How to Become Landscape Architect (Detailed Review)

How to Become Landscape Architect (Detailed Review)

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Are you thinking of advancing your career into the architectural realm but have no idea what it takes to become a landscape architect? If so, this article provides detailed information on how to become a landscape architect.

Let’s get started!

What Is a Landscape Architect?

The term “landscape architecture” is a word that has remained popular since its introduction by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in 1863 following the establishment of Central Park in New York City.

However, what does the title stand for? Landscape architects are professionals who plan, design, and oversee the building of diverse outdoor environments.

The Work of a Landscape Architect

The skill and expertise of landscape architects are evident in the beauty and usefulness of our parks, natural areas, gardens, urban plazas, roadways, neighborhoods, and communities.

Different designs by architects

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Landscape architects create golf courses and retail malls that are appealing architectural designs and other public places. Landscape architects may also plan the landscaping of homes and gardens for private clientele.

In addition to designing protected areas like wetlands, landscape architects promote the environment by participating in historical restoration projects.

Landscape architects integrate science and art, vision, and intelligence to understand how the natural environment works and make decisions about the increasingly complex relationships between man-made and natural surroundings.

Landscape Architecture Process

Landscape architect works well with their customer to bring their vision for their outdoor setting to life. During these first encounters with the client, a landscape architect acquires a thorough grasp of the desired purpose and aesthetic of the location.

Most clients will have a budget, which the architect should consider while designing. However, a landscape architect can turn any project into something amazing, no matter how big or small. They use computer-aided design software to visualize their concepts and monitor the project’s progress to ensure that it follows the approved, final designs.

Landscape architects typically employ Geographic Information Systems (GIS), which offer GPS coordinates for various geographic features. Computer-aided design software for architectural design work facilitates the creation of different habitats by providing landscape architects with ideas on where to start their planning and how to foresee the effects of the environment in the future.

Once the drawings are made, a landscape architect may decide to build a model of the location. The models include trees, rivers, bridges, and buildings. Thanks to the production of these models, clients can view their area more clearly, when it has been finished. A landscape architect can make last-minute design changes before construction begins.

They stay away from physically taxing work since contractors and staff handle it. However, they keep an eye on the project to ensure everything is going according to plan.

Landscape architectures ensure they develop the concepts for the outside space and lay up designs so that people can read and understand them. They examine intricate environmental assessments and use the knowledge they gain in designing or planning.

An architect drawing a design model

Image credits: bsu

Regarding issues with sustainability and environmental protection, landscape architects also provide recommendations. They also make proposals, present them to clients, and generate reports and contracts. They must also communicate with other architects, surveyors, project managers, biologists, foresters, and other specialists.

Objectives of Landscape Architects

Landscape architects work to enhance a location’s natural beauty and to benefit the environment. For instance, they might plan to restore natural places damaged by people or nature, such as wetlands, streams, and mining zones.

They might also design “green roofs” or rooftop gardens, which can cool down buildings, gather runoff, absorb air pollutants, and provide stunning views.

How to Become a Landscape Architect

These are the steps to take if you want to become a landscape architect:

1. Consider the Career Responsibilities and Training of Landscape Architects

The amount of education required to become a landscape architect is one of the first things to consider.

Landscape architectural education uses geography, science, horticulture, arithmetic, engineering, and art to plan and conceptualize public and outdoor spaces, such as residential developments, public parks, golf courses, and college campuses.

Prospective landscape architects must hold a bachelor’s degree to work in the field, and almost all states additionally demand a license.

2. Complete the Undergraduate Degree Program

A bachelor’s degree in Landscape is often necessary for entry into the profession of landscape architecture. The undergraduate landscape architect degrees offered to landscape architects are the Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) and the Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture (BSLA).

Usually, it takes four to five years to finish one of these courses. The Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB) approves these programs.

Participants in the three-year Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) program must hold an undergraduate degree in a field other than landscape architecture. The subjects addressed in the courses include surveying, landscape design and construction, landscape ecology, site design, and urban and regional planning.

Other beneficial courses include geology, plant and soil science, history of landscape architecture, professional practice, and general management.

Students in a landscape architectural class

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The design studio must be a key component of any program. When possible, real-world tasks are offered to students, providing them with priceless hands-on experience. Students develop proficiency in model creation, computer-aided design and drawing (CADD), and other design software while working on these projects.

