Careers in Landscape Architecture: Landscape Designer

Institute for Career Research

Careers in Landscape Architecture: Landscape Designer
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Careers in Landscape Architecture: Landscape Designer

Institute for Career Research

LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE IS THE ART of creating visually interesting and functional designs in the outdoor environment, such as parks, gardens, buildings, and roads. These skilled and creative professionals take responsibility for the health and safety of the public in the work they do, while also preserving the environment. They deal with plants of all kinds from ground covers to trees, but they are particularly adept at designing hardscape features like fountains, retaining walls, pathways, and arbors. Landscape designers are not licensed or regulated and are therefore not involved in projects that affect public health and safety. Their work is similar to that of landscape architects, but it is usually restricted to residential yards and gardens. Landscape designers are generally very knowledgeable about plant materials and their designs are usually focused on softscapes, with hardscape features such as patios, pergolas, and ponds acting as accents in the overall landscape design. Most landscape designers do not have experience in construction oversight, local regulations, site engineering, and building techniques, like landscape architects do. The work of landscape architects is everywhere. It surrounds us with the beauty and usefulness of public parks, zoos, urban plazas, highways, airports, corporate headquarters, waterfronts, and institutional buildings.Stunning examples of large scale landscape architecture include iconic sites such as New York’s Central Park, the Emerald Necklace in Boston, and the planned community of Reston, Virginia. More and more these days, landscape architects are innovators. Consider the 606 (also called the Bloomingdale Trail) in Chicago. It was formerly a 2.7 elevated railroad, but it has been transformed into a greenway, linear park, and path for bicyclists and runners that connects multiple communities. With its unique construction, raised landscape, art installations, and inspiring views, it has become an impressive urban oasis. Landscape designers create drawings of proposed projects, sometimes with pencil and paper, but more often with computer-aided software (CADD). They also meet with clients, estimate project costs, review permits, select and provide plants and other materials, make sure all design elements will conform to codes, and oversee installations. Landscape architects do all this and more. For example, they must create construction documents and specifications that define how land and water elements will be arranged and how these resources will be preserved. Like landscape designers, they use CADD programs, but they also use other technology such as geographic information systems (GIS). Most landscape designers work for landscaping companies or open their own business. They can also work for general contractors, plant nurseries, and garden centers. Landscape architects enjoy greater professional opportunities. They can work for landscaping architecture companies, architectural consulting firms, commercial developers, or they can be self-employed. Many work for the government. Local governments employ landscape architects to design public gardens, recreational areas for parks, gardens outside public buildings, community greenways, and roadside spaces. There are also opportunities at the state and federal level. In fact, the importance of the profession is evidenced by the large number of landscape architects employed by the National Park Service. If you love the outdoors and have a flair for creativity, a career in landscape design or architecture might be what you are looking for. For landscape designers and architects, the environment is a blank canvas. Their job is to transform it into a beautiful and functional outdoor space for people to enjoy. It is rewarding work that offers good earnings, variety, and plenty of opportunities.

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