A Closer Look at a Career as a Landscape Architect
Have you ever gone to the park in your community and wondered how the park came to be? We might not realize it, but we often find ourselves immersed in the output of the hard work of a landscape architect—whether it’s the green space at your favourite mall, the al fresco cafeteria at your mom’s or dad’s office building, or the open study space at your sibling’s university.
There is a misconception, however, that landscape architects are the same as landscape designers, but architects are involved in the planning stages before a project even gets off the ground, while landscape designers are brought in during the design stages. This means landscape architects deal with a wide variety of elements and collaborate with various teams to bring an outdoor space into life. Let us take an in-depth look at a career as a landscape architect and how you can get your foot in the door in this promising industry.
So What Is a Landscape Architect?
A landscape architect bears the responsibilities similar to a building or house architect except that they solely work with outdoor spaces, which are either residential, commercial, or government. For example, when a property owner buys office space and decides to convert it to a strip mall, they will hire a landscape architect to conceptualize an outdoor space aligned with that strip mall’s brand and ensure the project is completed according to timelines, budget, city regulations, and environmental considerations (soil, irrigation, drainage, etc). At the same time, they have to collaborate with city planners, engineers, property owners, and government departments.
According to PayScale.com, a landscape architect can earn as much as $41,396 up to $80,497 a year. Those with experience of seven years and up can earn as much as $100,000 to $140,000 a year. In some cases, they are also entitled to profit sharing and other bonuses.
It takes more than knowledge of design aesthetics to be a successful landscape architect. You will need great heaps of collaborative skills since you will be working alongside different teams to achieve the same goal – an incredible outdoor space that the public or the community can enjoy.
Being a team player is a skill that we learn to acquire or develop at an early age, so welcome with open arms if your teacher asks you to work with groups on school projects. As you grow older, you can enhance your collaborative spirit, which is a must if you want to succeed in the landscape architecture field.
Apart from this, one also has to be knowledgeable in the scientific elements involved in creating outdoor spaces. A good dose of project management expertise will also be beneficial in the field as landscape architects are also responsible for monitoring the progress of an outdoor space project.
Education-wise, a degree in landscape architecture is a must, and there are two prestigious institutions that offer this in Canada – a BA at the Uni versity of Guelph and a BAP at the Universite de Montreal. For advancement in the industry, future landscape architects can also complete a master’s program.
Pros and Cons
The most obvious advantage of being a landscape architect is that they have the wonderful opportunity to be mainly responsible for bringing green or environment-friendly outdoor space ideas into fruition, putting their creative spin and innovative thinking, while keeping true to their green initiatives.
A disadvantage is that it is not an isolated profession which means they have to deal with different types of people. They have to be open to the possibility that they will encounter people whom they would not see eye to eye with in terms of initiating the project, and in turn, they have to work doubly hard and make an effort to put differences aside while remaining focused on the same goal.
There is a shortage of landscape architects in Canada, but this is something that can easily be mitigated.