Some questions for a landscape architect

rbjones2009March 10, 2009

Hey, I want to study landscape architecture. I was wondering if there was anyone out there that wouldn't mind answering a few questions I have about the field.

What kind of art skill is needed to be a successful landscape architect?

What do landscape architects do on a daily basis?

Are there many available jobs for landscape architects?

In your opinion, is it better to work for with a company or work individually?

What college(s) did you attend?

Is it difficult to get your license?

What are some of the benefits of being a landscape architect?

Are you in a certain niche in landscape architecture?

How do you think landscape architect job opportunities will be in the up coming years?

Do you enjoy your job as a landscape architect?

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laag(z6CapeCod)

Hey, I want to study landscape architecture. I was wondering if there was anyone out there that wouldn't mind answering a few questions I have about the field.
I'll give it a try
What kind of art skill is needed to be a successful landscape architect?
It is a diverse field, so some areas of it require a lot of art skill (if you mean drawing skills or composition skills). It is definitely a good outlet for someone with art skills to apply them, but there are plenty of opportunities for those without good drawing hands, for example (I do not draw well).

What do landscape architects do on a daily basis?
Again, there are lots of different ways people function as landscape architects. Many are involved in designing the layout of commercial and residential landscapes, but that concept also means different things to different people.Many think it is all about garden design. Some LAs do specialize in garden design, but many do much more than that. Plants and hardscapes are often tools to support desired experiences or mitigate negative experiences as people go about activities on a site whether it is a National Park, a residence, a mall parking lot, a hospital, a college campus, a city park, an airport, .... and some people get degrees in landscape architecture to work as city planners.
I work in a civil engineering office with 8 employees. I do everything from putting an upgraded septic system on a plan, to drawing site plans for razing and replacing multimillion dollar ocean front homes, to multiple building affordable housing developments, to police stations, hotels, office campuses, subdivision plans, redesign parking lots, wetland restoration projects, changing little cottages into condominiums, ..... and sometimes waterfront residential landscape plans with stne walls, tennis courts, swimming pools, ....I also have a side business doing residential landscapes for all walks of life.

Are there many available jobs for landscape architects?
Right now things are not so good. There was a lot of development going on and lots of people got involved in this field to fill the need. Right now demands are falling off and people are getting laid off. There are lots of experienced people looking for work that is just not out there at this time. That eing said, landscape architecture is not the only field with this problem. I watched job posting completely stop in the month of September on the ASLA website. Since then, most of the job postings have been for government jobs or teaching positions at a rate of about 3 or four a week nationally.

In your opinion, is it better to work for with a company or work individually?
Most definitely, it is important to work for others for several years in order to get not only the skills needed for design, but to learn the rest of the business and to develop contacts and some sort of recognition as well. I like to say that it is easier to move sideways than to climb up. Work with people who are already doing what you want to do. Let them take you there and simply step off the train once it gets you where you want to be.

What college(s) did you attend?
I went to the University of Idaho - not an elite school, but I have learned that I did get a very solid well balanced education. Wherever you go, make sure that it is accredited in landscape architecture (www.asla.org has a link to accredited schools). Some schools are heavier in plants, others are more into planning.

Is it difficult to get your license?
Licensing has a lot of hoops to jump through. It varies slightly from state to state. Typically, you need to havea bachelor's degree from an accredited school, two years of internship (working full time under the direct supervision of a licensed landscape architect), and then you are allowed to take the LARE test (landscape architecture registration exam). It is at least 5 sections (some states tag on specific sections of their own). It took three days when I took it. The good news is that if you take in everything through your education and work for two years, you will most likely have little difficulty passing the exam. If you shy away from things you don't like while in school or interning, it may be more difficult

What are some of the benefits of being a landscape architect?
You have the opportunity to learn a wide variety of site planning skills that open the possibility to apply those in many different directions. It is definitely a profession that gives me satisfaction through problem solving and as an artistic outlet as well. It can pay pretty well depending on what you do.

Are you in a certain niche in landscape architecture?
I'm not. Part of that is because I wound up working with engineers ten years ago because there were not a lot of landscape architecture opportunities in my area. Another part of it is that I grew up in a landscaping family long before getting my degree at 35. I have worked as an LA for very nice design/build landscape companies as well as land planning (civil engineers/land surveyors). That lets me have fun with custom pools and lush landscapes for ocean front summer homes one day and laying out an affordable elderly housing complex the next. Most LAs operate in a narrower range than the circumstance that I fell in to.

How do you think landscape architect job opportunities will be in the up coming years?
Not very good. Too many people filled a big need in a growing economy and now the economy is shrinking. It will be a while before house property values rise. When they are rising the profession grows. When it stagnates it shrinks. It will take a while for an uplifting economy to absorb the existing experienced LAs before those coming out of school will be swept up in my opinion. Although, the bigger players in the industry tend to like to get production out of lower paid interns

Do you enjoy your job as a landscape architect?
Yes

    Bookmark   March 10, 2009 at 10:29PM
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rbjones2009

Thank you for your response!

This helps me out a great deal.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2009 at 10:33PM
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kalaysa_calpoly_edu

Great Read! Especially for an undergraduate LA student like myself.

I am currently in my 5th year going on my 6th and will graduate June 2012. Even internships are difficult to obtain because of the economy. As a result, paid internships are getting much more competitive and/or either require you to have certain skills and experience already so they don't need to train and supervise you (aka "hold your hand).

So if you are a current student I recommend researching potential employers or call them and find out what kind of skills or experience they are looking for. And while you are in school, work on developing the skills and experience needed for hire so you are well prepared and ready once you graduate. Too often I see and hear about recent graduates not obtaining a job because there just wasn't enough practice put in from each to student to practice the pace works of a practical or typical work flow office.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2011 at 2:31PM
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