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How to Become a Landscape Architect

If you love creating and are looking for a job where you can spend time outdoors, then becoming a landscape architect could be an exciting career path for you. Landscape architects map and design public parks, gardens, playgrounds, residential areas, and other public areas to make them both operational and pretty. It will be essential for landscape architects to have strong interpersonal and critical thinking skills to meet the expectations of their clients.

People interested in landscape architecture should prepare to get a bachelor’s or master’s degree in architecture and earn the right license that is required for their state. This will prepare landscape architects to work with AutoCAD software, create layouts for buildings and surrounding land, and develop precision and mathematical skills to accomplish the assignments they are given.

Landscape architects will visit worksites to help them develop a vision for the project and how they can design various gardens, parks, and buildings around sustainability and conservation principles. This job opportunity is rewarding for any architect looking to create beautiful spaces for others while protecting the natural environment with other engineers, hydrologists, and architects.

Sample job description

[Your company name] is searching for an experienced landscape architect. We are in need of a licensed architect who is responsible with exceptional communication skills, who has an eye for detail, and has excellent listening skills. A landscape architect is responsible for drawing plans, making designs, preparing cost estimates, arranging meetings, conducting contracts, and analyzing reports. It is important that as a landscape architect you be tech-savvy, as a lot of the work is done on a computer. This position comes with a lot of responsibility so it is crucial that you have strong analytical skills, problem solving skills, and critical thinking skills. If you enjoy planning and designing then this position at our company could be the perfect fit!

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Design landscape proposals using drafting software and by hand when necessary
  • Interact and consult with clients and maintain client relationships
  • Confer with government officials to ensure compliance of local regulations and standards
  • Collaborate with a team in the creation and completion of projects
  • Prepare proposal documents and assist in client presentations
  • Work closely with vendors and subcontractors to ensure quality deliverables

Education and experience

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture and a landscape architecture license.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Leadership and collaboration expertise
  • Developed negotiation skills
  • Client-consulting and relationship-building ability
  • Proficient in AutoCAD, SketchUp, and other related software
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills
  • Organized, detail-oriented and self-starting

Preferred qualifications

  • Master’s degree in architecture, design, or a related field
  • 5+ years of experience working in landscape design
  • Extremely creative with a flair for modern style

Typical work environment

Most landscape architects spend much of their time in their offices, creating plans, designs, preparing cost estimates, arranging meetings with clients, and making plans with employees involved with the project like other engineers or architects. When they are not in the office they are making visits to the job sites in order to create practical and efficient environments.

Typical hours

The typical work hours for a landscape architect are from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday, generally in an office or on-site setting.  

Available certifications

Those wanting to become a landscape architect would benefit from receiving additional certifications. Here are a few popular ones:

  • Certified Landscape Architect. (CLARB). For this certification you need to have at least 2 years of work experience. CLARB stands for The Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards which is known in this industry. Those who obtain this certification shows that you have met the standards required by CLARB. 
  • Certified Urban Designer. (CUD). Persons who obtain this certification have at least 8 years of experience in urban design. This certification signifies that you have the skills, experience, and knowledge needed to succeed in this line of work.
  • LEED AP Building Design & Construction. (LEED). This certification is for those who are designing green buildings. LEED AP stands for Accredited Professional. This ensures that you are knowledgeable in constructing and designing green buildings. 
  • Certified Planning Engineer. (CPE). This certification is a great one to have as a landscape architect as many of them don’t go on to get this certificate. This certificate can ensure you gain the top planning skills needed in this industry. 
  • Professional Landscape Architect. (PLA). This certification signifies that you are a licensed professional landscape architect. You have taken the necessary steps to make sure you are knowledgeable about this line of work. This abbreviation means that you have a college degree in landscape architecture, have passed the licensing exam, and you are licensed in the state you are currently in.

Career path

Becoming a landscape architect is a rigorous process that starts with a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture. Job candidates also need a license to practice in the state they will be working in, by gaining work experience and passing the appropriate exams. 

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 17-1012

2020 Employment23,600
Projected Employment in 203023,700
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 0%
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift100 increase

Unsurprisingly, clients will increasingly task landscape architects with solutions to mitigate climate change’s effects on all landscape types. Similar requests could come from governments and the insurance industry. This trend will help drive innovations and improvements in designs and standards for landscape architecture.