Landscape designers may incorporate hardscaping into their plans.
Homes and businesses that need beautiful yards, well-sculpted foliage and green public spaces turn to the services of landscape designers or architects. These professionals typically work from offices during the design phase, but travel to work sites to assess the progress of projects. Many earn their salaries by working more than 50 hours a week, including evenings and weekends, when deadlines approach.
Landscape designers made an average $66, 520 per year, or $31.98 per hour, as of May 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But the bottom 10 percent made less than a mean annual $37, 620, or $18.08 an hour, while the best-paid 10 percent received $99, 560 a year, or $47.87 per hour. The BLS sees jobs for the positions increasing at 16 percent, which is slightly more than the 14 percent predicted for all occupations but less than the 24 percent expected for all architects. Environmental concerns and the public’s need for beautiful outdoor spaces will drive the demand. Those with strong technical and communication skills, and knowledge of environmental regulations will find the best opportunities.
In 2011, more than 60 percent of the total 15, 760 landscape designers worked for themselves or in architectural and engineering firms, where they averaged an annual $67, 430, or $32.42 hourly. Next for employment were services to buildings and dwellings, with 16 percent of the jobs, and average salaries of $57, 280 a year, or $27.54 an hour. State government rounded out the top job opportunities. For high pay, activities related to real estate topped the list at a mean annual $92, 720, or $44.58 per hour. This category included property managers and real estate appraisers. Second for compensation was the federal government at a mean annual $83, 120, or $39.96. State government was the source of the third-highest average pay at $81, 850 a year, or $39.35 an hour.
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The state with the best employment for landscape designers in 2011 was California, which showed 2, 480 positions earning an average $78, 220 yearly, or $37.61 an hour. The state with the highest pay was New Mexico, with annual salaries of $86, 460, or $41.57 per hour. Topping the opportunity list for metro areas was Seattle, Bellevue and Everett, in Washington, with 550 jobs and an annual $61, 010, or $29.33 an hour. The urban area with the highest wages was San Jose, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara, in California, where average salaries ran $103., 850, or $49.93 an hour.
A bachelor's or master's degree in landscape architecture is required to work as a landscape designer. The former takes four or five years of study, while the latter takes two to three years. Courses include landscape design and construction, ecology, surveying, geology and professional practice. Many programs also require an internship with a landscape architecture firm so students gain practical experience. All 50 states require licenses for designers working outside of the federal government. Licensing requires a degree, work experience and passing the Landscape Architecture Registration Examination.