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A Career As a Professional Landscape Architect Designer

Professional landscape architects design outdoor spaces that enhance people’s lives, promote environmental sustainability, and support economic growth. Their job involves site analysis, planning, design, implementation, and maintenance of public and private outdoor areas. This profession requires specialized education, extensive work experience, and licensing.

In addition to their drafting and surveying skills, landscape architects also have a creative flair that helps them bring an artistic vision to a project. Their technical skills also allow them to consider things such as water conservation, ecological restoration, and sustainable plant selection.

Some aspiring professional landscape architect designer choose to start their careers as interns, working their way up to a senior position in a firm. Others may pursue a master’s degree, which can accelerate their path to a senior role. Some may choose to establish their own practice, which entails being self-employed and managing all aspects of business.

As a general rule, landscape architects who wish to be considered licensed practitioners must earn a bachelor’s degree in horticulture or design, gain two to four years of work experience, and pass a licensing exam. Some states require more education and/or experience to become licensed than others, which is why it’s important for students to understand what their state’s requirements are when choosing a program.

Licensed landscape architects plan and design public outdoor spaces, such as parks, campuses, gardens, cemeteries, sports facilities, transportation facilities, commercial centers, and waterfront developments. They also design and plan the restoration of natural places disturbed by humans, including wetlands, stream corridors, mined land, and forested areas.

When working on projects that involve a public or private outdoor space, landscape architects often work closely with other professionals, such as engineers, construction managers, and contractors. This can include regular meetings and conference calls as well as visits to outdoor project sites. Landscape architects must be able to communicate effectively with the other members of their teams, and be able to adjust to changing conditions quickly.

Once a design is finalized, landscape architects prepare detailed drawings, specifications, and cost estimates. They also work with the project management team to monitor construction progress and ensure that all elements are built according to the design plans and meet required standards and codes.

As with all career paths, a career as a professional landscape architect has its rewards and challenges. Those interested in pursuing this field should understand the requirements for licensure and seek out an accredited institution such as NYIAD, which offers an undergraduate and graduate degree in landscape architecture, to help them achieve their goals. It is against the law in New York for anyone, regardless of education and training, to render or offer to render landscape architecture services without a license. Education Law Section 6509 defines professional misconduct as, among other things, permitting, aiding, or abetting the practice of landscape architecture by an unlicensed person. In addition, the Department of State views the conferring of titles such as “Vice President” or “Principal” on non-licensees as inappropriate and misleading.

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