Landscape Architect: Career Profile and Educational Requirements
Landscape architects use their knowledge of horticulture, design and biological science to create and maintain outdoor environmental spaces. This is a growing career, but those interested must meet several educational and licensure requirements before gaining employment.
Career Information for Landscape Architects
Landscape architects plan and design public and private land projects, considering cost and their clients' needs. They also consider the relationship of different environmental factors, such as plants or animals, with the man-made structures around them. Some landscape architects work as generalists while others specialize in a specific area, such as industrial sites or playgrounds. They may also work with engineers and construction workers on projects.
Many landscape architects are self-employed in a private practice. Others work for state and federal governments or in education. There are some large architectural firms that employ landscape architects, but these positions are often highly competitive.
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of landscape architects is expected to increase by 16% from 2010-2020 (www.bls.gov). This projected growth is due to the need for repairs to existing structures and the demand for environmentally sustainable projects.
The BLS also reported that the median annual wage for a landscape architect was $64,180 as of May 2012. The bottom ten percent of architects earned $38,450 per year, while the top ten percent earned $101,850 per year.
A bachelor's degree in landscape architecture is needed for most entry-level positions. These programs, often accredited by the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB), can last five years and include extensive studio time, in which students work on designs and proposals.
Common course topics include the history and theory of landscape architecture, landscape planning and architectural technology. Students also complete coursework in areas outside of landscape architecture, including topics in horticulture, urban planning and professional practice.
Individuals may also consider a Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) program, most of which are also accredited by the LAAB. These programs can take two or three years to complete, depending on whether an individual has a prior degree in the field. MLA programs may offer program concentrations or allow students to complete either a thesis or professional project.
Most states require landscape architects to be licensed. To become licensed, individuals must graduate from an accredited program, gain work experience and pass the Landscape Architect Registration Examination (LARE). According to the BLS, some states require candidates to pass a state exam in addition to the LARE, or they may require that architects complete continuing education requirements to maintain their licensure.
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