Job Universe: Landscape Architect

Many landscape architects are self-employed.

  • The job: Landscape architects design outdoor areas so that they are not only functional but also beautiful, and compatible with the natural environment. They plan the location of buildings, roads, and walkways and the arrangement of flowers, shrubs, and trees. Landscape architects work for many types of organizations—from real estate development firms starting new projects to municipalities constructing airports or parks—and they often are involved with the development of a site from its conception.
  • Outlook: Opportunities will vary by year and geographic region, depending on local economic conditions. During a recession, when real estate sales and construction slow down, landscape architects may face greater competition for jobs and sometimes layoffs. But because landscape architects can work on many different types of projects, they may have steadier work than other design professionals when traditional construction slows.
  • Experience: A bachelor's or master's degree in landscape architecture usually is necessary for entry into the profession. There are two undergraduate professional degrees: a bachelor's of landscape architecture and a bachelor's of science in landscape architecture. For those who hold an undergraduate degree in a field other than landscape architecture and intend to become landscape architecture practitioners, the master's of landscape architecture typically takes three years of full-time study. Those who hold undergraduate degrees in landscape architecture can earn their M.L.A. in two years. As of January 2008, 49 states required landscape architects to be licensed.
  • The not-so-good: Many landscape architects are self-employed. Self-discipline, business acumen, and good marketing skills are important qualities for those who choose to open their own business. Even with these qualities, however, some may struggle while building a client base.
  • Pay: In May 2006, median annual earnings for landscape architects were $55,140. The middle 50 percent earned between $42,720 and $73,240.

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This information is from the Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.