Landscape architects have a direct impact on how our homes and public spaces look. They design residential centers, parks, gardens, commercial centers, playgrounds, campuses, grounds and more. More than ever, landscape architects work to implement new environmentally conscious and sustainable designs that enhance squares, waterfronts, city centers, zoos, golf courses and recreation areas. If you have a love for nature, consider training to become a landscape architect.
What Does a Landscape Architect Do?
Modern landscape architects work with commercial and governmental developers, urban planners, engineers and building designers to create harmonious and attractive landscapes. Some work as private contractors, while others may be part of a large company or a government agency. They may work on a number of different types of projects, including:
- Designing new or renovated buildings and facilities
- Restoring natural waterways, streams and forest areas that have been harmed by development
- Working as a team member for commercial, residential, industrial or governmental buildings
Most landscape architects will work as part of a team. Many must meet with clients, engineers, and other architects to collaborate and work on a project together. Landscape architects typically do the following tasks:
- Know the budget and cost estimates of a project
- Understand the existing features, and work them together with proposed new features and structures
- Use computer design and drafting (CADD) software to present your vision
- Choose and purchase the materials that will be used in a design
- Analyze environmental reports on land conditions like drainage and energy usage
Keep in mind that your designs must take into account federal, state and local regulations, environmental laws and building codes that govern new or renovated construction projects. You can join a group of dedicated, talented professionals if you become a landscape architect.
What are the Steps to Becoming a Landscape Architect?
The BLS reports that the path to becoming a landscape architect begins with completion of a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture. Here are some of the essential steps in the process of building your career:
- Enroll in a four or five-year undergraduate degree program
- Take courses in surveying, landscape design, plant and soil science, geology, environmental science, desktop publishing, and CAD drafting
- Compile your own portfolio while in college to show your abilities to prospective employers
- Complete an internship with an environmental design firm or landscape architecture firm before graduation
- Earn your certification/license and pass the Landscape Architect Registration Examination (L.A.R.E.)
The BLS reports that 49 states require professional landscape architects to pass the Landscape Architect Registration Examination (L.A.R.E.) that combines multiple-choice questions with a practical graphic designing section. You may be able to work as an apprentice or intern landscape architect while preparing for or awaiting results from your exams.
Some states may also require you to pass their own examinations on the specific laws, environmental rules and climatic conditions germane to their region. The Federal government does not require its landscape architects to hold a license for jobs, but having one may help you advance in your career.
How to Become a GREAT Landscape Architect
If you want to rise to the top of the landscape architecture field, you need to successfully complete several years of practical experience. To become a project manager with a design firm or building company, you may need additional college courses in business, management, budgeting and human resource management.
Colleges and universities offer the Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA), an advanced degree that can take two years to complete if you already hold your undergraduate degree. Most states require continuing education in order to maintain your license. You can combine your ongoing degree work with state requirements to build credentials for advancement.
Landscape architects may wish to pursue advanced degrees in environmental science or urban planning to shift into management specialties with design corporations or governmental agencies.