Landscape Designer: An Introduction to a Career in Landscape Design

Working as a landscape designer requires little formal education. Learn about the education opportunities, job duties and certification to see if this is the right career for you.

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Landscape design is an interesting career that involves both the science and art of designing natural spaces. This article goes into the educational and experiential requirements to become a landscape designer, including the benefits of obtaining a certification or completing a degree program.

Essential Information

Landscape designers create environmental landscapes using a variety of tools and plant life. Although it is possible to begin a career as a landscape designer without formal education, an associate's or bachelor's degree in a related field can prove advantageous in building a portfolio and securing employment.

Required Education None mandatory; 2- and 4-year degree programs in landscape design or landscape architecture are available
Certification Voluntary through the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD)
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 5% for landscape architects*
Median Salary (2015) $63,810 for landscape architects*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

Landscape designers should be knowledgeable about plants, landscaping procedures and business principles. They are trained in the principles of horticulture and design, and have an eye for portion, balance and texture. They provide conceptual plans and may coordinate the implementation of landscape projects. Landscape designers may work with other landscape service professionals or landscape architects. While many are self-employed, others work for large landscaping companies, urban development firms or golf courses.

Salary and Job Outlook Information

The BLS reported in 2014 that there were 22,500 landscape architects, including landscape designers, working across the country. The median annual salary for these professionals was $63,810 in May 2015.

Skills

Aside from knowledge of plants and the environment, landscape designers, especially those in management positions, need strong communication skills. Some positions may require individuals to be adept at cost estimation or sales. Good drafting ability through either hand-rendering or computers is also a plus.

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Educational Information

While there are no specific educational requirements for landscape designers, associate's and bachelor's degree programs are available. Individuals may pursue programs in either landscape design or landscape development. These programs include environmental courses that cover topics like soil and plants, as well as courses on landscaping techniques, such as construction and irrigation. Some programs incorporate work experience that allows students to work on actual residential or commercial projects.

Prospective landscape designers may also consider degree programs in horticulture. These programs, which include classroom coursework in landscape development and floral design, may also incorporate educational facilities like greenhouses or landscape design studios. Individuals who are interested in progressing to leadership positions may consider horticultural business management programs if available.

Certification Information

The Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) offers a landscape designer certification (www.alpd.org). According to the APLD, individuals who wish to become certified must have a minimum of four years of work experience and be in good professional standing. Certification candidates must submit three design projects for a committee to review. To maintain certification, designers must meet continuing education requirements.

To summarize the information in this article, an associate's degree, bachelor's degree, or APLD certification may help jump-start a career in landscape design. This field involves designing and implementing landscape projects, and is best suited for someone with a creative mind, an interest in plants, and good management skills.

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