Learn about the field of environmental design, which covers topics in urban planning, interior design, landscape design and architecture. Find out about careers and job growth in this field.
Is Environmental Design for Me?
Environmental design is an interdisciplinary study that involves urban and regional planning and blends courses from the natural and social science fields as well as the field of design. Studies in environmental design and related disciplines focus on subjects such as urban ecosystems, sustainable development and public policy. As an environmental designer, you can help create community spaces with an eye toward growth, sustainability and revitalization.
Depending on the degree you choose to pursue, you have different career options in areas such as landscape design, construction, interior design, environmental design, historic preservation, architecture or urban planning. Should you choose to pursue an architectural degree with a concentration in environmental design, you'll focus on designing buildings that meet the social, environmental and functional needs of those using them. Both landscape architects and structural architects are typically required to be licensed.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that as of May 2013, urban and regional planners had a median annual wage of $65,650 (www.bls.gov). It was predicted that employment growth would be average for these occupations at 10% in the 2012-2022 decade. The BLS also reported that landscape architects had a median annual wage of $64,790 as of 2013, while structural architects earned $74,110. In the 2012-2022 decade, landscape architects were expected to see employment growth of 14%, while structural architects were predicted to see a growth of 17%.
How Can I Work in Environmental Design?
Degrees in environmental design are generally available at the bachelor's and master's degree levels. In a bachelor's degree program, you may expect to study topics such as environmental sustainability, social and behavioral science, economics and design. However, a career in an area such as urban planning typically requires at least a master's degree from a program accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board (www.planningaccreditationboard.org). In a master's degree program, you'll generally focus on an area relevant to your interests, such as golf course design, landscape restoration, interior design, park safety design or facilities design. You'll learn about the technical, social, political and economic factors affecting the environment.
Most professional architectural degree programs take a minimum of five years to complete, but you can find pre-professional 4-year programs that require you to pursue additional education to qualify for licensure. You may expect to take classes in advanced mathematics, physics, design fundamentals, professional practice and building construction. Both landscape and structural architecture degree programs prepare you for participation in a training period that generally lasts three years before sitting for a licensing exam. During this apprentice period, you'll be supervised by a licensed architect.