Landscape architects are highly trained professionals who create functional, innovative and aesthetically beautiful landscapes and infrastructures, and aspiring landscape architects often wonder what kind of bachelor’s degree they should look for at a school. There are a couple of different educational options available for potential landscape architects, and the programs they need depends on the degree level they’ve already obtained as well as their career goals. Here are some possible degree options candidates may choose to pursue.
Kind of Degree Required to Become an Architect
To become a landscape architect, a candidate must have at least a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture. The student can choose from one of two bachelor’s degree programs: a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture (BSLA) or a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA). Each of these programs takes between 4 to 5 years to complete.
Course topics include landscape ecology, landscape design and construction, landscape architecture, plant and soil science, site design, and history of landscape architecture. Students must also complete an internship working with a professional landscape architect or a landscape architecture firm. The internship helps students understand different aspects of a landscape architecture business, including how to generate fees, recruit clients, communicate with clients and work within a budget.
A major part of any landscape architect program is a design studio, which provides students with a project that offers them hands-on training using computer-aided software and similar design software. Aspiring landscape architects who already possess a bachelor’s degree in another field can bypass the landscape architecture bachelor’s degree and pursue a Master of Landscape Architecture degree, which takes about 3 years to complete. The Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board should accredit landscape architect programs.
Landscape architects are required to be licensed in all the states before they can work as landscape architects. Although licensing requirements vary from state to state, most require the candidate to pass the Landscape Architecture Examination, which is administered by the Council of Landscape of Architectural Registration Boards.
Eligibility to take the exam generally requires completion of a bachelor’s degree program and a few years of experience working under the supervision of a licensed landscape architect. Some states also require their landscape architects to pass state-specific registration exams on certain state-related issues, such as hurricanes for Florida or earthquakes for California.
Other state-required exams may be on soils, environmental architects, laws, climate or plants. In some states, individuals who do not have a landscape architect degree may still take the LARE exam if they have a specific number of years of working experience. Individuals working as landscape architects who have not yet taken the exam are referred to as intern landscape architects until they’ve obtained licensure.
What Landscape Architects Do
Landscape architects work in both rural and urban landscapes using natural and man-made environments. They must possess various skills and knowledge in the areas of management, technical, design, problem solving and ecology. They may work independently or hold a position working for the community installing sustainable infrastructures, designing wildlife habitats and generating solutions for the natural environment.
They meet with engineers, building architects and other clients to collaborate on what needs to be done and what it takes to meet their needs. Using computer-aided design software, they prepare graphic presentations of the plans. They must also have knowledge of land conditions, cost estimates and overall specifications.
In addition to using software, landscape architects also use Geographic Information Systems, which provide them with GPS coordinates of various geographical areas. Landscape architects design a variety of things including playgrounds, public parks, school campuses, residential areas, gardens and other public spaces.
Career Outlook for Landscape Architects
Landscape architects are expected to see job growth of four percent between 2018 and 2028 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). A few different things are putting landscape architects in demand. The need for communities to develop existing and new landscapes for residential, industrial and commercial projects and buildings is one factor. Landscape architects are also needed to design green roofs to help reduce water and air pollution as well as decrease the cost of cooling and heating buildings.
As of May 2018, landscape architect annual wages ranged from $40,710 to $113,340, and the average annual wage was $73,160. The level of degree and the landscape architect’s work experience can both affect the wage potential. Other factors that can affect wage potential are employer and geographic location. Landscape architects earn the highest wages in the states of District of Columbia, California, Connecticut, Virginia and New York.
Individuals looking for careers where they can create beauty and feel a sense of pride often choose landscape architecture as a career choice. In addition to being an exciting career, it’s also one that pays well. Another bonus is that the candidate can choose a specific type of bachelor’s degree to meet his or her career choice.