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Landscape Architect

What is this job like?

Parks. Playgrounds. Colleges. Soccer fields. Shopping centers. Backyards. What do these places have in common?

They all look better with good landscaping.

Landscape architects make outdoor places more beautiful and useful. They decide where to put flowers, trees, walkways, and other landscape details. They keep sports fields in good playing condition. They work with architects, surveyors, and engineers to find the best place to put roads and buildings. They work with environmental scientists to find the best way to conserve or restore natural resources.

Landscape architects must first consider the reason for a project. They analyze the nature around the place where they are working. They see where sunlight falls at different times of the day and year. They think about the weather, the kind of soil, the hills, the water, and the plants that are at the work location.

Then, landscape architects draw what they want the landscape to look like. Most landscape architects draw their plans using computers and Computer-Aided Design (CAD) systems. Landscape architects also use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to say exactly where plants and other things should be.

Once the design is complete, landscape architects write reports. They also make sketches, models, and photographs to explain their ideas. Many architects use video simulation to help clients see what the land will look like when the plans are finished. They also need to estimate how much their ideas will cost. Then, they have to get clients to agree with their ideas.

Next, landscape architects draw up a list of needed materials. Then, they tell other workers how to do the planting and construction shown in the design.

Some landscape architects work on all kinds of projects. Others focus on one kind of outdoor place. For example, they might focus on backyards, on parks, or on the land around highways.

More landscape architects work on projects to help the environment or to fix historic places.

Landscape architects spend a lot of time in offices. They also work outside to see the places they are designing and to watch the work being done.

Landscape architects usually work regular hours. They may work longer sometimes to meet a deadline.


How do you get ready?

Most of these workers have a college degree in landscape architecture or a related subject.

Most States require landscape architects to be licensed or registered. That means that they have to pass a test.

People who like this job almost always love nature. They like working with their hands and being creative and artistic.

Landscape architects need good communication skills. They have to explain their ideas to other people and talk to groups. It also helps to be a good writer and good at using a computer.

Many landscape architects run their own businesses. To make a business work, they need to be self-disciplined. Marketing skills are important for the self-employed.

Students can start getting ready for this job by taking biology classes to learn about plants. Art classes can spur creativity and teach drawing. Students should also take math to learn how to take good measurements. Taking English classes to learn how to write clearly and to talk to groups is helpful.

How many jobs are there?

There were about 26,700 landscape architects in 2008. About 1 in 5 had their own business.

Most landscape architects work in cities or in suburbs.What about the future?

Jobs for landscape architects are expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2018. A growing population means more people will need more houses, more buildings, and more landscaping.

Also, more people want beautiful outdoor spaces and better backyards. People also want a cleaner environment. Landscape architects will be needed to make places more beautiful and cleaner.

There will probably be many job openings, but there will be competition for the best jobs.


How much does this job pay?

In May 2008, average yearly wages for landscape architects were $64,000.

Are there other jobs like this?

Architects

Civil engineers

Environmental scientists

Geoscientists

Urban planners

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