Landscape Designer: Career Definition, Employment Outlook, and Education Requirements

Research what it takes to become a landscape designer. Learn about education requirements, licensure, job outlook and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Landscape Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Landscape Designer?

Landscape designers plan, design and create functional and beautiful outdoor spaces. At the start of a job, they assess the chosen project site, prepare site plans using CADD programs, make cost estimates, and meet with clients, engineers and architects. Once construction starts, they are responsible for overseeing the progress of the project and making sure it sticks to the plans. Read the table below for an overview of what you need to know about becoming a landscape designer.

Degree Required Accredited bachelor's degree program
Education Field of Study Landscape architecture
Key Skills Create outdoor public spaces, restore natural spaces, design sustainable landscapes
Licensure Required Passing score on board exam and state licensure required
Job Growth (2014-2024) 5%*
Median Salary (2015) $63,810*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Landscape Designer Do?

Landscape designers, or landscape architects, create a number of outdoor public spaces, such as public parks, playgrounds, shopping centers, golf courses, college campuses and residential areas. As a landscape designer, you'll also plan and design the restoration of natural spaces that have been damaged by humans, such as forested land and mined areas. You'll work alongside architects, surveyors, engineers and environmental scientists to create efficient arrangements of roads, walkways and buildings.

Taking into consideration the climate and pre-existing structures, you'll develop plans to create aesthetically appealing spaces that fit the region. You'll use native vegetation, which flourishes in the correct soil and climate. You'll plan spaces around drainage, topography and human activity while maintaining a budget.

How Does the Employment Projection Look?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of landscape architects is expected to grow by 5% between 2014 and 2024, which is about average job growth. New construction and growing populations may create new jobs in landscape design. Landscape designers are also becoming increasingly involved with sustainable design, and landscape designers may be used to plan roofs with vegetation, reusable water sources to water plants, outdoor living spaces and design gardens for organic vegetables.

Additionally, the BLS reported that landscape architects earned an annual median salary of $63,810 as of 2015. California topped the states for employing the most landscape architects, while designers working in the District of Columbia and Massachusetts received the highest pay.

What Will I Need To Do this Job?

To work as a landscape architect, you must earn a degree in landscape architecture from an accredited university, gain work experience and pass the Landscape Architect Registration Exam (L.A.R.E.). Many universities offer a bachelor's degree program in landscape architecture. This program teaches you the theory of landscaping, sustainability, construction technology, design, horticulture, urban planning, modeling and computer design. Programs may also include an internship, which can provide you with experience in landscaping procedures and methods, business operations and project planning.

The L.A.R.E. exam is offered through the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (www.clarb.org). Board licensure is required in all states, and passing this exam allows you to apply for state licensure.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Many of the drafting and planning aspects of landscape design are similar to the tasks of architects, who design buildings and similar structures. Architects need to earn a professional bachelor's degree in order to enter the career field, and they need to earn licensure as well. If you're interested in the management aspects of landscape design, you might consider becoming a construction manager. This profession involves visiting construction sites and supervising construction projects from start to finish. Most construction managers have at least a bachelor's degree and experience in the industry.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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