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Landscape Designer Certification and Training

Training for landscape designers is available through associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs. You can learn about specific ways to incorporate trees, bushes, flowers, wood and stone to create a beautiful and useful outdoor space. Certification is available for experienced professionals. Read more about the degree options, certification requirements and job duties for landscape designers.

What Training Is Available?

Programs leading to a career as a landscape designer are available through associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs in landscape design, landscape architecture and horticulture. Master's degree programs include architecture courses, which involve designing building plans; to enroll, you must have a bachelor's degree with courses in landscape design or architecture. Bachelor's degree programs in horticulture include specializations in landscape design and go more in-depth into plant health and maintenance than at the associate's level by touching on design procedures. Bachelor's and associate's degree programs are hands-on and focus on small-scale projects, such as managing nurseries.

Degree LevelsDegrees are available on the associate's, bachelor's, and master's levels
Key SkillsPlant placement and design, walkway creation, building design, wood and stone construction, legal issues
Job ResponsibilitiesMeet with clients, create personalized designs, coordinate with supervisors, ensure all construction is up to code
CertificationAfter four years of professional experience, designers can be certified by the APLD after also submitting design plans and a business statement

What Will I Learn Through Landscape Design Programs?

In horticulture classes, you care for bushes and trees by pruning, planting and protecting them. Some classes cover the turf used in golf courses and techniques for maintaining the course's design. You could intern in a greenhouse and plant and prune fruit trees, flowers and vegetable crops. Advanced concepts deal with balancing the beauty of a landscape's design with its practical function. You could also learn to:

  • Use plants for designs
  • Create walkways
  • Design buildings
  • Build with wood and stone
  • Examine legal issues
  • Analyze product cost

What Are the Job Responsibilities?

Landscape designers meet with potential clients to learn what they want their finished lawn or outdoor area to look like. Based on their visions, you draft designs that incorporate buildings, plants, roads and other landmarks. As the construction process gets underway, you might warn your supervisors about potential problems and make sure everything is up to code. In some situations, you may be responsible for designing buildings using natural materials and green technology.

What Certifications Are Available and What Are the Requirements?

According to the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD), you must have four years of experience before becoming certified (www.apld.org). The APLD is the only national landscape design certification program in the United States, but some states have separate certification programs. For instance, the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association (FLNGLA) offers a certified landscape designer program with training and certification.

To apply for APLD certification, you must submit your professional and educational background for evaluation. You're required to submit design plans with a statement describing the intended project completion. Then, to illustrate the project's success, you must submit before-and-after photographs of completed projects. You must also submit a business statement describing how you operate your business. To maintain certification, you must take at least 30 continuing-education credits every three years.

What Is the Job Outlook and Pay?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the employment rate for landscape architects is projected to rise 6% between 2016 and 2026, as fast as average. As of May 2018, landscape architects earned a median salary of $68,230.