69,360. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $42,320, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $112,290.
The median annual wages for landscape architects in the top industries in which they work are as follows:
|Architectural, engineering, and related services||$70,130|
Employment of landscape architects is projected to grow 4 percent over the next ten years, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
The need for planning and developing new and existing landscapes for commercial, industrial, and residential construction projects is expected to drive employment growth. In addition, environmental concerns and increased demand for sustainably designed buildings and open spaces should spur demand for the services of landscape architects. For example, landscape architects are involved in the design of green roofs, which are covered with vegetation and help reduce air and water pollution, as well as reduce the costs of heating and cooling a building.
Landscape architects are also expected to be needed to design plans to manage storm-water runoff in order to conserve water resources and avoid polluting waterways. This is especially useful in areas prone to drought.
Job opportunities are expected to be good. Familiarity with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) may improve employment prospects with some employers.
|Occupational Title||Employment, 2018||Projected Employment, 2028||Change, 2018-28|