Should I Become a Certified Landscape Architect?
Landscape architects design outdoor spaces for both functionality and aesthetics while remaining conscious of the natural environment and surroundings. They also help to restore and preserve historic spaces in an outdoor environment.
The majority of landscape architects work full-time, though longer hours are common when project deadlines approach. Most of an architect's time is spent in an office setting as they design, and some additional time is spent at job sites. Certified landscape architects have a combination of experience and education in landscape architecture, and have passed a licensure examination. Licensure is sponsored by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB), which also offers certification.
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree|
|Degree Field||Landscape architecture|
|Licensure||State licensure exams are based on the Landscape Architect Registration Examination (LARE). This examination is sponsored by the CLARB, and is required in all 50 states|
|Experience||1-4 years of experience as an apprentice is generally required before taking the licensure exam|
|Key Skills||Analytical skills, creativity, communication skills, visualization skills, Microsoft Excel, computer aided design (CAD) software, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, modeling building skills|
|Salary (2014)||The median income for all landscape architects was $64,570 in 2014|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
In most cases, a bachelor's degree will be necessary to begin working in the field. Degree possibilities include a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture or a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture. The Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB) of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) accredits degree programs in the United States. More than 40 schools offer accredited undergraduate programs as of July 2012. Typical coursework will include surveying, urban planning, land-use analysis, and facilities design.
- Complete an internship. Completing an internship while still working toward a bachelor's degree can be a valuable experience for an aspiring landscape architect. Practical experience will help to prepare students for apprenticeship requirements. An internship is also helpful for making networking connections in the field.
Step 2: Gain Experience
After earning a bachelor's degree, aspiring landscape architects should gain experience through an apprenticeship. Up to four years of experience will be necessary to gain licensure. As an apprentice, landscapers will work under the guidance and supervision of a licensed landscape architect. An apprentice's duties may include preparing sketches and drawings, site planning, landscape design, and preparation of landscape specifications. During this time, apprentices will also learn valuable skills needed to win clients and work with them.
- Become familiar with commonly use computer programs. Many landscape architects use computer aided design software and other imaging software. It is important to build on the skills learned while acquiring a bachelor's degree by getting hands-on experience using computer programs and software.
Step 3: Become Licensed
As of July 2012, all 50 states require landscape architects to be licensed. The Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB) sponsors the Landscape Architect Registration Examination (LARE). Candidates must first meet eligibility requirements, including education. The exam includes three multiple-choice sections and two graphic response sections. As of 2012, 13 states also require passing an additional state exam.
Step 4: Obtain Voluntary Certification
The CLARB also offers certification, which establishes an additional level of professionalism. Certification also provides perks, such as inclusion in a searchable CLARB database, potential publication in CLARB materials, and a directory of employers and customers.