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Landscape Design Career Options and Employment Outlook

Landscape designers require little to no formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and licensing to see if this is the right career for you.

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Landscape designers have a few options when it comes to deciding on their work environment. They can work as consultants, employees, or self-employed designers for private and governmental entities. Landscape designers can choose to complete a degree program, which will likely help them get better positions, and acquiring registration as a landscape architect may be necessary.

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Essential Information

Landscape designers restore, improve and beautify outdoor areas surrounding homes, businesses and city streets. They take into account the aesthetic and functional aspects of small-scale landscaping projects, like gardens and lawns, and they're commonly employed by landscaping firms and by municipalities.

Career Landscape Designer
Required Education None mandatory but an associate's or bachelor's degree recommended for job advancement
Other Requirements Passing the Landscape Architect Registration Exam (required by most states for landscape architects)
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 5% (for all landscape architects)
Median Salary (2015)** $42,831

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Payscale.com

Career Options in Landscape Design

Landscape designers generally earn an associate's or a bachelor's degree in landscape design, horticulture or a related field. Typically, they must complete an internship or apprenticeship to gain the necessary skills and experience to enter the field. They build careers working independently, with large firms or for government agencies.

Residential Landscape Design

Residential landscape designers work independently with owners of private properties or for an established residential landscaping firm. Those who are self-employed own their own business or work as consultants on a contract basis. They meet with clients at their properties, manage all client accounts and hire additional construction crew if needed.

Nurseries and garden centers often hire landscape designers to provide consulting services to their customers. Their duties include answering customers' questions, offering advice on the types of plants and soils to use, sketching landscape designs and conducting site visits to make recommendations.

Commercial Landscape Design

Commercial landscape designers improve the exterior spaces surrounding businesses, parks, shopping malls and other public spaces. They typically work as full-time employees or consultants for architectural, engineering and environmental firms. Others work for development or construction companies helping regional planners draft the layout of new buildings and green spaces in urban areas.

Landscape Design for Government Agencies

Landscape designers are employed by local and state government agencies to improve city parks, streets and highways. They help plan and build new parks and recreational areas in cities, around government buildings and in other public lands, like national parks and forests. Landscape designers also work for the government to help preserve and restore historic sites. Another area of employment is in environmental remediation, where they might work to control storm water runoff and prevent erosion.

Employment Outlook

Job prospects for landscape designers are good and tend to coincide with the development of new construction projects and the restoration of existing buildings, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). The continued desire for beautiful and well-maintained outdoor areas will provide landscape designers with ample job opportunities. In addition, the growing public interest in environmental issues will boost employment of landscape designers. However, periods of economic recession reduce real estate sales and new construction, which can dampen employment of landscape designers and heighten job competition.

Landscape designers seeking career advancement may acquire bachelor's or master's degrees in landscape architecture from an accredited school and take the Landscape Architect Registration Exam to become a licensed landscape architect. Landscape architects are qualified to work on larger projects of greater technical complexity, such as the design of green infrastructures.

Landscape designers balance the aesthetic beauty, environmental characteristics, function, and context of a space to create a design that is useful and visually pleasing for the residential area, park, private garden, or business area they are working with. A landscape designer can become registered as a landscape architect once they compete an accredited degree program and pass the Landscape Architect Registration Exam, giving them a chance to work on larger and more challenging projects.

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