Also known as landscape architects, landscape designers are responsible for the design and planning of land and outdoor spaces through aesthetic and scientific principles. Students should be able to develop essential skills in design, natural science, and modern construction techniques. Graduates holding a degree in the subject should be able to find employment with development firms, town or city municipalities, construction companies, parks or estates. It is highly recommended that those working in the field become licensed or certified by professional organizations like the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards after gaining work experience. In most cases, students should be able to complete a bachelor’s degree in landscape design in four to five years.
Students enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program in landscape design must first complete basic level courses in English, mathematics, history, and composition before moving onto the core curricula. Courses specific to the major will include environmental systems, site engineering and construction, plant materials, planting design, and many more. Most programs will require that students learn CAD, or computer-aided design, programs as well.
- Soil Ecology. In this course, students learn about the physical, chemical, and biological properties of soil. Then, they study how it will affect plant growth in various ecosystems.
- Site Engineering. Students will learn the basics of civil engineering in addition to learning to apply the principles to a project technically, ecologically, and aesthetically. Students will gain skills in storm water management, earthwork calculation methods, piping systems, retaining walls, and more.
- Materials and Methods. This course provides students with a study of construction materials like concrete, masonry, wood, and metals, in relation to how they are used in a project. Students will also develop skills in cost estimating, and construction documentation, including planting design, grading plans, layout plans, and construction details.
Most online bachelor’s degree programs in landscape design should allow students to complete coursework at their own pace within a specific time frame allotted for each assignment or course. Most programs also require that students complete some form of internship or work study program before graduation.
Building a Career
Graduates holding a bachelor’s degree in landscape design or landscape architecture should be able to find an entry-level career with private construction firms, golf courses, or in city or state government. In most cases, landscape designers will split their time between developing new projects in the office, and overseeing an actual project in progress at a job site. All states require landscape architects to be licensed to oversee a project from start to finish. While each state’s requirements are different, most will require a degree from an accredited school, and one to four years of work experience under the supervision of a licensed landscape architect. Individuals must then sit for the Landscape Architect Registration Examination (L.A.R.E.).
While the number of positions in the field can fluctuate with the strength of the economy, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the field is expected to grow by 16% through 2020. The BLS also reported that the median annual income for landscape architects was $62, 090, in 2010. However, it should be noted that those working to gain experience to obtain licensure usually make considerably less.