How to Become a Landscaper: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Research the requirements to become a landscaper. Learn about the job description and/or duties, and read the step-by-step process to start a career in landscaping.

Do I Want to Be a Landscaper?

Landscapers create and maintain exterior environments for everything from homes and businesses to parks and government buildings. Using knowledge of horticulture, math, science and landscaping, landscapers make exteriors more attractive and inviting.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), landscapers have a higher rate of injury and illness than the average worker. They often work outside in inclement weather, work with dangerous power tools and come in contact with chemicals and pesticides.

Job Requirements

A formal education is not required for landscapers, but select employers might seek applicants who have completed postsecondary programs or courses in the field. Many states require licensing for those who use pesticides, and optional certifications are available through various industry agencies. The following table outlines the basic requirements for becoming a landscaper:

Common Requirements
Degree Level A degree is not required, but formal education may be required by some employers**
Degree Field Landscaping technology*
Licensure and Certification Those who use pesticides may need state licensing**; certification is optional*
Experience Some work-related experience is helpful*
Key Skills Communication skills, critical thinking, management of personnel resources, time management, and operation monitoring*
Computer Skills Microsoft Office, Excel, Word and Outlook software, as well as facilities management software*

Sources: *O*Net Online and **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Step 1: Earn a Degree or Certificate

Many public colleges offer degree and certificate programs in landscape technology, also known as ornamental horticulture. Most of the college programs run two years, and graduates earn an associate's degree. In addition to learning the science and mathematics of landscaping, students learn how to design landscape plans, maintain landscapes and select plants. Typical coursework includes horticulture, landscape design, chemistry and business.

Certificate programs are also available and can be completed in one year or less. These programs offer an alternative to those seeking a shorter-term program or those who wish to enhance their current knowledge and skills.

Step 2: Explore Career Options

With a degree in landscape technology, students have multiple career opportunities. In addition to employment as a landscaper, groundskeeper or contractor, graduates may find work as a nursery manager, buildings and grounds supervisor, golf course superintendent or horticulture specialist. Landscape technology degree holders also have the necessary background to pursue bachelor's degrees and careers in landscape design.

Step 3: Gain Work Experience

As part of most certificate and degree programs, students are required to take part in internships or fieldwork to prepare them for employment. With completion of a landscape technology program, most students are qualified for entry-level positions in which they plant and maintain vegetation, care for mature lawns and plants, operate maintenance equipment and prune.

Step 4: Consider Pursuing Certification

The Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) offers a host of certification programs, including the Landscape Industry Certified Technician and the Landscape Industry Certified Manager. These certifications, along with others, require passing an exam. Certification from PLANET can help landscapers distinguish themselves from competitors. The Landscape Contractors Association (LCA) offers training programs to help candidates prepare for the exam.

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