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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:
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.
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.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Landscape Architect
Top Careers After Landscape Architect
Hispanic or Latino7.6%
Black or African American0.7%
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University of Georgia11.3%
Iowa State University9.8%
West Virginia University8.3%
Pennsylvania State University6.9%
Ball State University6.4%
Mississippi State University5.9%
Michigan State University5.4%
Utah State University5.4%
Louisiana State University and A&M College4.9%
University of Florida4.9%
State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry4.4%
Texas Tech University3.9%
Ohio State University3.9%
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University3.4%
University of Arizona2.9%
University of Wisconsin Extension2.5%
University of Massachusetts Amherst2.5%
University of Rhode Island2.5%
Colorado State University2.5%
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Landscape Architect.||Greenlanders Group, Inc.||Fort Lauderdale, FL||Jan 14, 2016||$86,133|
|Landscape Architect||Richard Krumwiede Inc.||Rancho Cucamonga, CA||Sep 15, 2015||$84,127|
|Landscape Architect||James Corner Field Operations||New York, NY||Feb 27, 2016||$83,000|
|Landscape Architect||Rios Associates Inc., DBA/Rios Clementi Hale Studio||Los Angeles, CA||Jul 13, 2016||$77,792|
|Mid-Level Landscape Architect-Associate||Sasaki Associates, Inc.||Watertown Town, MA||Sep 16, 2015||$75,000|
|Landscape Architect||Ecografx, Inc.||San Luis Obispo, CA||Jan 09, 2016||$75,000|
|Landscape Architect||Wallace Roberts & Todd LLC||San Francisco, CA||Apr 18, 2016||$74,000|
|Landscape Architect||Rabben/Herman Design Office||Newport Beach, CA||Jun 22, 2016||$72,100|
|Landscape Architect Staff Member||Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects & Planners, PLLC||New York, NY||Apr 15, 2016||$72,000|
|Mid-Level Landscape Architect-Associate||Sasaki Associates||Watertown Town, MA||Feb 23, 2015||$70,741|
|Associate Landscape Architect||GLS Landscape/Architecture||San Francisco, CA||Jan 10, 2016||$70,000|
|Associate Landscape Architect||GLS Landscape/Architecture||San Francisco, CA||Feb 25, 2015||$70,000|
|JR Landscape Architect||Thomas Balsley Associate Landscape Architecture PLLC||New York, NY||Sep 19, 2016||$58,000|
|JR Landscape Architect||Thomas Balsley Associate Landscape Architecture PLLC||New York, NY||Feb 08, 2016||$58,000|
|Landscape Architect||Lee and Associates, Inc.||Washington, DC||Sep 07, 2015||$57,000|
|Landscape Architect||Black Jungle Enterprises, Inc.||North Miami, FL||Sep 18, 2015||$56,599|
|Landscape Architect||Black Jungle Enterprises, Inc.||North Miami, FL||Sep 18, 2015||$56,410|
|Landscape Architect||Raymond Jungles, Inc.||Miami, FL||Feb 10, 2016||$56,306|
|Landscape Architect||Sasaki Associates, Inc.||Watertown Town, MA||Aug 27, 2015||$52,520|
|Landscape Architect||Landscape Architecture Bureau LLC||Washington, DC||Aug 31, 2016||$52,499 -
|Landscape Architect||Landdesign, Inc.||Alexandria, VA||Jan 09, 2016||$52,499|
|Landscape Architect||EPT Design, Inc.||Pasadena, CA||Mar 21, 2015||$52,467|
|Landscape Architect||Design Workshop, Inc.||Denver, CO||Feb 09, 2015||$52,437|
|Landscape Architect I||Perkins + Will, Inc.||Minneapolis, MN||Jan 09, 2016||$52,000|
|Landscape Architect||Sasaki Associates, Inc.||Watertown Town, MA||Aug 22, 2015||$51,314|
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Eddie George on Careers in Landscape Architecture
Laurie Olin on Skills of a Landscape Architect
Expectation and Reality: Life as a Landscape Architect