From creating to maintaining, there are a few different jobs that you can consider if you are interested in a career in commercial landscaping. Degree and licensing requirements vary based on responsibility and job role.
Commercial landscaping offers a wide range of jobs for those who enjoy working in outdoor spaces. The jobs vary from professional positions, such as landscape architect and landscape designer, to skilled labor in the form of landscaping workers and tree trimmers. Equally varied are the educational requirements for these jobs, from a high-school diploma or less, to a master's degree.
|Landscape Architect||Landscape Designer||Landscaping and Groundskeeping||Tree Trimmers|
|Education Requirements||Bachelor's or master's degree||High school diploma||On-the-job training||No formal education|
|Other Requirements||State license and work experience requirements||Artistic inclination and voluntary certifications available||State license to apply pesticides||Bachelor's degree required if treating trees for disease|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||5%*||None reported||6%*||6%*|
|Median Salary||$63,810 (2015)*||$44,073 (2016)**||$25,030 (2015)*||$33,500 (2015)*|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; ** PayScale.com
Commercial landscape architects create landscape designs for large outdoor spaces. They incorporate aesthetics, topology, environmental issues and local regulations to create the plans for outside areas, such as corporate and industrial facilities, airports and recreational spaces.
Landscape architects may work for architectural and contracting firms, which provide a range of services in the building and construction industry. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2015 the median annual salary for landscape architects was $63,810 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported that job openings were expected to grow by 5% from 2014 to 2024.
Aspiring landscape architects may earn a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture or Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture to work in the field. College graduates who have degrees in other fields may complete a master of landscape architecture degree program. Coursework in these programs may explore site planning, surveying and soil science. Students are also required to complete landscape design courses in which they may plan and present site models.
Nearly every state requires architects to be licensed, which typically includes passing the Landscape Architect Registration Examination. Most states also include work experience requirements. The BLS notes that although some states allow applicants who don't hold a landscape architecture professional degree to become landscape architects, these states typically require applicants to have additional work experience. Prospective candidates may consult their respective state boards for more information.
Commercial landscape designers plan the arrangement and choice of ornamental plants, shrubs and trees for such areas as residential developments, commercial spaces and individual residences. They choose the right plants for the soil that will also meet their customer's needs.
Landscape designers work for lawn and garden services, construction companies, greenhouses and nurseries. Many designers are self-employed and perform contract work for businesses and residential customers. PayScale.com notes that as of October 2016, landscape designers earn a median annual salary of $44,073.
A landscape designer must have an artistic inclination and a solid knowledge of plants used in landscaping. They generally need at least a high-school diploma, and experience or education in horticulture and design. Many colleges with plant-science programs offer a specialization in landscape design, and some universities also offer master's degrees in the field. Aspiring landscape designers may also consider earning voluntary certifications offered by professional associations, such as the Association of Professional Landscape Designers.
Landscaping and Groundskeeping Worker
Landscaping and groundskeepers install and maintain commercial landscapes. They may lay sod, plant trees and other plants, prune and trim trees and shrubs, apply pesticides and herbicides, build walkways and mow grass. With experience, they can become landscaping supervisors and managers.
Landscaping workers are hired by commercial property management companies, resorts, schools, hospitals, parks, golf courses and construction companies. Experienced workers may become crew supervisors and project managers for landscape work. The May 2014 BLS salary report shows that the median annual salary for grounds maintenance workers was $25,030. The BLS projected job opportunities for grounds maintenance workers to grow by 6% from 2014-2024.
Landscapers are usually trained in specific work tasks and procedures on-the-job. Those looking to enter the field, may consider enrolling in community college courses through professional landscaping associations. They may also receive training to use power equipment. Those using pesticides generally need to complete a state exam in order to be licensed.
Tree trimmers or pruners maintain the look and health of tress that are part of landscaping. Using truck-mounted lifts and power tools, these professionals cut away dead branches or entire trees. They may also use hand pruners and shears to trim and shape ornamental trees and shrubs. Some tree trimmers work with tree health, diagnosing and treating diseases or applying preventive measures to keep them healthy.
Tree trimmers generally work for servicing companies that remove trees and excess branches. BLS noted that the number of jobs in this field was projected to increase between 6% from 2014 and 2024. Median wages for tree trimmers were $33,500 as of May 2015.
No formal education is required for most tree trimmers, though advancement in the field is often improved by taking horticulture courses at local colleges. Tree trimmers may also learn their skills on-the-job. They must have the physical strength to climb trees and cut branches, and they may also be required to operate heavy equipment and power tools.
Tree trimmers treating trees for disease may need to earn a bachelor's degree in arboriculture, horticulture or a related field. Courses may include botany, microbiology and soil science. Students may also take lab courses in which they identify tree diseases and prescribe the best treatment.
Landscape designers and landscape architects work with designing and arranging outdoor spaces, although designers work more closely with plants and final touches whereas architects work with the science, regulations and design of the space. Groundskeepers and tree trimmers handle the maintenance side of commercial landscaping: groundskeepers focus on the entire area, including plants and soil but tree trimmers focus specifically on trees and shrubs. Only landscape architects require a formal degree program.