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Landscape Ecology and Planning Careers: Options and Requirements

Landscape ecology is generally an interdisciplinary field. Continue reading for an overview of the degree programs and other education requirements, as well as career and salary information for some career options for graduates.

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Landscape ecology encompasses many different professions, with some requiring an associate's degree and other needing an advanced degree. Jobs within these professions - including landscape architecture, landscape planning and ecology - are expected to grow at about the average rate for all professions during the next decade.

Essential Information

Landscape ecology is an interdisciplinary field that focuses on how changes in patterns affect ecosystems. Scientists study the impact of human activity on the environment and encourage sustainable use of the land. Many of the careers related to landscape ecology and planning require advanced degrees or certification; some may require a doctorate, but others may only need an associate's degree.

Careers Landscape Architect Landscape Ecologist Landscape Planner
Required Education Bachelor's Degree Associates Degree Bachelor's Degree
Other Requirements Pass the Landscape Architect Registration Exam Higher education is necessary to pursue independent research Internships
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024*) 5% 8% 6%
Median Salary (2015*) $63,810 $82,150 $68,220

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Landscape Architect

Landscape architects design outside spaces like streetscapes, academic campuses, playgrounds and monuments. They also protect forests and wetlands when planning natural resource conservation and restoration projects. Professionals take into account endemic environmental conditions and the desire to create community-enhancing spaces when planning out a design.

Educational Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), completion of a bachelor's or master's degree is generally considered a requirement of those entering the field. The 4- to 5-year Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture and Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree programs may require students to complete an internship in addition to coursework. Master of Landscape Architecture programs take 2-3 years to complete.

Career Information

The BLS jobs forecast from 2014-2024 anticipates a 5% jump in job opportunities for landscape architects for the decade. The increase in landscape architects' employment was expected because of a growth in redevelopment projects and new construction. The 22,500 professionally employed landscape architects took home a median annual wage of $63,810 as of the BLS May 2015 report.

Certification Information

Most states require landscape architects to obtain a license by passing the Landscape Architect Registration Examination in order to practice. State requirements vary but graduates of programs in landscape architecture who can prove a certain amount of hands-on experience are generally eligible to take the exam. Because states have different laws protecting a wide variety of natural resources and regional environmental qualities, some states require certification candidates to pass a state-specific exam.

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Landscape Ecologist

General ecologists study the relationships that organisms have with their environments. Landscape ecologists study these relationships on a grand scale, looking into things like how land mosaic transformations affect the movements of animals. Additionally, these professionals investigate how policy decisions and planning theories can help conserve natural resources.

Educational Requirements

Landscape ecology is a young field and - as of the BLS reports available in December 2015 - biological scientists pursuing independent research are required to have a doctoral degree. Graduates of a bachelor's program in a relevant field like ecology, natural resources conservation or ecosystem management are qualified for positions in applied research or product development.

Other jobs in the area of landscape ecology might be available to those who have a certificate or 2-year college degree in a relevant biological science discipline. These jobs are usually entry-level technician positions in government and city planning offices, zoning departments as well as environmental protection agencies. Other possible jobs might be in the so-called green industries, including landscape and roof installation.

Career Information

Ecologists are counted among the BLS' May 2015 tally of 34,100 otherwise unspecified biological scientists; these professionals took home a median annual wage of $82,150. Biological science professionals were expected to see an 8% increase in job opportunities from 2014-2024, due in part to the increased employment in the biotechnology field.

Landscape Planner

Landscape planners design public spaces around the projected future needs of a region. Planners take such goals and variables into account as job creation, area growth, access to resources and economic development.

Educational Requirements

As of December 2015, the BLS stated that urban and regional planners generally needed to have earned a relevant master's degree in order to obtain post-entry-level jobs. Applicants for these 2-year programs are required to have earned a bachelor's degree, but not necessarily from a specific discipline. Programs may require students to intern for a planning agency prior to graduation.

Career Information

The 2014-2024 BLS jobs forecast predicted a 6% increase in employment of urban and regional planners. BLS reports showed that the 38,000 professionally employed urban and regional planners earned a median annual wage of $68,220 as of May 2015.

Certification Information

Certification for planners is administrated by a section of the American Planning Association (APA) called the American Institute of Certified Planners. Members of the APA who can prove that they have a certain amount of experience as a professional planner are eligible to take a written examination. Requirements for experience vary from 2-8 years according to a sliding scale, depending on how much education that the certification candidate has earned.

As a landscape ecology and planning professional, one needs at least an associate's degree. Certain jobs within this field may require an advanced degree or certification. The number of jobs within the landscape ecology and planning field is expected to increase anywhere from 5% to 8% through 2024, depending on the specific career.

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