Landscape Architect: Job Duties, Career Outlook, and Education Prerequisites
Landscape architects prepare plans, budgets and models for landscape projects. These include parks, public pools and college campuses. Read on to find out about education and licensure requirements, along with the career outlook. Schools offering Landscape Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What Do Landscape Architects Do?
As a landscape architect, you must take a number of factors into consideration before you start working on a design. You must check state and government regulations, analyze the site and calculate the budget. You must also consult with other professionals such as hydrologists, engineers and building architects to create functional and aesthetically pleasing designs that follow government and building code regulations. You can choose to specialize in a certain area, such as historic landscape preservation, street and highway beautification, shopping centers or environmentally friendly green design.
What Kind of Degree Do I Need?
Earning a bachelor's or master's degree in landscape architecture from an accredited college is generally required to become a landscape architect. A bachelor's degree program typically takes 4-5 years to complete, while a master's degree program can take 2-3 years. These degree programs help you develop skills in land surveying, CAD drafting, research strategies and budgeting. You will also gain an understanding of construction methods and various building materials.
Typically, students spend the last year of their studies focusing on a thesis portfolio. The thesis design is meant to represent your skills and artistic visions. A good thesis project can help you get an apprenticeship or entry-level position after graduation. You may also be given opportunities to participate in internships while earning your degree.
What Kind of Licensure Requirements Will I Have?
To practice at the professional level, most states require landscape architects to be licensed in the state in which they intend to work. To become licensed, you must graduate from an accredited bachelor's or master's degree program in landscape architecture and gain hands-on experience as an apprentice or intern with a landscape architect. After a 1- to 4-year period, you can apply for a take the Landscape Architect Registration Examination (L.A.R.E.), which is administered by the American Society of Landscape Architects. Some states may require that you take an additional state examination. Earning a government issued certificate from the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards can make it easier to later obtain licensure in additional states.
What is the Career Outlook for Landscape Architects?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of landscape architects was expected to grow 20% between 2008 and 2018 (www.bls.gov). Graduates with internship experience, technical proficiency in CAD and knowledge of environmental regulations can expect the best job prospects. In 2008, about 21% of landscape architects were self-employed, while 51% worked for building design, engineering and other service companies. In 2010, the middle half of landscape architects earned between $47,160 and $81,190 per year.
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