Education and Training Requirements
To prepare for a college program in landscape architecture, you should take courses in English composition and literature; social sciences, including history, government, and sociology; natural sciences, including biology, chemistry, and physics; art; computer-aided design; and mathematics. If available, take drafting and mechanical drawing courses to begin building the technical skills needed for the career.
A bachelor's or master's degree in landscape architecture is usually the minimum requirement for entry into this field. Undergraduate and graduate programs in landscape architecture are offered in various colleges and universities. For a list of programs that are accredited by the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), visit https://www.asla.org/schools.aspx. According to Design Intelligence, the following schools were ranked as having the best bachelor of landscape architecture degree programs in 2019–20:
- Pennsylvania State University
- Louisiana State University
- Cornell University
- University of Georgia
- Ohio State University
Courses of study usually focus on six basic areas of the profession: landscape design, landscape construction, plants, architecture, graphic expression (mechanical, freehand, and computer-based drawings), and verbal expression.
Hands-on work is a crucial element to the curriculum. Whenever possible, students work on real projects to gain experience with computer-aided design programs and multimedia simulation.
Other Education or Training
The American Society of Landscape Architects offers a variety of continuing education classes that cover topics such as green roofs, site planning, security design, and historic preservation. Contact the society for more information.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
All states require landscape architects to be licensed, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. To obtain licensure, applicants must pass the Landscape Architect Registration Examination, sponsored by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB). Though standards vary by state, most require applicants to have a degree from an accredited program and to be working toward one to four years of experience in the field. In addition, some states require prospective landscape architects to pass another exam that tests knowledge of local environmental regulations, vegetation, and other characteristics unique to the particular state. Because these standards vary, landscape architects may have to reapply for licensure if they plan to work in a different state. However, in many cases, workers who meet the national standards and have passed the exam may be granted the right to work elsewhere. For more information on licensing, contact the CLARB (https://www.clarb.org) or the ASLA (https://www.asla.org).
Landscape architects working for the federal government need a bachelor's or master's degree but do not need to be licensed.
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
To obtain state licensing, applicants must have one to four years of experience as an architect.
To be a successful landscape architect, you should be interested in art and nature and have good business sense, especially if you hope to work independently. Interest in environmental protection, community improvement, and landscape design is also crucial for the profession. You should also be flexible and be able to think creatively to solve unexpected problems that may develop during the course of a project. Other important traits include good communication and organizational skills, strong analytical abilities, and skill at using computer applications and other technology, including computer-aided design software and GIS technology.