Landscape Architect Career Information

Landscape plan drawing

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A landscape architect designs residential areas, parks, shopping centers, parkways, golf courses and school campuses to make them beautiful, as well as functional. He or she must also see to it that these facilities are compatible with the natural environment. A landscape architect may work with other professionals including civil engineers, hydrologists, and architects.

Quick Facts

  • In 2014, landscape architects earned a median annual salary of $64,570.
  • This occupation employed almost 23,000 people in 2014.
  • Most people work in the architectural and engineering industry. Some work for landscaping service firms.
  • About 20% of all landscape architects are self-employed.
  • Most jobs are full time.
  • This occupation's outlook is good. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2024.

Education and Training

A landscape architect must earn a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) or a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture (BSLA). You will spend four to five years taking classes in design, construction techniques, art, history, and natural and social sciences to complete either degree. Whether or not you have an undergraduate degree in landscape architecture, you can earn a Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA). If you already have a BLA or BSLA, it will take you two years to complete your MLA but if you don't, you will spend three years in a master-level program.

This is a licensed occupation in all states in the U.S. While requirements vary, each state requires one to pass the Landscape Architect Registration Examination (L.A.R.E.) which is administered by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB). Other requirements may include getting a degree from a program that has been accredited by the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board of the American Society of Landscape Architects. CLARB maintains a list of all state licensing requirements.

Soft Skills Requirements

You will receive your technical training in school, but you will not gain these soft skills, or personal qualities, that are essential to your success as a landscape architect in a classroom:

  • Active Listening: This skill will allow you to understand your clients' needs and wants.
  • Verbal Communication: You must be able to convey information to your clients.
  • Creativity: Your creative will allow you to design beautiful outdoor spaces that are also functional.
  • Critical Thinking: Landscape architects must make decisions and solve problems. Strong critical thinking skills will let you identify possible solutions and then evaluate them before choosing the best one.
  • Reading Comprehension: You must be able to understand work-related documents.

    A day in the life of a landscape architect

    To find out what typical roles and responsibilities a landscape architect has we looked at job announcements on

    • "Manages the design, construction, and modification of park, recreation, landscape, fountains, monuments, facilities, boulevards, and parkways"
    • "Prepares planning documents, conceptual and schematic designs, construction details, construction documents, technical specifications and cost estimates for a wide variety of public and private sector projects"
    • "Assists with estimating and proposal writing"
    • "Interfaces with clients and jurisdictional authorities"
    • "Coordinates the arrangement of existing and proposed land features and structures"

      Job Duties

      • While landscape architects beautify outdoor spaces, they spend most of their time working in offices creating and modifying plans, preparing cost estimates and meeting with clients. They periodically visit job sites to check on the progress of projects and to make sure they meet specifications.
      • Landscape architects don't use pen and paper to draw their plans. Instead, they use computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) software.

      Employer Expectations

      What do employers look for when they hire landscape architects? Here are some requirements from actual job announcements found on

      • "Ability to manage multiple projects simultaneously"
      • "Proficient in AutoCAD, Sketch-up, Adobe Creative Suite, and MS Office. Experience and proficiency in LandFX, 3D StudioMax, and/or Microstation a plus"
      • "Organized, detail oriented, and exhibits a willingness to learn"
      • "Excellent hand & computer graphics skills"
      • "Positive attitude and a strong work ethic"
      • "Ability to work effectively within a collaborative team and office environment"

      Personality Fit

      Related Occupations

      Occupation Description Median Annual Wage (2014) Minimum Required Education/Training
      Architect Designs buildings, making sure they are functional, safe and suit the needs of those who inhabit them


      Bachelor's or Master's of Architecture Degree
      Environmental Engineer Uses engineering principles to solve problems in the environment $83,360 Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Engineering
      Mapping Technician Helps cartographers update maps $40,770 Associate or Bachelor's degree in geomatics or a related field
      Architectural Drafter Uses software to make technical drawings from architects' designs $49,970 Associate degree in architectural drafting

      Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 (visited February 15, 2016 ).
      Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET Online (visited February 15, 2016).
      Your Path to Landscape Architecture. American Society of Landscape Architects (visited February 12, 2016)