Landscape architects design parks and other outdoor spaces.
What they do
Landscape architects design parks and the outdoor spaces of campuses, recreational facilities, businesses, private homes, and other open spaces.
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 landscaping materials
- 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 various technologies in their work. For example, using 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 providing clues on where to start planning and how to anticipate future effects of the landscape, such as rainfall running into a valley.
Landscape architects spend much of their time in offices, where they create plans and designs, prepare models and preliminary cost estimates, and meet with clients and workers involved in designing or planning a project. They spend the rest of their time at jobsites.
How to become a Landscape Architect
Landscape architects usually need at least a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture and a state-issued license, which typically requires completion of an internship.
A bachelor's or master's degree in landscape architecture is usually necessary for entry into the profession. There are two undergraduate landscape architect 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). Prospective landscape architects whose undergraduate degree is in another field may enroll in a Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) graduate degree program, which typically takes 3 years of full-time study.
Courses typically include landscape design and construction, landscape ecology, and site design. Other relevant coursework may include history of landscape architecture, plant and soil science, and professional practice.
The design studio is a key component of any curriculum. When possible, students are assigned projects that offer hands-on experience. These projects allow students to work with computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), model building, and other design software.
To become licensed, candidates must meet experience requirements determined by each state. A list of training requirements is available from the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards
The median annual wage for landscape architects was $69,360 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $42,320, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $112,290.
Employment of landscape architects is projected to decline 2 percent from 2019 to 2029.
Improving technologies are expected to increase landscape architects’ productivity, which should reduce overall demand for the occupation over the next 10 years.
However, there will continue to be some need for these workers to plan and develop landscapes for commercial, industrial, and residential projects. Environmental concerns and efforts to conserve water and prevent waterway pollution also may create some demand for landscape architects.
Similar Job Titles
Designer, Director of Landscape Architecture and Planning, Golf Course Architect, Land Planner, Landscape Architect, Landscape Architect and Planner, Landscape Designer, Planner, Project Landscape Architect, Senior Landscape Architect
Architects, Civil Engineer, Soil and Water Conservationist, Transportation Planner, Interior Designer
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- American Institute of Certified Planners
- American Planning Association
- American Society of Landscape Architects
- Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture
- Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards
- International Society of Arboriculture
- Landscape Architecture Foundation
- National Recreation and Park Association
- Urban Land Institute
Magazines and Publications
The Dirt (blog)
NRPA Open Space (blog and podcast)
Video embed source code:
With large populations and heavy commuter traffic in American cities, it's more important than ever to keep our metropolises from turning into concrete jungles. Landscape architects create the parks and open spaces that keep our built environment vibrant and green. Whether designing a corporate campus, a small-town playground, a national monument, or college campus, landscape architects design outdoor spaces so that they are not only easy to use but also harmonize with the natural environment. Keeping their clients' priorities first, landscape architects also need to consider the community and the climate. Landscape architects are the center of a team, turning clients' requests into design proposals and leading workers who put the design on the ground. While most work full time, they split their days between the office, meetings with clients, and trips to suppliers and jobsites. Landscape architects need problem solving and analytical skills to lead sometimes complex projects. Extensive knowledge of materials and how they behave in different circumstances is essential, along with drafting and design skills, including design software. A bachelor's degree in landscape architecture is needed to enter the field, and almost all states require licensure. Landscape architects play a big role in keeping our environment attractive... and livable.