Landscape architects create attractive and useful outdoor environments. They often use natural elements including trees, land and bushes to create attractive environments for highways, buildings, parks, shopping centers, residential areas and other settings. Landscape architects create small residential landscapes and large public landscapes. Some landscape architects are involved with industrial projects and design attractive landscapes for factories. Some common job titles are land planner, golf course architect and landscape designer.
Sometimes several landscape architects work together on a landscaping project. They collaborate with surveyors, building architects and engineers to determine the best arrangements of buildings and roads. They may oversee drafters and trainees. Some landscape architects have a specialty such as waterfront improvement or street and highway beautification. Some of these architects design and plan for the restoration of natural locations disturbed by humans including stream corridors, wetlands, forested areas and mined areas.
While planning a project, they take into consideration the purpose of the project and the amount of funds available. They evaluate the natural elements of the setting and evaluate the existing roads, walkways, buildings and utilities to figure out the necessary improvements. They also evaluate the impact the project will have on the local ecosystem. In addition, landscape architects need to follow government regulations.
A landscape architect creates a preliminary design which takes into consideration the desires and needs of the client and the conditions at the project site. They develop detailed drawings of the entire location which includes current and new features. Creating drawings of specific features of the project is also part of the job. The drawings are often developed by landscape architects with the use of computer-aided design (CAD).
- Make recommendations on the proper use of the land
- Confer with clients about the project
- Make maps of the area that show the locations of trees and buildings
- Develop detailed drawings of the entire site which include current and new features
- Submit working drawings and lists to contractors for bids
- Develop drawing of specific features of the plan
- Perform topographic surveys
- Evaluate the makeup of the soil and its exposure to the sun and wind
- Create sketches of proposed plans and submit to client
- Make modifications to plans
They work in an office while planning projects. Once the project is initiated, they spend a lot of time at the site. They also visit the project site during the designing stages to ensure that the landscape design can be incorporated into the site. They typically work 40 hours a week, however they may work additional hours to meet deadlines.
Landscape architects should be creative and artistic. Strong analytical skills are important in the occupation. They also need good written and oral communications skills.
The employment of landscape architects is forecasted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to grow by 20 percent during the 2008 to 2018 timeframe which is much faster than the average for all occupations. The increased demand for sustainably designed construction projects and environmental concerns will increase the demand for landscape architects. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics about 21 percent of landscape architects were self-employed in 2008. In addition, the median annual earnings for landscape architects in 2008 was $58,960.
Education, Certification, and Licensing
In most states, landscape architects need to be licensed. Requirements vary by state, however they typically require landscape architects to have a landscape architecture degree from an accredited school, work experience along with passing the Landscape Architect Registration Exam (LARE). Most states offer those that don't have an accredited landscape architecture degree an alternative path for qualifying to take the LARE. The alternative path usually requires more work experience.
In some states, landscape architects have to pass a state examination along with passing the LARE. The majority of states require landscape architects to be involved in some type of continuing education in order to maintain a license.
The design studio is a vital component of any landscape architecture program. Students gain experience by working on real projects. They gain knowledge and skills regarding computer-aided design (CAD), geographic information systems, model building and video simulation while working on their projects. In addition, a summer internship with a landscape architecture company while going to school can be very beneficial.
Two undergraduate degrees that are available are the Bachelor of Landscape Architecture and the Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture. Numerous colleges and universities offer landscape architecture programs that have received accreditation from the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board of the American Society of Landscape Architects.
Some landscape architects have earned a master's degree in landscape architecture. People that have earned a bachelor's degree in a subject other than landscape architecture can enroll in a Master of Landscape Architecture graduate degree program. In addition, those that meet national requirements can acquire certification from the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards.
The top employers are architectural firms, landscaping services companies, engineering firms, local government agencies, and federal government agencies.
Schools for Landscape Architects are listed in the Browse Schools Section.