How to Become a Landscape Contractor: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a landscape contractor. Research the education and career requirements, licensure and experience required for starting a career as a landscape contractor.

Should I Become a Landscape Contractor?

Landscape contractors are workers who focus on improving existing outdoor spaces by planting flowers and trees, trimming bushes and installing sprinkler systems and hardscapes, such as patios and walkways. Landscaping opportunities may be available in both commercial and residential settings. This occupation can be physically demanding, and work must often be completed during inclement weather.

Career Requirements

Education Required Postsecondary training in horticulture or landscape design may be beneficial, but is not required
Licensure/Certification Licensing laws vary by state and locality; several organizations, including the Professional Landcare Network, offer voluntary certification in the field
Experience Initial on-the-job training may be required
Key Skills Ability to perform manual labor, self-motivation when working alone
Salary $24,290 per year (Median salary from May, 2014 for all landscaping and groundskeeping workers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); (November 2012)

Step 1: Acquire Training

Landscape contractors typically learn their trade by working in the field. In addition to planting, watering, trimming and fertilizing vegetation, landscape contractors learn to use leaf blowers, lawnmowers and chainsaws. Landscape contractors are trained in job safety and aesthetics to ensure the quality of their work is strong.

Step 2: Become Licensed

Many states require a licensing or certification examination to ensure that contractors understand pesticide safety laws. Some states require landscape contractors to be licensed. To obtain a license, contractors must have experience in the field and pass an examination. Contractor license tests may require knowledge of landscape design, job estimation, safety procedures and hardware installation.

Step 3: Obtain Certification

Acquiring a voluntary competency certification may help landscape contractors attract new clients and advance their careers. Professional organizations in the field offer various certification levels based on education and experience. For example, the Professional Landcare Network (LPN) offers several landscaping certifications, including the Landscape Industry Certified Manager, Landscape Industry Certified Technician and Landscape Industry Certified Lawn Care Technician. In order to earn certification, individuals need to have experience in the field and pass an exam. Benefits of obtaining certification include demonstrating a certain level of professionalism and recognition in the industry.

Success Tip:

  • Consider a degree. A degree is not required to become a landscape contractor; however, contractors may benefit from obtaining formal training. A degree in landscape design or horticulture requires study of ecology, plants, soil, fertilizer and pesticides. A bachelor's degree in landscape architecture prepares contractors to design parks, playgrounds and campuses, which may create additional work opportunities and career advancement.

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