3. Engage in an Internship

To become a licensed landscape architect, you must have internship experience. You can either wait until you have completed your studies or work as a trainee or intern landscape architect while still in school.

Throughout the internship, a landscape architect intern works under the supervision of a licensed landscape architect to enhance their technical skills. You will also gain an understanding of the standard chores such as keeping a budget, locating customers, and setting reasonable pricing when working with a landscape architecture firm. Each intern landscape architect gets exposure to various tasks, depending on the size and type of the firm.

You can go through the list of 32 top architecture firms in the world in 2023 and get yourself an internship program from either of these.

4. Obtain a Professional License

All states require landscape architects to be licensed before practicing except Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maine. Candidates become qualified for licensing if they complete the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards-sponsored Landscape Architect Registration Examination (LARE).

While state-specific criteria vary, candidates who wish to take the exam must possess a degree from an accredited university as well as a few years of work experience under the guidance of a licensed landscape architect.

Additionally, several jurisdictions offer different paths for individuals without a recognized landscape architecture degree to qualify for the LARE, which frequently calls for more work experience. Some states offer registration tests in addition to the LARE that test candidates’ knowledge of subjects particular to their states, like earthquakes in California or hurricanes in Florida.

Exams tailored to a state could also include its laws, environmental regulations, flora, soils, climate, and other unique characteristics. The varying licensing requirements sometimes make it difficult for landscape architects to transfer their registration from one state to another.

The qualification to serve as a Landscape architect thus calls for completion of an approved program, passing the LARE, and spending years as an intern under the guidance of a certified landscape architect. The Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards may also certify a landscape architect if they meet the requirements, which may be useful when seeking a license in another state.

5. Advance Your Career

Universities and colleges award Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) degrees. If you are pursuing your second professional degree in landscape architecture, some programs allow you to complete electives of your choice to specialize. Some are designed for those with academic training in a different field. One can engage in landscaping courses online for landscape professionals.

Architecture class

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The American Society of Landscape Architects provides information on the options. You could also consider earning your CLARB certification. From the perspective of clients and companies, certification enhances your professional legitimacy. It also improves your chances of landing a job.

6. Join a Trade Association

To network and position oneself as an expert in your area, consider joining one of the well-known professional organizations for landscape architects.

These firms are:

a) The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA)

The organization representing landscape architecture in the United States is the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), which is dedicated to education, knowledge growth, and strengthening the skill set of landscape architects.

The organization offers continuing education programs to help landscape architects fulfill their licensing requirements.

b) The Council of Landscape Architecture Educators

We also have The Council of Landscape Architecture Educators. This group helps landscape architecture academics, professionals, and students have the chance to interact in person through CELA’s annual conferences, publications, and regional get-togethers.

How much Does a Landscape Architect Make on Average?

In the US, a landscape architect typically earns $62,379 per year or $29.99 per hour.

The landscape architects in the bottom 10% of that group make around $43,000 annually, while those in the top 10% make $90,000. The demand for landscape architects is anticipated to remain stable or decrease between 2020 and 2030.

Essential Qualities of Landscape Architects

A professional landscape architect should have the skills and training to generate creative solutions that include;

a) Analytical Skills

Landscape architects must understand the content of designs. For instance, landscape architects must understand how a structure interacts with its environment while designing drainage systems.

b) Communication Skills

Landscape architects communicate orally and in writing with clients, other architects, and employees who help with drawing preparation. Having effective communication is essential to achieving the project’s objective.

c) Originality

Landscape architects entirely design gardens, parks, and other outdoor places.

They should have designs that are both visually pleasing and functional.

d) Ability to Resolve Problems

Landscape architects must be prepared to handle unforeseen issues when constructing outside spaces.

These solutions typically include looking at issues from several perspectives and finding the best solutions.

e) Technical Knowledge

Landscape architects use computer-aided design and drawing (CADD) software to represent their work.

Landscape Architecture students

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Some use geographic information systems for their ideas (GIS).

f) Imagination techniques

Landscape architects must picture how a finished outdoor space will look overall.

Frequently Asked Questions

a) How many hours a day do landscape architects work?

A typical full-time schedule for landscape architects is 40 hours per week. However, depending on who hires them, they might not work the typical Monday–Friday schedule.

To fulfill particular projects or design deadlines, they might work through the night or on the weekends.

b) Where do landscape architects work?

Landscape architects typically do the planning of outdoor spaces inside offices. Landscape architects spend the remainder of their working hours on job sites.

Featured image credits:

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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