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Difference Between Landscape Architect & Landscape Designer

Becoming a landscape architect requires more education, and may involve working on larger scale or public projects. Working as a landscape designer typically requires more specialized knowledge of plants, an artistic eye, and oftentimes projects are residential.

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Comparing Landscape Architect to Landscape Designer

While a landscape architect may work to plan and execute both commercial and residential projects, a landscape designer typically works on a smaller scale. Landscape architects must be prepared to work on large projects such as public spaces, and be knowledgeable about issues such as grading, constructing structures and drainage. A landscape designer, on the other hand, typically has more knowledge in different aspects of gardening and specialized plant knowledge.

Job title Educational Requirements Median Salary Job Outlook (2014-2024)
Landscape Architect Bachelor's degree or higher $63,480* (2016) 5%*
Landscape Designer Certificate or bachelor's degree $45,503** (2017) 5%*

Source: *BLS, **Payscale.com

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Responsibilities of Landscape Architect vs. Landscape Designer

While landscape architects work on a range of projects for independent clients, big corporations or the government, landscape designers work on a smaller scale--typically on residential or private projects. Both landscape architects and landscape designers must meet with clients to discuss budget and goals for the space and then propose a plan to make the client's vision a reality. These professionals also may use industry software to create plans or images of the final product.

Landscape architect

Landscape architects might work on projects in parks, trails, streetscapes, plazas, playgrounds, or college campuses. When making plans, they must consider both plants and the natural environment, and structures such as buildings and walkways. They bring both constructed and natural elements together in a functional way. Most of their time is spent in offices planning, researching and conducting meetings. This career requires at least a bachelor's degree in landscape architecture, although a master's degree offers more specialized knowledge and skills for career advancement. State licensure is also required since knowledge of laws and regulations related to building construction, drainage or energy usage is crucial to public spaces.

Responsibilities of a landscape architect include:

  • Meeting with clients and other team members on the project, such as engineers
  • Researching the job site and considering any limitations or requirements posed by the environment
  • Researching permitting requirements for construction
  • Making plans using CADD technology
  • Spending some time at the job site

Landscape designer

A landscape designer does not require licensure, and responsibilities can vary based on knowledge and experience. However, the main goal is to create an aesthetically pleasing landscape experience for clients, usually in a residential or private setting. Designers may discuss 'softscape' with clients, also known as plants and natural materials for their project, or 'hardscape', which includes building patios, pools, outdoor living spaces, lighting, or walls. They are knowledgeable about plants native to the area where they work, lawn care and sustainable planting. Landscape designers may benefit from earning certification from the Association of Professional Landscape Designers, or earning a master's degree to increase job prospects. These professionals may work for a landscaping company or be self-employed.

Responsibilities of a landscape designer include:

  • Meeting with clients to make plans
  • Making plans using CADD technology or making 3D models out of craft materials
  • Reviewing drawings and checking work for accuracy
  • Discussing plant preferences and budget with clients
  • Discussing and planning overall aesthetics and style of landscape with client
  • Considering issues such as soil and water usage and sustainability

Related Careers

Like landscape architects, civil engineers design aspects of public spaces such as roads and bridges. They must consider many moving parts, such as how a space will be used, and both natural and constructed elements.

Career Information for Civil Engineering

A professional gardener must have specialized knowledge of plants, just like a landscape designer. A professional gardener is responsible for maintaining the natural beauty and health of a garden, and must consider the needs of the space and plants. They also may work in private or residential settings.

Information on working as a Professional Gardener

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