There are about 19,820 landscape architects employed in the United States. Approximately 65 percent of landscape architects are employed in architectural, engineering, and related services. Ten percent work for federal, state, and local governments. Landscape architects work in every state in the United States, in small towns and cities as well as heavily populated areas. Some work in rural areas, such as those who plan and design parks and recreational areas. However the majority of positions are found in suburban and urban areas.
Landscape architects work for a variety of different employers in both the public and private sectors. They may work with a school board planning a new elementary or high school, with manufacturers developing a new factory and its grounds, with homeowners improving the land surrounding their home, or with a city council planning a new suburban development.
In the private sector, most landscape architects do some residential work, though few limit themselves entirely to projects with individual homeowners. Larger commercial or community projects are usually more profitable. Workers in the public sector plan and design government buildings, parks, and public lands. They also may conduct studies on environmental issues and restore lands such as mines or landfills.
After graduating from a landscape architecture program, you can usually receive job assistance from your school's career placement service. Although these services do not guarantee a job, they can be of great help in making initial contacts. Many positions are posted by the American Society of Landscape Architects in its journal, Landscape Architecture (https://www.asla.org/lamsubscription.aspx), as well as on its Web site. Government positions are normally filled through civil service examinations. Information regarding vacancies may be obtained through the local, state, or federal civil service commissions.
Most new hires are often referred to as interns or apprentices until they have gained initial experience in the field and have passed the necessary examinations. Apprentices' duties vary by employer; some handle background project research, others are directly involved in planning and design. Whatever their involvement, all new hires work under the direct supervision of a licensed landscape architect. All drawings and plans must be signed and sealed by the licensed supervisor for legal purposes.
After obtaining licensure and gaining work experience in all phases of a project's development, landscape architects can become project managers, responsible for overseeing the entire project and meeting schedule deadlines and budgets. They can also advance to the level of associate, increasing their earning opportunities by gaining a profitable stake in a firm.
The ultimate objective of many landscape architects is to gain the experience necessary to organize and open their own firm. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, nearly 19 percent of all landscape architects are self-employed—nearly double the average of workers in other professions. After the initial investment in computer-aided design software, few start-up costs are involved in breaking into the business independently.
Tips for Entry
Create a portfolio of your student projects and other work so that you are ready to interview for jobs.
The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) offers a wealth of career planning resources at its Web site,https://www.asla.org/yourpath/index.html.
Join the ASLA to access training and networking opportunities, industry publications, and employment opportunities.
Participate in internships or part-time jobs that are arranged by your college’s career services office.
Apply for an entry-level job at a landscape architecture firm.