Landscape architects design exterior spaces for both beauty and functionality. Read more about the job duties of these professionals, and review the education and licensure required to become a landscape architect. Explore degree programs and career info for this field.
Landscape architects work closely with other architects and engineers to plan and design the layout of campuses, roadways and pathways. You also design gardens and greenways surrounding built infrastructure. Parks, college campuses, monuments, residential areas and shopping malls are all planned with the help of landscape architects. You may play a role in projects aimed to restore, preserve or protect historically significant and environmentally sensitive lands.
If you become a landscape architect, you can draw on an appreciation for nature, ability to analyze data and creatively utilize spaces in your work. Good communication and computer skills, especially with computer-aided design (CAD) software, are important. Landscape architecture degree programs can give you necessary skills through studio courses, which are central to many programs. Curricula cover topics in urban design, construction, engineering, environmental sciences and botany. You are often encouraged to complete a portion of your studies abroad.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs in this field were projected to rise 14% for the 2012-2022 period (www.bls.gov). Despite average job growth, the BLS reports competition for jobs in larger, well-established architecture firms. Landscape architecture salaries can vary according to level of experience. For instance, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) reported that the average starting salary of graduates who had at least one job offer was approximately $37,300 as of 2010 (www.asla.org). By comparison, the median annual wages for all landscape architects as of May 2012 were $64,180, per the BLS. Many landscape architecture graduates work in private practice with landscape architecture firms. You could also work for government agencies, design and building contractors or in academia.
To become a landscape architect, you need to earn a degree. You can find programs from associate's degrees in landscape architecture to masters degrees. A bachelor's degree is typically the minimum level of education required to be eligible for licensing. You may choose to earn a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture, Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture, Master of Landscape Architecture or Master of Professional Studies in Landscape Architecture. If you'd like a career in academics and research, a doctoral degree can qualify you for those positions.
Candidates often need to submit a portfolio along with their applications for entry into professional bachelor's and master's degree programs. Bachelor's degree programs typically last 4-5 years, while master's programs can take an additional 1-3 years of study. The ASLA accredits schools with landscape architecture programs.
Licensing is necessary to work in most states. To become licensed, you need to pass the Landscape Architect Registration Exam sponsored by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB). You also need a degree from an accredited school and work experience under a licensed landscape architect to qualify (www.clarb.org). Once you've met your state's licensing requirements, you can work as a certified landscape architect. Continuing education may be necessary to maintain licensure throughout your career, and professional organizations offer voluntary certification in landscape architecture.