|What is a landscape architect?
Residential areas. Parks. Playgrounds. Colleges. Shopping centers.
Golf courses. Industrial parks.
What do these places have in common? They all look better with
Landscape architects design outdoor areas that are useful, but
beautiful. They design landscapes that are in harmony with nature.
They decide where to put flowers, shrubs, trees, walkways, and
other landscape details. They work with architects, surveyors,
and engineers, to find the best place to put roads and buildings.
They work with environmental scientists to find the best way to
conserve or restore natural resources.
Real estate developers, local governments, and many other kinds
of organizations employ landscape architects. Landscape architects
must first consider the purpose of a project. They analyze the
natural elements of the site. These include the climate, soil,
slope of the land, drainage, and vegetation. They observe where
sunlight falls at different times. They look at existing buildings,
roads, walkways, and utilities.
Then, landscape architects prepare a draft design. They must
comply with any local, State, or Federal regulations. Computer-aided
design (CAD) is an essential tool for most landscape architects.
Many landscape architects use video simulation to help clients
see the plans. Landscape architects also use geographic information
systems (GIS) technology.
Once the design is complete they produce written reports, sketches,
models, photographs, land-use studies, and cost estimates. These
are submitted for the client and regulatory agencies to approve.
When the plans are approved, landscape architects prepare working
drawings. They outline the building methods and draw up a list
of needed materials. The general contractor or a landscape contractor
usually directs the actual construction.
Some landscape architects work on all kinds of projects. Others
specialize in a specific area. For example, they might concentrate
on residential areas, street and highway beautification, waterfront
improvement, or parks and playgrounds. More and more landscape
architects are working on environmental remediation projects.
Historic landscape preservation and restoration is another important
Landscape architects who work in government do landscape design
for government buildings, parks, and other public lands. They
also prepare environmental impact statements. Some restore degraded
land, such as mines or landfills.
Landscape architects spend most of their time in offices. There
they create plans and designs, prepare models and cost estimates,
and do research. They also meet with clients. When they're not
in the office, they're outdoors at the places where the landscaping
will be done.
Landscape architects usually work regular hours. They may work
overtime to meet a project deadline. Hours of self-employed landscape
|How do you get ready to become a landscape architect?
A bachelor's or master's degree in landscape architecture is
usually needed. The bachelor's degree in landscape architecture
takes 4 or 5 years.
There are about 75 programs in landscape architecture accredited
by the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board of the American
Society of Landscape Architects. Students study technical subjects
such as surveying, landscape design and construction, landscape
ecology, site design, and urban and regional planning. Other courses
include history of landscape architecture, plant and soil science,
geology, professional practice, and general management. Some courses
address environmental issues. Whenever possible, students work
on real projects, providing them with valuable hands-on experience.
Most States require landscape architects to be licensed or registered.
Licensing is based on the Landscape Architect Registration Examination
(L.A.R.E.), which is sponsored by the Council of Landscape Architectural
Registration Boards. Some States also require passing a State
In States where licensure is required, new hires may be called
"apprentices" or "intern landscape architects" until they become
licensed. They must be supervised by a licensed landscape architect.
Persons who wish to work in landscape architecture should love
nature. They must enjoy working with their hands. Creative vision
and artistic talent are desirable. Good communication skills are
essential. They must know how to convey their ideas to others
and to speak before groups. Strong writing skills also are valuable.
Computer skills, including word processing, desktop publishing,
and spreadsheets are a plus.
Many landscape architects are self-employed. Start-up costs,
after buying CAD software, are fairly low. Self-discipline and
business and marketing skills are important for the self-employed.
Still, some may struggle while building a client base.
|How much does a landscape architect make?
In 2002, the middle 50 percent of landscape architects earned
of between $36,140 and $62,470. The lowest-paid 10 percent earned
less than $28,730. The highest-paid 10 percent earned over $79,620.
There were about 23,000 landscape architects in 2002. About 4
out of 10 worked for firms that provide architectural, engineering,
and related services. Almost 1 of every 4 landscape architects
Employment of landscape architects is concentrated in urban and
suburban areas. Some work in rural areas, especially those employed
by the Federal Government to plan and design parks and recreation
Employment of landscape architects is expected to grow faster
than the average for all occupations through the year 2012. A
growing population means there will be more residential, commercial,
and other types of construction. Landscape architects will be
needed to do the landscape planning for these projects.
Land costs are rising and the public is demanding more beautiful
spaces. Also, there are environmental regulations, land use zoning,
and water restrictions that new construction must comply with.
This spurs demand for landscape architects.
However, opportunities will vary depending on local economic
conditions. During a recession, real estate sales and construction
slow down. Landscape architects may face layoffs.
Budget tightening in the Federal Government might restrict hiring
in the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service. Instead,
such agencies may contract out for landscape architecture services.
This would provide employment in private landscape architecture
Landscape architects may do more residential design work. Households
are spending more on landscaping than in the past. Landscape architects
can work on many different types of projects, so they may have
an easier time than other design professionals finding employment
when traditional construction slows down.
New graduates will face competition for jobs in the largest and
best landscape architecture firms, but should face good job opportunities
overall as demand increases. Internship experience, which reduces
the need for on-the-job training, is preferred by many employers.
|Are there other jobs like this?
|Where can you find more information?
More information about landscape architects can be found in the
Occupational Outlook Handbook -- U.S. Department of Labor Bureau
of Labor Statistics