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Working as a Landscape Architect

What Does a Landscape Architect Do

Landscape architects design parks and the outdoor spaces of campuses, recreational facilities, private homes, and other open spaces.

Duties

Landscape architects typically do the following:

  • Meet with clients, engineers, and building architects to understand the requirements of a project
  • Prepare site plans, specifications, and cost estimates
  • Coordinate the arrangement of existing and proposed land features and structures
  • Prepare graphic representations of plans using computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) software
  • Select appropriate materials for use in landscape designs
  • Analyze environmental reports on land conditions, such as drainage and energy usage
  • Inspect landscape project progress to ensure that it adheres to plans
  • Seek new work through marketing activities or by giving presentations

Landscape architects design attractive and functional public parks, gardens, playgrounds, residential areas, college campuses, and public spaces. They also plan the locations of buildings, roads, walkways, flowers, shrubs, and trees within these environments. Landscape architects design these areas so that they are not only easy to use but also harmonious with the natural environment.

Landscape architects use several different technologies in their work. For example, using computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) software, landscape architects prepare models of their proposed work. They present these models to clients for feedback and then prepare the final look of the project. Many landscape architects also use geographic information systems (GIS) which offer GPS coordinates of different geographical features. This helps landscape architects design different environments by giving them clues on where to start planning and how to anticipate future effects of the landscape, such as rainfall running into a valley.

The goals of landscape architects are to enhance the natural beauty of a space and provide environmental benefits. They may plan the restoration of natural places that were changed by humans or nature, such as wetlands, streams, and mined areas. They may also design “green roofs” or rooftop gardens that can retain storm water, absorb air pollution, and cool buildings while also providing pleasant scenery. Landscape architects also play a role in preserving and restoring historic landscapes. Landscape architects and architects sometimes work together to create historic memorials, such as the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C.

Landscape architects who work for government agencies design sites and landscapes for government buildings, parks, and other public lands, as well as plan for landscapes and recreation areas in national parks and forests. In addition, they prepare environmental impact assessments based on proposed construction.

How To Become a Landscape Architect

All states except for Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, and Washington, D.C. require landscape architects to have a license. In addition, all 50 states (but not Washington, D.C.) require applicants to be licensed before they can use the title “landscape architect” while soliciting business. Licensing requirements vary among states, but usually include a degree in landscape architecture from an accredited school, internship experience, and passing the Landscape Architect Registration Examination.

Education

A bachelor's or master's degree in landscape architecture usually is necessary for entry into the profession. There are two undergraduate landscape architect professional degrees: a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) and a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture (BSLA). These programs usually require 4 to 5 years of study.

Accredited programs are approved by the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB). Those with an undergraduate degree in a field other than landscape architecture may enroll in a Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) graduate degree program, which typically takes 3 years of full-time study.

Courses typically include surveying, landscape design and construction, landscape ecology, site design, and urban and regional planning. Other relevant coursework may include history of landscape architecture, plant and soil science, geology, professional practice, and general management.

The design studio is a key component of any curriculum. Whenever possible, students are assigned real projects, providing them with valuable hands-on experience. While working on these projects, students become proficient in the use of computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), model building, and other design software.

Training

In order to become licensed, candidates must meet experience requirements determined by each state. A list of training requirements can be found at the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards.

New hires are called intern landscape architects until they become licensed. Although duties vary with the type and size of the employing firm, interns typically must work under the supervision of a licensed landscape architect for the experience to count toward licensure. In addition, all drawings and specifications must be signed and sealed by the licensed landscape architect.

Potential prospects may benefit by completing an internship with a landscape architecture firm during educational studies. Interns may improve their technical skills and gain an understanding of the day-to-day operations of the business, including learning how to recruit clients, generate fees, and work within a budget.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states, except for Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, and Washington, D.C., require landscape architects to be licensed in order to practice. In addition, all 50 states (but not Washington, D.C.) require applicants to be licensed before they can use the title “landscape architect” while soliciting business. Licensing is based on candidates passing the Landscape Architect Registration Examination (LARE), which is sponsored by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards.

Candidates who are interested in taking the exam usually need a degree from an accredited school and several years of work experience under the supervision of a licensed landscape architect, although standards vary by state. For those without an accredited landscape architecture degree, many states provide alternative paths to qualify to take the LARE, which usually require more work experience.

In addition to the LARE, some states have their own registration exam to test for competency on state-specific issues, such as earthquakes in California or hurricanes in Florida. State-specific exams may focus on laws, environmental regulations, plants, soils, climate, and other characteristics unique to the state.

Because requirements for licensure vary, landscape architects may find it difficult to transfer their registration from one state to another. Common requirements include graduating from an accredited program, completing several years of an internship under the supervision of a licensed landscape architect, and passing the LARE. By meeting national requirements, a landscape architect may also obtain certification from the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards, which may be useful in getting a license in another state.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Landscape architects must understand the content of designs. When designing a building’s drainage system, for example, landscape architects must understand how the building’s location and surrounding land affect each other.

Communication skills. Landscape architects share their ideas, both orally and in writing, with clients, other architects, and workers who help prepare drawings. Effective communication is essential to ensuring that the vision for a project gets translated into reality.

