CAREER DEVELOPMENT / APR. 14, 2014
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How to Become a Landscape Architect

How to Become a Landscape Architect
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Landscape architects, or designers, are known for their creativeness and practical approach. You will have to be good at drawing and know how to use computer-aided design programs. Because landscape design deals with the environment and conservation as much as it does with physical appearance of the site, professionals in this area have to also have technical and scientific knowledge. 

What are the responsibilities of a landscape architect?

As a landscape architect, you will be expected to design, plan, create and manage landscapes in public parks, areas around public buildings, reclaimed industrial sites, new roads and motorways, or housing developments.

You will need good communication skills, written and oral, as the work requires someone who can speak with clients and help them precisely formulate their needs and expectations from the project. 

Entry requirements and qualifications needed

Landscape architects have to take an accredited degree program or postgraduate qualification to land a job. One option is to take a degree in landscape architecture accredited by the Landscape Institute (LI). Those who already have a degree in a related field, such as architecture, horticulture, or botany, can take an accredited postgraduate course. For more details on LI accredited programs and careers information you can see their "I want to be a landscape architect" website.

Most landscape architecture university programs ask for either two A levels (subjects such as art, biology, botany and geography are particularly relevant) or GCSEs including English and either math or science. Colleges will take into account any relevant experience you may have when considering your application for admissions. 

Employers today expect landscape architects to have a chartered membership of the Landscape Institute (MLI). To get this membership, you will have to take the LI Pathway to Chartership (P2C) which lasts 2 years and includes mentoring from a qualified member of the LI, regular feedback from the Pathway supervisor, and a final oral exam. 

After getting an MLI status, you will have to complete at least 20 hours’ continuing professional development (CPD) each year.

The work and income

Newly qualified landscape architects make around £20,000 a year. Those with experience can expect to be earning anything from £25,000 to over £40,000.

As a landscape architect, you will usually work 37 hours a week, Monday to Friday. You may be required to work overtime to meet project deadlines. Though based in an office, you will need to travel to inspect sites or meet with clients. At construction sites, you will have to wear special protective gear, such as a safety helmet. Occasionally, you will have to stay overnight away from home near an out-of-city construction site to avoid losing time and cut transportation costs. 

Employers and career development

Around half of landscape architects work in private sector. Most of employers are small companies which specialise in certain types of landscape. Another half works with local authorities, the construction industry, and voluntary organisations. With time and more experience, you can progress to supervisory or management positions, or set up your own practice. 

For current vacancies and further reading on landscape architecture, you can visit the following websites:

Landscape Institute 

British Association of Landscape Industries 

LGjobs 

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