Landscape Architect Vs. Civil Engineer: What's the Difference?

Both landscape architects and civil engineers make designs and may even work together on certain projects; however, the type of work they do varies greatly.

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Are you interested in finding out the difference between landscape architects and civil engineers? Here we explain how these two occupations differ by discussing information about job duties, education requirements, and salary information.

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What's the Difference Between Landscape Architects and Civil Engineers?

Although landscape architects and civil engineers may overlap on certain projects, their specific job duties are very different. Landscape architects' primary responsibilities include:

  • Designing all kinds of outdoor spaces, like parks and home yards
  • Analyzing the environmental impact of projects
  • Evaluating the usability of outdoor areas, such as considering how an area blends with the natural environment

Landscape architects may work with civil engineers and others to come up with the best possible layout for their landscape designs and to ensure all project requirements are met.

On the other hand, civil engineers may work with landscape architects for some projects, but civil engineers work on a much wider range of projects beyond the landscape, including:

  • Designing, building, and managing major transportation projects
  • Working with local, state, and federal agencies to obtain permits
  • Ensuring projects meet all regulations

Landscape Architect Job Duties

Landscape architects design landscapes for things such as:

  • Residential areas
  • Public parks and playgrounds
  • Golf courses and gardens
  • College campuses

They design these areas to be both beautiful and functional and to fit within the natural landscape. Landscape architects must devise a plan for the site they are working with, taking into consideration the reason for the project as well as available funds.

They also must prepare an initial design using computer-aided drafting and design (CADD) or geographic information systems (GIS) software. CADD is typically used for small projects, while GIS is used for much larger projects. Additionally, landscape architects might need to take into account local, state or federal regulations.

Civil Engineer Job Duties

Civil engineers plan, design and manage projects such as buildings, bridges, dams, roadways and water-supply systems. They also:

  • Test the functionality and integrity of building materials
  • Analyze survey reports
  • Utilize design software to plan projects
  • Estimate project costs by considering the material, equipment, and labor costs associated with the project

Civil engineers may work in the public or private sector in various positions, including design, construction, research, and teaching.

Landscape Architect Education Requirements

Landscape architects must hold no less than a bachelor's degree. Sometimes a landscape architecture program can take five years to complete. The two main degree programs are a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) and a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture (BSLA). Courses in these programs include surveying, landscape design and construction, plant and soil science, site design and geology.

A Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) degree is also an option and is designed for students with an undergraduate degree in another field. The MLA will typically take about three years to complete.

Additionally, 47 out of 50 states require landscape architects to be licensed. Licensure requires passing an exam administered by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards. Landscape architects might also need to pass a state exam.

Civil Engineer Education Requirements

Civil engineers need at least a bachelor's degree in civil engineering or a related area; however, an advanced degree may be required for positions in management or research. Civil engineering has many specialties, so courses in these programs will vary considerably. Specialties include structural, water resources, construction, and transportation engineering. Civil engineers typically don't need to be licensed unless they plan on offering their services directly to the public.

Landscape Architect Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, landscape architects earned a median salary of $63,810 in 2015. It was predicted that landscape architects can expect a 5% growth in employment between 2014 and 2024. Growth will occur as a result of new construction projects as well as restoration of existing structures.

Civil Engineer Employment and Salary Information

The BLS reported that civil engineers earned a median salary of $82,220 in 2015. Employment growth was predicted to increase by 8% between 2014 and 2024. This growth can be attributed to general population growth as well as the need for infrastructure improvement nationwide.

Although landscape architects and civil engineers have different job duties and educational requirements, occasionally professionals in these fields may work together.

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