Residential Landscape Architect: Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for residential landscape architects. Get the facts about education, salary, licensing requirements and job growth 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 Residential Landscape Architect?

Residential landscape architects design landscapes for homes and other residential areas. Their job is to make outdoor spaces attractive and functional, according to the needs and wants of the client.

If you become a residential landscape architect, you will likely begin a new landscaping project by meeting with clients to understand the project's requirements. You will then prepare site plans as well as building cost and timeline estimates, and get them approved by all necessary regulatory bodies. Landscape architects incorporate a number of techniques into their practice, such as the use of computer aided design and drafting software or geographic information technology (GIS). Once the job has begun, as the principal architect you will be responsible for selecting the right materials, sticking to the budget and timeline, and managing other staff. It is also your job to ensure that any project is respectful of the natural environment.

The following chart provides an overview about becoming a residential landscape architect.

Degree Required Bachelor's or master's degree
Field of Study Landscape architecture
Licensure All states require licensure before using the title 'landscape architect'; all but 4 states require licensure before practicing
Key Responsibilities Consult with owners or contractors to determine requirements; analyze environmental requirements and reports; prepare landscape plans, specifications and cost estimates and prepare artist renderings; choose materials and oversee construction
Median Salary (2015) $63,810*
Job Growth (2014-2024) 5%*

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

What Degree Do I Need to Be a Landscape Architect?

You need a professional bachelor's degree in landscape architecture (BSLA or BLA) or a master's degree in landscape architecture (MLA). Because an MLA may be required for licensure in some states, many BSLA and BLA degrees are 5-year programs that award both the undergraduate degree and the MLA upon successful completion. Students are also prepared for licensure upon graduation.

Master's degrees in this field are intended for those who did not earn a bachelor's degree in landscape architecture. Master's degrees may take longer to complete if you have less experience in architecture and related fields, but at most they can typically be completed in three years. Additionally, most employers prefer applicants who have completed internships during their degree programs.

What Will I Learn?

Landscape architecture degree programs might train you in the history of landscape architecture, ecologies and ecological techniques, landscape representation, landscapes in urban environments and landscape architectural theory. You may also learn about urban community and design, communication graphics and digital technologies, sustainable site design, sustainable planting and computer modeling. Many programs also offer supplemental business training in areas such as human resources management, accounting, finance, leadership and management. The curriculum in these programs is largely didactic but incorporates hands-on training as well. These degrees usually cannot be completed online.

Do I Need Certification?

As of 2015, all states except the District of Columbia required licensure in order to use the title 'landscape architect.' You must pass the Landscape Architect Registration Examination (LARE), which is administered by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB). The exam consists of two sections: a multiple choice section and a visual section. In addition to an accredited degree in landscape architecture, you must have also completed 1-4 years of work experience; this requirement varies by state. If you don't have an architecture degree, many states will still allow you to sit for the exam if you have additional experience. Some states also require you to complete an additional exam. This test cannot be taken online; you can only take it at a registered testing center.

What is the Job Market Like?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that employment of landscape architects will rise 5% ( between 2014 and 2024. This is about as fast as average. Increased new construction and the redevelopment of existing buildings will be a primary contributing factor in job growth for this industry, according to the BLS. The employment rate for landscape architects also correlates positively with land costs and the demand for aesthetically pleasing space, both of which are on the rise.

How Much Will I Get Paid?

As of May 2015, the highest-paid landscape architects made more than $104,710 per year, the lowest made less than $40,230 per year and the median annual salary was $63,810. The highest paying industries for landscape architects were amusement and recreation, lessors of real estate, the federal government, and residential building construction.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you are willing to earn at least a bachelor's degree, there are a number of careers to consider with similar job duties to that of a residential landscape architect. You could become an environmental scientist, and work to protect the natural world or manage the interaction between humans and the environment. This could mean communicating with industries, educating the public, or advising policymakers. Another option is to become a regular architect. Architects, like landscape architects, design and build functional and aesthetic structures. Architects, however, work on houses, buildings, or other man-made structures instead of natural spaces.

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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