Be a Landscape Design Project Manager: Career Roadmap

Mar 05, 2020

Learn how to become a landscape design project manager. Research the job description, education, and licensing requirements and find out how to start a career in landscape design project management, also known as landscape architecture.

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  • 0:02 Landscape Design…
  • 1:08 Get a Degree
  • 1:56 Develop Work Experience
  • 2:40 Get Licensed
  • 4:04 Continue Education
  • 4:31 Earn Promotion

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Landscape Design Project Manager

Landscape design project managers, also known as landscape architects, transform outdoor sites into beautiful and functional areas. Responsibilities at the managerial level tend to include creating original design proposals, ensuring customer satisfaction, and overseeing budgets, as well as hiring and training employees. These professionals often split their time between designing projects in offices and working outside at job sites. Some work for larger firms, while many are self-employed.

Landscape design project managers should have strong critical thinking skills, analytical skills, visualization skills, the ability to be creative and familiarity with technology related to the industry, such as computer-aided design software and global positioning devices. In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that landscape architects earned a median annual pay of $68,230, which is higher than average.

Degree Level Bachelor's degree required for entry-level work
Degree Field Landscape architecture
Licensure and Certification Licensure required in the United States, British Columbia, Ontario and Puerto Rico; optional professional certification is available
Experience 1-4 years of work experience typically required for licensure
Key Skills Communication, critical-thinking, analytical and visualization skills, as well as the ability to be creative; familiarity with related technology, such as computer-aided design (CAD) and photo imaging software; ability to draw and use field-specific tools, like global positioning system (GPS) devices; may work more than 50 hours per week, including weekends
Salary $68,230 (median annual wage for landscape architects, May 2018)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards, O*Net OnLine

Get a Degree

The first step to becoming a landscape architect is to get a degree from an accredited program. The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) offers accreditation for professional bachelor's and master's degree landscape design programs, such as the Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA), Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture (BSLA) and Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA). Through these programs, students learn to design visually stunning and functional spaces in a variety of settings. Students may focus on a specific area of landscape design, such as urban planning, wetlands conservation or creating, preserving or restoring memorials and historical sites.

Develop Work Experience

Prospective project managers may begin developing their work experience in an apprenticeship or internship. Individuals can find opportunities with landscape architecture firms or with licensed, self-employed landscape architects. Internships provide students with direct experience that may include how to attract and manage clients, balance project budgets and develop landscape design skills.

Related entry-level positions, such as surveying technician or drafter, can also help architects develop experience in the field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals may also be able to qualify for state licensure based on extensive work experience; however, this can vary by state.

Get Licensed

According to the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB), all 50 states require landscape architects to be licensed. While it's possible to work in an architecture firm without a license, advancement opportunities are limited without the appropriate credentials. Federal positions, however, don't require landscape architects to be licensed.

To be eligible to take the Landscape Architect Registration Examination (L.A.R.E.), individuals usually need to complete an accredited degree program and have one to four years of work experience under a licensed landscape architect. State licensing requirements include a combination of education and work-related experience. Most licensing exams require a thorough knowledge of state-specific laws, environmental regulations and state-specific conditions.

Since individuals may not be able to transfer registration from one state to another, it's important to carefully review the guidelines for each state. Some states require landscape architects to pass the L.A.R.E. in addition to a state exam.

Organizations like the Association of Professional Landscape Designers offer voluntary certification. This certification may require meeting experience requirements and completing continuing education hours to maintain certification.

Continue Education

Some states require landscape design project managers to complete continuing education in order to maintain their licenses. Continuing education can assist project managers with updating their knowledge base as well as maintaining awareness of state laws, design practices and business techniques. Managers may consider options such as seminars, university classes and undertaking independent study to continue their education.

Earn Promotion

Landscape architects may have the opportunity to advance to managerial positions after gaining work experience and becoming licensed. Project managers typically have more responsibility for budgetary issues and client retention and tend to see a design project to completion with relative independence. Project managers may have the opportunity to become partners in a landscape architecture firm or start their own business.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states landscape architects often choose to specialize. Areas of specialization may include neighborhood streets and parks or waterfront areas and shopping districts. Some landscape architects focus on environmental remediation and historic landscape preservation or work for a government agency to address public use areas in national parks.

Once again, aspiring landscape design project managers, also called landscape architects, should complete an accredited postsecondary program in landscape architecture before gaining supervised experience in the profession as well as earning state licensure.

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