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.
The goals of landscape architects are to enhance the natural beauty of a space and foster environmental benefits. Landscape architects may plan the restoration of natural places that were changed by humans or nature, such as wetlands, streams, and mined areas. They also may design green roofs (roofs that are covered in soil and plants) or rooftop gardens that can retain storm water, absorb air pollution, and cool buildings while also providing pleasant scenery.
Landscape architects held about 23,500 jobs in 2018. The largest employers of landscape architects were as follows:
|Architectural, engineering, and related services||54%|
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.
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.
New hires awaiting licensure may be called intern landscape architects. Although duties vary with the type and size of the employing firm, interns typically must work under the supervision of a licensed landscape architect for the experience to count toward licensure. Potential landscape architects may benefit by completing an internship with a landscape architecture firm during educational studies. Interns may improve their technical skills and gain an understanding of the day-to-day operations of the business, including learning how to recruit clients, generate fees, and work within a budget.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
All states require landscape architects to be licensed. Candidates for licensure must pass the Landscape Architect Registration Examination (LARE), which is sponsored by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards.
Candidates who are interested in taking the exam usually need a degree from an accredited school and experience working under the supervision of a licensed landscape architect, although standards vary by state. For candidates without a degree in landscape architecture, many states offer alternative paths—which usually require more work experience—to qualify to take the LARE.
In addition to the LARE, some states have their own registration exam to test for competency on state-specific issues, such as earthquakes in California or hurricanes in Florida. State-specific exams may focus on laws, environmental regulations, plants, soils, climate, and other characteristics unique to the state.
Licensed landscape architects also may obtain voluntary certification from the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards, which might make it easier to get licensed in another state.
Analytical skills. Landscape architects must understand how their designs will affect locations. When designing a building’s drainage system, for example, landscape architects must understand the interaction between the building and the surrounding land.
Communication skills. Landscape architects share their ideas, both orally and in writing, with clients, other architects, and workers who help prepare drawings. Effective communication is essential to ensuring that the vision for a project gets translated into reality.
Creativity. Landscape architects create the overall look of gardens, parks, and other outdoor areas. Their designs should be both pleasing to the eye and functional.
Problem-solving skills. When designing outdoor spaces, landscape architects must be able to provide solutions to unanticipated challenges. These solutions often involve looking at challenges from different perspectives and providing the best recommendations.
Technical skills. Landscape architects use computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) programs to create representations of their projects. Some also must use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for their designs.
Visualization skills. Landscape architects must be able to imagine how an overall outdoor space will look once completed.
The median annual wage for landscape architects was $68,230 in May 2018.
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 $40,710, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $113,340.
In May 2018, the median annual wages for landscape architects in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
|Architectural, engineering, and related services||68,900|
Median annual wages, May 2018
- Architects, surveyors, and cartographers
- Landscape architects
- Total, all occupations
Employment of landscape architects is projected to grow 4 percent from 2018 to 2028, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
The need for planning and developing new and existing landscapes for commercial, industrial, and residential construction projects is expected to drive employment growth. In addition, environmental concerns and increased demand for sustainably designed buildings and open spaces should spur demand for the services of landscape architects. For example, landscape architects are involved in the design of green roofs, which are covered with vegetation and help reduce air and water pollution as well as decrease the costs of heating and cooling a building.
Efforts to conserve water and prevent waterway pollution are expected to continue, especially in areas prone to drought. Landscape architects will be needed to design plans for managing storm-water runoff in these efforts.
There may be strong competition for the relatively small number of jobs in this occupation. Job opportunities may fluctuate with the overall state of the economy, as the number of landscape architecture projects is often tied to increases or decreases in business and consumer spending.
|Occupational Title||SOC Code||Employment, 2018||Projected Employment, 2028||Change, 2018-28||Employment by Industry|
SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program
This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of landscape architects.
|Occupation||Job Duties||Entry-Level Education||Median Annual Pay, May 2018|
Architects plan and design houses, factories, office buildings, and other structures.
Civil engineers design, build, and supervise infrastructure projects and systems.
Construction managers plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise construction projects from start to finish.
Environmental Scientists and Specialists
Environmental scientists and specialists use their knowledge of the natural sciences to protect the environment and human health.
Hydrologists study how water moves across and through the Earth’s crust.
Surveying and Mapping Technicians
Surveying and mapping technicians collect data and make maps of the Earth’s surface.
|High school diploma or equivalent||$44,380|
Surveyors make precise measurements to determine property boundaries.
Urban and Regional Planners
Urban and regional planners develop land use plans and programs that help create communities, accommodate population growth, and revitalize physical facilities.
Drafters use software to convert the designs of engineers and architects into technical drawings.
Interior designers make indoor spaces functional, safe, and beautiful by determining space requirements and selecting essential and decorative items.
For more information, including a list of colleges and universities offering accredited programs in landscape architecture, visit
For information on registration or licensing requirements, visit
Related BLS Articles
Career Outlook: “Interview with a…Landscape architect”
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Landscape Architects,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/landscape-architects.htm (visited ).
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