Difference Between Landscape Architect & Urban Planner

Landscape architects and urban planners need to have some creative talents and familiarity with environmental and building regulations, but the type of work they specifically do is different. This article looks at the responsibilities for each of these professionals.

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Comparing Landscape Architects to Urban Planners

Landscape architects and urban planners both use their creative talents to determine design plans. The primary difference between them is that landscape architects design specific outdoor areas, such as parks, while urban planners determine where buildings can be constructed and what type of infrastructure is needed.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary* (2016) Job Growth* (2014-2024)
Landscape Architect Bachelor's Degree $63,480 5%
Urban Planner Master's Degree $70,020 for Urban and Regional Planners 6% for Urban and Regional Planners

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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  • Architectural History
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Responsibilities of Landscape Architects vs Urban Planners

Landscape architects and urban planners are both affected by environmental regulations and building codes. They must consider all local laws when they're working on plans. Landscape architects specifically focus on the layout and features in outdoor areas and may have to consider things like existing trees or environmentally sensitive areas that they need to work around when determining how to use the land. Urban planners must consider environmental factors as well as community needs and the long-term development plans for a specific region. They weigh a lot of information when deciding where parks or businesses should be constructed, and make recommendations about what types of projects should or should not be allowed in different parts of their city.

Landscape Architect

Landscape architects are required to have a bachelor's degree, and they are required to have a license in most states. Some have their own businesses, while the highest percentage of landscape architects work for architectural and engineering firms. The focus of a landscape architect's job is to create a design plan for an outdoor area, so they need to be creative and able to visualize how a project could look depending on what features are included. Since they have to balance client needs, budgets and other factors like environmental regulations, they need to come up with creative solutions to ensure their proposals fit within all the relevant criteria for the job.

Job responsibilities of a landscape architect include:

  • Discuss project proposals with clients
  • Visit site locations and identify geographic features they may need to incorporate into their design plan
  • Draft plan proposals
  • Determine the expected cost of the project
  • Travel to worksites and check on project's progress

Urban Planner

Urban planners determine what their community needs and where it is appropriate for different things to be located. They are required to have a master's degree in their field, and they need to be thorough and decisive. They must analyze a lot of data and then make informed recommendations based on that information. Most urban planners work for the government, although some may work for engineering or architectural firms. Daytime office hours are normal, although urban planners may have to work overtime when they have a deadline and they may also have to work some evening hours to meet with community members to discuss projects and concerns.

Job responsibilities of an urban planner include:

  • Inform the community about proposed projects
  • Discuss community needs with other professionals who may be involved with the projects
  • Determine if buildings or sites are historical and should be preserved
  • Review relevant environmental laws or building codes
  • Identify community needs
  • Determine what projects should be prioritized or approved

Related Careers

If you're thinking about becoming a landscape architect but prefer working outside, you may want to consider being a landscape technician since these professionals are the ones who are responsible for planting trees and caring for the outdoor areas that landscape architects design. Those who are considering working as urban planners may also be interested in civil engineering, since civil engineers design many of the infrastructure projects that are needed in communities.

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