Landscape Architects


Quick Facts: Landscape Architects
2017 Median Pay $65,760 per year 
$31.62 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Internship/residency
Number of Jobs, 2016 24,700
Job Outlook, 2016-26 6% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 1,600

Join Nextstep Career Mentorship Programs in Landscape Architects with our partners:


Landscape Architects Career, Salary and Education Information

What Landscape Architects Do

Landscape architects design parks and the outdoor spaces of campuses, recreational facilities, businesses, private homes, and other open spaces.

landscape_architects.jpg

Landscape architects

Duties of landscape architects

Landscape architects typically do the following:

  • Meet with clients, engineers, and building architects to understand the requirements of a project

  • Prepare site plans, specifications, and cost estimates

  • Coordinate the arrangement of existing and proposed land features and structures

  • Prepare graphic representations of plans using computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) software

  • Select appropriate landscaping materials

  • Analyze environmental reports on land conditions, such as drainage and energy usage

  • Inspect landscape project progress to ensure that it adheres to plans

  • Seek new work through marketing activities or by giving presentations

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.


Work Environment for Landscape Architects

Landscape architects held about 24,700 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of landscape architects were as follows:

Architectural, engineering, and related services: 53%

Self-employed workers: 20%

Landscaping services: 12%

Government: 7%

Construction: 2%

Work Schedules

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.


How to Become a Landscape Architect

Landscape architects usually need a degree in landscape architecture and a state-issued license, which typically requires completion of an internship.

Education

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.

Training

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.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

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.

Important Qualities

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.


salaries for Landscape Architects

The median annual wage for landscape architects was $65,760 in May 2017. 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 $40,480, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $108,470.

In May 2017, the median annual wages for landscape architects in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Government: $85,050

Construction: $75,320

Architectural, engineering, and related services: $66,580

Landscaping services: $52,270


Job Outlook for landscape architects

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.

Job Prospects

Job opportunities are expected to be good. Familiarity with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) may improve employment prospects with some employers.

Employment projections data for Landscape Architects, 2016-26

Employment, 2016: 24,700

Projected Employment, 2026: 26,300

Change, 2016-2026: 6%, +1,600


Careers Related to landscape architects

Architects

Architects plan and design houses, factories, office buildings, and other structures.

Civil Engineers

Civil engineers conceive, design, build, supervise, operate, construct, and maintain infrastructure projects and systems in the public and private sector, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment.

Construction Managers

Construction managers plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise construction projects from start to finish.

Drafters

Drafters use software to convert the designs of engineers and architects into technical drawings. Most workers specialize in architectural, civil, electrical, or mechanical drafting and use technical drawings to help design everything from microchips to skyscrapers.

Environmental Scientists and Specialists

Environmental scientists and specialists use their knowledge of the natural sciences to protect the environment and human health. They may clean up polluted areas, advise policymakers, or work with industry to reduce waste.

Hydrologists

Hydrologists study how water moves across and through the Earth’s crust. They use their expertise to solve problems in the areas of water quality or availability.

Interior Designers

Interior designers make interior spaces functional, safe, and beautiful by determining space requirements and selecting decorative items, such as colors, lighting, and materials. They read blueprints and must be aware of building codes and inspection regulations, as well as universal accessibility standards.

Surveying and Mapping Technicians

Surveying and mapping technicians collect data and make maps of the Earth's surface. Surveying technicians visit sites to take measurements of the land. Mapping technicians use geographic data to create maps. They both assist surveyors and cartographers and photogrammetrists.

Surveyors

Surveyors make precise measurements to determine property boundaries. They provide data relevant to the shape and contour of the Earth’s surface for engineering, mapmaking, and construction projects.

Urban and Regional Planners

Urban and regional planners develop land use plans and programs that help create communities, accommodate population growth, and revitalize physical facilities in towns, cities, counties, and metropolitan areas.

OccupationENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION2017 MEDIAN PAY
ArchitectsBachelor's degree$78,470
Civil EngineersBachelor's degree$84,770
Construction ManagersBachelor's degree$91,370
Environmental Scientists and SpecialistsBachelor's degree$69,400
HydrologistsBachelor's degree$79,990
Surveying and Mapping TechniciansHigh school diploma or equivalent$43,340
SurveyorsBachelor's degree$61,140
Urban and Regional PlannersMaster's degree$71,490
DraftersAssociate's degree$54,170
Interior DesignersBachelor's degree$51,500

Citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Landscape Architects,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/landscape-architects.htm