What Education Do I Need to Become a Professional Landscaper?

Landscapers focus on beautifying outdoor spaces. Read on to learn more about the landscaping career opportunities available to you, as well as the education, licensure, and certification requirements. Schools offering Landscape Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

The title of 'professional landscaper' is sometimes used synonymously with a number of other job titles, including grounds maintenance workers, landscapers, groundskeepers, or even landscape architects. Read on to learn more about the requirements and training needed become a professional landscaper, and the differences between varying job titles.

Grounds Maintenance Workers

Education Requirements

Many groundskeepers, also known as landscapers or grounds maintenance workers, aren't required to have formal training. In most cases, you'll receive on-the-job training from your place of employment, such as private residences, commercial properties, golf courses, university campuses, or cemeteries. You'll learn about cutting lawns, trimming trees, planting flowers, and applying pesticides.

If you're interested in management positions or in starting your own landscaping company, you may want to consider completing an associate's or bachelor's degree program in landscaping technology, horticulture, or a related field. These programs can provide you with instruction in topics that include:

  • Fertilizers
  • Pest control
  • Landscaping equipment repair
  • Irrigation systems

Licensure and Certification

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), many states will require you to get licensed or certified if you work with pesticides and other chemicals. Usually, you'll just need to pass a test on the safe use of landscaping chemicals. Depending on your employer's needs, you may also need to have a driver's license.

You might consider earning a voluntary professional certification. The Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS, www.pgms.org) offers designations as a certified grounds technician or a certified grounds manager. They both require a combination of experience and education and the completion of examinations. You can also choose from a variety of similar certifications offered by the Professional Landcare Network (www.landcarenetwork.org).

Landscape Architects

Education Requirements

Landscape architects, unlike groundskeepers, are required to have extensive formal education and training. With it, you'll be able to design parks, playgrounds, golf courses, shopping malls, and other outdoor spaces, making sure your designs have minimal impact on natural resources and environments. You may work closely with contractors, engineers, surveyors, and other professionals to bring your designs to life.

You'll likely need a bachelor's or master's degree in landscape architecture. In 2014, the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board of the American Society of Landscape Architects (www.asla.org) accredited 60 colleges and universities with undergraduate and graduate programs in the subject. A bachelor's degree program in landscape architecture may take you four to five years to complete, while a master's degree program can be completed in two to three years. In any degree program, you can expect to complete a number of studio design courses where you'll develop some of the hands-on skills needed to succeed in the field. You can also study topics that include:

  • Urban planning
  • Landscape ecology
  • Site construction and materials
  • Landscape representation

Licensure and Certification

The BLS reported that all 50 states required landscape architects to hold a professional license as of 2013. You can acquire licensure by passing the Landscape Architect Registration Examination, which is offered by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB). In order to sit for the exam, you'll need a degree from an accredited program and anywhere from one to four years of related professional experience, depending on your state. You can also pursue certification through CLARB.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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