Career Definition for Commercial Landscaping Designers
Commercial landscaping designers analyze and plan exterior spaces for commercial properties, including apartment complexes, hotels, office buildings and other related settings. Their responsibilities include choosing environmentally appropriate plants and shrubs, overseeing their installation, interacting with clients and creating budgets.
Commercial landscape design differs from landscape architecture in terms of project size and scope, educational prerequisites and licensing requirements. While landscape architects may use architectural plans to design business parks, golf courses or public parks, commercial landscaping designers typically use computer-aided drafting software, such as AutoCAD, to complete smaller projects. They may be employed as independent contractors, manage their own design firms or work for landscaping companies.
|Education||Certificate or associate's degree|
|Required Skills||Knowledge of horticulture, creativity and technical drawing skills, proficiency with computer-aided drafting programs, knowledge of landscape construction and maintenance|
|Median Salary (2018)*||$29,000 (landscaping and groundskeeping)|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)*||11% (landscaping and groundskeeping)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
In general, the education requirements for commercial landscaping designers include a certificate or an associate's degree in landscape design or horticulture technology. Some employers may prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree in sustainable landscape horticulture, which combines the study of landscape design with plant sciences.
In contrast to landscape architects, state licensure is not required; however, the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) offers voluntary certification for professionals with four or more years of experience. Information about educational programs and certification can be found on the APLD website (www.apld.com).
Knowledge of horticulture, creativity and technical drawing skills are key to working as a commercial landscaping designer. Proficiency with computer-aided drafting and design programs, such as AutoCAD and Dynascape, are also essential. In addition, designers should have a working knowledge of landscape construction and maintenance principles, as well as an awareness of important landscaping issues, such as sustainability and conservation. Other helpful skills include those related to budgeting, customer service and the use of word processing and spreadsheet programs.
Job and Salary Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has projected an 11%, or faster-than-average, growth in jobs nationwide for landscaping and groundskeeping workers from 2016 to 2026. Workers who were employed in May 2018 earned a median annual wage of $29,000. During that same year, states with the highest-paying wages were Alaska, Massachusetts, Washington D.C., and Washington, as reported by the BLS (www.bls.gov). According to Payscale.com, landscaping designers earned a median annual wage of $46,084 in April 2019 (www.payscale.com).
Alternate Career Options
Some similar career options include:
Environmental Scientists and Specialists
Environmental scientists and specialists apply their experience and understanding of natural science to safeguard environmental and human health, which may include advising industry leaders, government officials and policymakers on ways to clean up toxic sites or minimize waste products. To fill an entry-level position, employers usually look for graduates of a 4-year program in natural science or a closely related major. As reported by the BLS, in May 2018, environmental scientists and specialists earned median yearly salaries of $71,130. Increased public awareness of environmental hazards is just one of the factors that will lead to an 11% increase, or faster-than-average, growth in jobs for environmental scientists through 2026 (www.bls.gov).
Forest and Conservation Workers
Forest and conservation workers labor under the guidance of more senior technicians to enhance forest quality, and their responsibilities typically include planting seedlings and trees, removing overgrowth and trash or applying pesticides. Qualified high school graduates typically train on the job; associate's degree programs in forest harvesting or management, conservation or wildlife management may be found at some junior colleges or technical schools. The BLS reports that forest and conservation workers who were working in the field in May 2018 earned a median annual wage of $27,460; most worked for state and local governments. Despite increased demand for timber, the BLS has projected a 2% decline in employment for forest and conservation workers nationwide from 2016-2026 (www.bls.gov).