How to Become a Landscape Architect

By Indeed Editorial Team

May 15, 2022

Landscape architects design and create the outdoor spaces many people enjoy. These professionals must meet certain requirements before they can actively create aesthetically pleasing outdoor designs. If you're interested in becoming a landscape architect, it's helpful to know the details of their job responsibilities and what you'll have to do to become one. In this article, we discuss what landscape architects do, their average salary and how you can become a landscape architect step-by-step.

What does a landscape architect do?

A landscape architect designs, plans and manages man-made and natural environments to create innovative areas, wildlife habitats, thriving communities and sustainable infrastructure. The main disciplines of landscape design include urban design, landscape planning, landscape management, landscape academia. A well-trained landscape architect uses a combination of art and design skills to generate creative solutions for urban and natural areas. The landscape architect considers political, cultural, social and economic factors when planning designs. Specific responsibilities of a landscape architect include:

  • Preparing site plans, cost estimates and specifications

  • Meeting with engineers, clients and building architects to gauge project requirements

  • Preparing visual representations of future projects using computer-aided drafting and design software

  • Identifying and selecting appropriate landscaping tools and materials

  • Analyzing environmental reports on land conditions such as drainage and energy usage

  • Inspecting landscape progress to ensure it meets the project design

  • Marketing and presentations to obtain new clients

A landscape architect may design spaces such as:

  • Parks

  • College campuses

  • Recreational facilities

  • Businesses

  • Private homes

  • Gardens

Average salary of landscape architects

Landscape architects may be self-employed or work for the government, or they may work for services in landscaping, architecture or engineering. The average salary for landscape architects varies based on level of expertise, industry and geographical location.

Common average salary in the U.S.: $64,757 per year (as of November 2019)

Salaries range from $20,000 to $134,000 per year.

Related: How to Disclose Salary Requirements

Steps to becoming a landscape architect

If you're interested in becoming a landscape architect, follow these steps:

  1. Complete a bachelor's degree.

  2. Pursue an internship.

  3. Obtain a license.

  4. Consider advanced education.

  5. Join a professional organization.

1. Complete a bachelor's degree

You must have a bachelor's degree to meet the minimum requirements to become a landscape architect. You may choose from two undergraduate landscape architect degrees: Bachelor of Landscape Architecture or BLA, and Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture or BSLA. Make sure the program is accredited and approved by the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board.

Landscape architect students take courses such as landscape ecology, site design, landscape design and construction. Other coursework may include professional practice, history of landscape architecture, and plant and soil science.

Students are often assigned projects that offer hands-on experience with model building, computer design software and other useful software. This degree typically takes about four to five years to complete.

2. Pursue an internship

Internship experience is typically required before you can obtain a license in landscape architecture. You can complete an internship during your educational studies, or you can wait until your education is complete and pursue a job as a trainee or intern landscape architect.

During your internship, you will work under the supervision of a licensed landscape architect and learn to improve your technical skills. You'll gain an understanding of the day-to-day operations in landscape architecture, including working within a budget, recruiting clients and charging necessary fees. Each landscape architect intern may learn different tasks depending on the size and type of the firm.

3. Obtain a license

Most states require landscape architects to be licensed. Prospective landscape architects must pass the LARE or Landscape Architect Registration Examination, which is administered by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards. Individuals who wish to take the exam are required to have a degree from an accredited program and internship experience working under a licensed landscape architect.

Standards for the examination vary state by state. Some may have state-specific competency exams based on characteristics that are unique to each state, such as earthquakes in California or hurricanes in Florida.

4. Consider advanced education

You may consider obtaining a master's degree in landscape architecture to further your knowledge and understanding of landscape design, theory and history. Although a master's in landscape architecture is not required before you begin working in this role, it may boost your employability and increase your earning potential.

A Bachelor's Degree in Landscape Architecture is not required before you enter this master's program. If you obtained your bachelor's degree in another subject, you will have to meet the necessary course requirements to fulfill your master's degree.

The program takes three years or more without a bachelor's degree in landscape architecture and two years with a bachelor's degree in landscape architecture. Students who enter this program may choose an area of concentration, like heritage conservation or site planning.

5. Join a professional organization

To network and establish yourself as an expert in your career, you may consider enrolling in one of the popular professional organizations for landscape architects. These organizations are:

The American Society of Landscape Architects

ASLA represents landscape architecture in the United States and is dedicated to education, advancing knowledge and broadening the skill set of landscape architects. The society offers continuing education classes to assist landscape architects with maintaining licensing requirements.

The Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture

CELA provides opportunities for communication and personal interaction between landscape architecture educators, practitioners and students through annual conferences, publications and regional meetings.

Frequently asked questions

You may have some lingering concerns about the landscape architect career path. Here are some frequently asked questions with answers that will provide you with additional information:

What skills do landscape architects need to be successful in their positions?

Landscape architects need to have a variety of hard and soft skills to succeed in their careers. Here are the most common skills that landscape architects should possess:

Analytical skills

It is essential for landscape architects to analyze the area they are building in to understand how their designs will affect locations. For example, a drainage system should be designed to not cause flooding to a nearby building.

Technical skills

These professionals use a variety of computer software programs, like computer-aided design and drafting programs, and they must know how to work them effectively to perform their job duties.

Creativity

Landscape architects are responsible to create the overall visual representation of many outdoor spaces that should be pleasing to the eye yet also functional.

Communication skills

Landscape architects must communicate their ideas with clients, other architects and workers who help with the process. They need to communicate both verbally and in writing to ensure their vision is understood and executed properly.

Related: The Best Job Skills to Make Your Resume Stand Out

What is a landscape architect's work schedule like?

Most landscape architects work a full-time schedule of 40 hours a week. They may not work a typical Monday-Friday schedule depending on who they are employed by. Some project or design deadlines may require them to work long hours, nights and weekends.

Where do landscape architects work?

Landscape architects often work indoors in an office setting to plan and design outdoor spaces. The remainder of their work time is spent on job sites.

What job titles are similar to landscape architects?

Several job titles are similar to landscape architects, including:

  • Architectural drafters

  • Geoscientists

  • Architects

  • Hydrologists

  • Civil engineers

Becoming a landscape architect takes training and time, but it means that you'll be able to utilize a variety of technical and artistic skills to improve the aesthetics of multiple outdoor locations. To help you decide if becoming a landscape architect is the right career path for you, check out Indeed's Guide: How to Choose a Career.

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