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What does a Landscape Architect do?

When you think about architects, you probably think about the people who design homes and skyscrapers, but what about the parks, subdivisions and campuses? That's where landscape architects take over. They design the placement of walking paths, maintain public gardens and restore damaged ecosystems. They work with other city planners, environmental scientists and engineers in order to responsibly create lasting beauty in our surroundings.

Training to be a landscape architect

People like their surroundings to look good, but it is just as important that the job is done correctly and according to local safety and health codes. Most states require landscape architects to be licensed. You will typically need a degree in landscape architecture, a passing score on the Landscape Architect Registration Exam (LARE) and some work experience. BLA and BSLA programs at accredited schools can prepare you for this exam administered by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards. This professional organization reports that 49 U.S. states, two Canadian provinces and the territory of Puerto Rico all require passing scores.

The American Society of Landscape Architects suggests that a licensed professional needs to possess:
  • Sensitivity to landscape quality
  • Understanding of the arts and a humanistic approach to design
  • Ability to analyze problems in terms of design and physical form
  • Technical competence to translate a design into a built work
  • Skills in all aspects of professional practice including management and professional ethics
Landscape architects need to have a knack for both the arts and sciences. They balance the complex relationships between manufactured and natural settings with a creative eye and a scientific mind. You need professional education to gain the skills and knowledge of this career, such as a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) or a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture (BSLA). Coursework could include art, natural and social sciences, design, engineering, environmental issues and resource management.

Landscape achitect careers

Newly licensed professionals face stiff competition for positions at larger firms. Fortunately, large firms are not the only option. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 21% of all landscape architects are self employed. Top employing industries include Architecture and Engineering, Buildings and Grounds, and Local and State Government.

While some landscape architects are generalists, working on many different types of projects. Others will specialize in an area such as eco-restoration, highway beautification, or campus grounds. Most of their time is spent in an office drafting and researching plans, preparing cost analyses or creating models. They visit sites to plan and oversee construction efforts.

If you enjoy a blend of science and expression, the outdoors and ecology, then landscape architecture could be the route for you.

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