|Recommended Degree Level||Bachelor|
|Number of Jobs, 2012||15,750|
|Annual Job Growth Rate||3.3%|
|Job Openings per Year (est.)||780|
- Landscape architects typically earn at least a four-year bachelor's degree in landscape architecture although many go on to earn a master's degree in the field.
- Urban planning, architecture and geology are common minors for students who earn their Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA).
What you study:
Landscape architects study the following subjects, among others:
- Urban planning
- Geology and soil science
- Computer-aided design
Quickly recaps the landscape architect career. Produced for the US Dept. of Labor.
A Day in the Life
Between meetings and site visits, your day planner as a newly graduated landscape architect is already full. You work with a regional architectural firm that handles a mixture of civic and private projects, a blend you appreciate because of the variety that it offers. At the office, you work with a fellow architect on finalizing the details of a big presentation you've been assembling for some time. You've done the necessary footwork of speaking to hydrologists, landscape designers and developers; all that remains now is the presentation itself.
Your first client meeting of the day is your biggest. You've learned to schedule big meetings early before your hair wilts at a work site. You're to meet with a local hospital's planning committee and show your final designs for the facility's green space and gardens. The space was once a box store's parking lot and an empty field, but your plan transforms it into a shaded garden with footpaths and a tranquil pond.
Computer-aided design and sleek graphics give your presentation polish, but the expertise that went into the plans goes deeper than the appealing images you show to the board. The specific challenges this project presented, including full wheelchair accessibility, sustainable building materials, paths that provide firm footing and gentle slopes that convalescing patients can traverse, are all a part of your presentation. The board seems delighted with your attention to detail and readily approves your plans with no changes.
Before you enjoy a celebratory lunch at the office, you stop by another building site to see how the work is progressing. This project, a small waterfront park and playground, involved careful attention to water and wind as well as the usual playground safety measures. You're especially proud of the inspired choice of using fragrant herbs as plantings; as the wind comes in from the lake, it carries the scent of mint and lavender with it. The smaller plants are just going in, so the work is almost complete.
After lunch, you spend some time on the phone with various city officials. Pushing paperwork through a lengthy approval process takes almost as long as designing some projects. You also place a call to one of the engineers in charge of the hospital project to discuss public lighting. Your work a few summers ago as a landscape designer gave you experience with hands-on planting and building, but as a landscape architect, you're responsible for many other aspects of a project.
The rest of your afternoon is devoted to developing cost estimates and locating sources for materials. The math isn't as glamorous as a client presentation, but it's essential to your work. You become absorbed in your calculations and are surprised when it's already time to go home. During your commute, you notice how people use parks and pathways, giving you new ideas.
Certifications and Licensing
All landscape architects must earn a license by passing the Landscape Architect Registration Exam, or LARE. Some states also require additional coursework and licensing that prepares landscape architects to work with state regulations and unique environmental needs of the region.
Full-time versus part-time:
The majority of landscape architects work for private firms. Those who are self-employed have somewhat more flexibility in their work hours, but standard office hours are the norm.
Like other architects, landscape architects spend much of their time in offices with occasional visits to work sites. Some projects require more oversight than others, and landscape architects who prefer hands-on work may choose to specialize in tasks that take them to the job site frequently
- Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Landscape Architects – This site offers a top-down view of what landscape architects do, how much they earn and the educational requirements they must meet. Job demand forecasts and salary statistics are helpful for students seeking direction. For those who are already in the profession or in associated fields such as landscape design or gardening, the Contacts page offers more information.
- American Society of Landscape Architects – The ASLA has provided landscape architects with support, education and guidance since 1899, making it the oldest professional organization in the industry. As an advocate for the profession, the group features a substantial education section for current and future landscape architects.
- Association of Professional Landscape Designers – Landscape design is closely associated with landscape architecture, and the APLD website has much to offer landscape architects. The site combines information for professionals and educational materials for clients, offering prospective landscape architects a glimpse of their work from the clients' point of view as well as that of the provider. The FAQs page is especially useful for those who are still considering their options in landscape architecture and design.