How to Become a Landscape Architect (With Career Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 15 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A landscape architect is a professional who designs environmental areas for aesthetic and rehabilitation purposes. They may design residential gardens, inner-city parks, business landscapes and institutional gardens. By reviewing their typical skills and employment requirements, you can determine your personal aspects that might require development. In this article, we define a landscape architect job role, provide a guide on how to become a landscape architect, list tips for applying for this job and highlight the national average salary.

What is a landscape architect?

A landscape architect designs gardens for a variety of clients. They may design residential gardens for private homeowners, environmental parks for local councils and large gardens for institutes such as hospitals and universities. A landscape architect usually has excellent creativity and innovation for designing aesthetic gardens to improve the value or enjoyment of a private or public space. They often have extensive knowledge of local flora and identify appropriate trees and plants that thrive in a specific environment. A landscape architect may work as part of a design team or offer their services as a consultant.

Related: 22 Jobs In Architecture for Recent Graduates (With Salaries)

How to become a landscape architect

Below, you can find a helpful guide on how to become a landscape architect:

1. Gain foundational knowledge

Completing a formal education is usually the minimum employment requirement for becoming a landscape architect. Developing your design and landscaping knowledge is not a prerequisite for attending university, though it can help you achieve excellent grades during your studies. It can also help you develop your skills efficiently because you have existing knowledge of landscape principles. You typically develop advanced knowledge during your studies at university, so you rarely require extensive knowledge before commencing your studies.

2. Complete a bachelor's degree

A bachelor's degree is usually the minimum requirement for becoming a landscape architect. You can study for a bachelor's degree at a nationally recognised university. A Bachelor of Landscape Architecture is usually the most relevant degree you can study, but others can still teach you similar principles, such as a Bachelor of Design. If you complete a degree relating to landscape architecture, you may be eligible for some junior careers as a landscape architect. A completed bachelor's degree can also allow you to continue into postgraduate studies. A bachelor's degree typically takes three years to complete.

3. Complete a master's degree

A master's degree is usually the highest form of formal education for a landscape architect. A master's degree is postgraduate study that becomes available once you complete a bachelor's degree in a related field. The postgraduate element usually takes two years to complete, meaning there's a total of five years of study including a bachelor's degree. After completing a master's degree, you usually have extensive knowledge and skills to become an expert landscape architect. It can also help you gain employment experience if you plan to register with the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA).

4. Gain experience as a landscape designer

Once you complete your bachelor's degree or master's degree, you technically have the expertise to conduct professional work. So, you can apply for a landscape architect role, but there are still some advanced credentials you can gain beyond a university degree. If you gain two years of experience as a landscape architect, you can apply for registration with AILA. Besides gaining registration with AILA, work experience can also help you develop your practical expertise and design portfolio.

5. Register with AILA

Gaining registration with AILA can be an excellent addition to your professional credentials. AILA is a nationally recognised organisation that serves as an advocate for landscape architects. An AILA registration can highlight your professionalism, expertise and experience to potential employers and clients. It can also provide access to a professional network of like-minded individuals. This can be excellent for gaining clients, developing your skills and being part of a professional environment.

6. Develop a design portfolio

Like other design careers, a portfolio can help you display your previous work. It can serve as evidence of your expertise while also highlighting your creative potential to clients and employers. Some clients may search for a landscape architect with a specific design style or specialty. For example, some clients may have plans to create a fully sustainable and healthy residential garden. If you have experience creating sustainable gardens, you can include them in your portfolio to highlight your competency and innovation.

Related: How to Make a Portfolio In 9 Steps (With Valuable Tips)

7. Apply for a landscape architect position

Once you gain the necessary credentials, you can apply for a position as a landscape architect. It can be important to remember that you don't necessarily require a master's degree or registration with AILA. Those advanced credentials serve to improve your employment attributes rather than meet the minimum employment requirements. If you have a bachelor's degree, you can begin applying for a landscape architect role. You can expect to gain employment with design firms and landscaping companies or you may offer your services privately.

Tips for applying for a landscape architect job

Below, you can find some useful tips to consider when applying for a landscape architect position:

Determine your strengths and weaknesses

It can be a good idea to review your strengths and weaknesses before applying for a landscape architect job. This can help you identify areas that might require improvement. For example, if you believe your communication skills are lacking, you can take active steps to improve your communication. It can also help you determine skills and knowledge that you can focus on in your job application. If you have extensive design skills, you can highlight them in your resume to improve your employment suitability.

Related: How to Identify Your Strengths In the Workplace (With Types)

Specialise in advanced design styles

Specialising in a specific landscape style can usually improve your employment opportunities. For example, some clients may require unique design elements that incorporate intricate irrigation systems. These unique jobs that involve advanced expertise may be available to you if you specialise in a style of landscape architecture.

Research the hiring organisation

If you're applying for a landscaping company or architectural firm, you can research the organisation to determine their methodologies, typical projects, employee expectations and values. This can help you relate your job application to the hiring organisation. It can also help you answer interview questions that incorporate the organisation's values. If you highlight your shared values and expertise with the organisation, the hiring manager may deem you suitable for the work culture and operational environment.

Review the job listing

The job listing can be an excellent source of information when determining the job's typical responsibilities and employment requirements. A job listing is essentially an advertisement that hiring organisations post online to attract appropriate candidates. If you review the job listing, you may identify the employment requirements and job responsibilities and incorporate them into your job application. You can cross-reference your credentials with the job listing to ensure you're an eligible candidate for the job vacancy.

Develop an extensive resume

As a landscape architect, you may have an abundance of qualifications, certifications, experience and skills. Developing an effective resume can be an excellent way of highlighting your employment suitability and design expertise. When developing your resume, it can be helpful to identify the recruitment process the hiring organisation utilises. If they incorporate an applicant tracking system (ATS), you may consider creating a resume with simple formatting. Some ATS software can struggle to process complex resumes with varying fonts and designs.

Related: ATS Resume Format Guide (With Template and Example)

The average salary of a landscape architect

The national average salary of a landscape architect is $89,281 per year. There are typically many methods you can utilise to improve your salary as a landscape architect. The most common method may be to advance your expertise and knowledge of design and landscaping principles. The more expertise you gain as a landscape designer, the more money clients may be willing to pay for your services. You might also consider advancing to a consultancy or supervisory role. Positions involving managerial responsibilities often provide a higher salary than similar roles without managerial duties.

Your salary as a landscape architect might also vary depending on the location of your employment. Some states and territories might have a high demand for professional landscape architects. These regions with high demand typically provide a higher salary than the national average. Changing location can be a challenging task, as you may consider accommodation, travel times, different environments and time away from friends and family. The salary range between different states can often be extensive, so it might be worth considering. Below, you can find some average salary rates for landscape architects in different cities and states:

  • Preston, VIC: $81,421 per year

  • Sydney, NSW: $86,490 per year

  • Melbourne, VIC: $92,368 per year

  • Gold Coast, QLD: $98,853 per year

  • Hadfield, VIC: $105,831 per year

Salary figures reflect data listed on the quoted websites at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location. Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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