Landscape Architect: Job Duties, Career Outlook, and Education Prerequisites

Explore the career requirements for landscape architects. Get the facts about education, training and licensure requirements to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Landscape Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Landscape Architect?

Landscape architects prepare plans, budgets and models for landscape projects, including parks, public pools and college campuses. To do this, they often begin by meeting with clients and engineers to understand the goals of a project. They then develop a plan and estimate costs. They prepare their plans using computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), geographic information systems (GIS) and GPS.

Landscape architects must also consider what materials to use, what the land conditions are and how conditions may affect things like drainage or energy usage. They will oversee the project to make sure everything adheres to the desired plan. The following chart provides an overview about becoming a landscape architect, including details on education and licensure requirements.

Degree Required Bachelor's or master's degree
Field of Study Landscape architecture
Key Responsibilities Draft site plans and budgets; create graphic representations of design; select materials; coordinate placement of landscaping around existing land features
Certification and Licensing State licensure; professional certification is available
Job Growth (2014-2024) 5%*
Median Salary (2015) $63,810*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Do Landscape Architects Do?

As a landscape architect, you must take a number of factors into consideration before you start working on a design. You must check state and government regulations, analyze the site and calculate the budget. You must also consult with other professionals such as hydrologists, engineers and building architects to create functional and aesthetically pleasing designs that follow government and building code regulations. You can choose to specialize in a certain area, such as historic landscape preservation, street and highway beautification, shopping centers or environmentally friendly green design.

What Kind of Degree Do I Need?

Earning a bachelor's or master's degree in landscape architecture from an accredited college is generally required to become a landscape architect. A bachelor's degree program typically takes 4-5 years to complete, while a master's degree program can take 2-3 years. These degree programs help you develop skills in land surveying, CAD drafting, research strategies and budgeting. You will also gain an understanding of construction methods and various building materials.

Typically, students spend the last year of their studies focusing on a thesis portfolio. The thesis design is meant to represent your skills and artistic visions. A good thesis project can help you get an apprenticeship or entry-level position after graduation. You may also be given opportunities to participate in internships while earning your degree.

What Kind of Licensure Requirements Will I Have?

To practice at the professional level, most states require landscape architects to be licensed in the state in which they intend to work. To become licensed, you must graduate from an accredited bachelor's or master's degree program in landscape architecture and gain hands-on experience as an apprentice or intern with a landscape architect. After a 1- to 4-year period, you can apply for a take the Landscape Architect Registration Examination (L.A.R.E.), which is administered by the American Society of Landscape Architects. Some states may require that you take an additional state examination. Earning a government issued certificate from the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards can make it easier to later obtain licensure in additional states.

What is the Career Outlook for Landscape Architects?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of landscape architects was expected to grow 5% between 2014 and 2024. Graduates with internship experience, technical proficiency in CAD and knowledge of environmental regulations can expect the best job prospects. In 2015, about 65% of landscape architects worked for architectural, engineering and related services. In 2015, the middle half of landscape architects earned between $49,780 and $82,850 per year.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

A similar career that requires a bachelor's or master's degree is that of an architect. Architects use similar methods to design and plan houses, buildings and other structures. Surveyors need a bachelor's degree, and they take measurements and define property boundaries. Another related career is that of a civil engineer. These professionals need at least a bachelor's degree to help design and build construction projects like roads, bridges, dams and more.

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