Creativity. Landscape architects create the overall look of gardens, parks, and other outdoor areas. Their designs should be both pleasing to the eye and functional.

Problem-solving skills. When designing outdoor spaces, landscape architects must be able to provide solutions to unanticipated challenges. These solutions often involve looking at challenges from different perspectives and providing the best recommendations.

Technical skills. Landscape architects use computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) programs to create representations of their projects. Some also must use geographic information systems (GIS) for their designs.

Visualization skills. Landscape architects must be able to imagine how an overall outdoor space will look once completed.

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Average Salary$58,849
Job Growth Rate4%

Landscape Architect Jobs

Landscape Architect Career Paths

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Average Salary for a Landscape Architect

Landscape Architects in America make an average salary of $58,849 per year or $28 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $78,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $44,000 per year.
Average Salary
$58,849

Best Paying Cities

Average Salary
Salary Range72k - 113k$91k$90,774
Salary Range62k - 99k$79k$78,947
Salary Range56k - 89k$71k$71,004
Salary Range53k - 86k$68k$67,808
Salary Range49k - 78k$62k$61,856
Salary Range48k - 78k$62k$61,779
$43k
$113k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyCompanyStart DateSalary
Landscape Architect
Landscape Architect
Cobb County Police Department
Cobb County Police Department
10/28/2020
10/28/2020
$47,21410/28/2020
$47,214
Landscape Architect
Landscape Architect
Selectek
Selectek
09/21/2020
09/21/2020
$65,00009/21/2020
$65,000
Landscape Architect
Landscape Architect
Sarasota County Government Careers
Sarasota County Government Careers
08/28/2020
08/28/2020
$49,02608/28/2020
$49,026
Landscape Architect-Landscape Plans Examiner
Landscape Architect-Landscape Plans Examiner
City of Jacksonville
City of Jacksonville
07/11/2020
07/11/2020
$51,51307/11/2020
$51,513
Landscape Architect
Landscape Architect
National Older Worker Career Center
National Older Worker Career Center
06/27/2020
06/27/2020
$125,22006/27/2020
$125,220
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Landscape Architect Demographics

Gender

male

71.5%

female

24.0%

unknown

4.5%

Ethnicity

White

70.8%

Hispanic or Latino

12.2%

Asian

12.1%

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

42.6%

French

12.8%

Japanese

8.5%
See More Demographics

Landscape Architect Education

Degrees

Bachelors

53.9%

Masters

21.7%

Associate

8.1%

Top Colleges for Landscape Architects

1. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA

Tuition and fees
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

2. Cornell University

Ithaca, NY

Tuition and fees
$55,188
Enrollment
15,105

3. University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, CA

Tuition and fees
$14,184
Enrollment
30,845

4. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA

Tuition and fees
$56,225
Enrollment
19,548

5. University of Texas at Austin

Austin, TX

Tuition and fees
$10,610
Enrollment
40,329

6. Northeastern University

Boston, MA

Tuition and fees
$51,522
Enrollment
13,760

7. Thomas Jefferson University

Philadelphia, PA

Tuition and fees
$40,651
Enrollment
3,495

8. Clemson University

Clemson, SC

Tuition and fees
$15,374
Enrollment
19,564

9. North Carolina State University

Raleigh, NC

Tuition and fees
$9,101
Enrollment
23,708

10. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Blacksburg, VA

Tuition and fees
$13,620
Enrollment
27,730
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Entry Level Jobs For Becoming A Landscape Architect

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Top Skills For a Landscape Architect

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 13.3% of landscape architects listed landscape installation on their resume, but soft skills such as analytical skills and visualization skills are important as well.

Best States For a Landscape Architect

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a landscape architect. The best states for people in this position are California, Alaska, Missouri, and Nebraska. Landscape architects make the most in California with an average salary of $82,606. Whereas in Alaska and Missouri, they would average $79,651 and $73,427, respectively. While landscape architects would only make an average of $72,271 in Nebraska, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. District of Columbia

Total Landscape Architect Jobs:
64
Highest 10% Earn:
$121,000
Location Quotient:
1.75
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Virginia

Total Landscape Architect Jobs:
250
Highest 10% Earn:
$108,000
Location Quotient:
1.34
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Nebraska

Total Landscape Architect Jobs:
28
Highest 10% Earn:
$113,000
Location Quotient:
1.09
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Landscape Architect Employers

1. Sasaki
3.8
Avg. Salary: 
$57,939
Landscape Architects Hired: 
71+
2. SmithGroupJJR
3.6
Avg. Salary: 
$58,293
Landscape Architects Hired: 
27+
3. LAND DESIGN STUDIO
3.6
Avg. Salary: 
$58,939
Landscape Architects Hired: 
21+
4. AECOM
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$62,702
Landscape Architects Hired: 
13+
5. CRJA-IBI Group
3.0
Avg. Salary: 
$48,073
Landscape Architects Hired: 
12+
6. Olin
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$51,926
Landscape Architects Hired: 
10+

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Recently Added Landscape Architect Jobs

Updated October 2, 2020