Job descriptions and industry overviews

Landscape architect: job description

4 Jul 2023, 10:36

Landscape architects design and plan outdoor spaces that are practical and aesthetically pleasing.

landscape image

What does a landscape architect do? Graduate salaries | Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Landscape architects advise on, plan, design and oversee the creation, regeneration and development of external areas such as gardens and recreational areas, and residential, industrial and commercial sites. They combine artistic skills with knowledge of human activity and the natural environment – and can help to protect and conserve the environment.

Typical duties include:

  • creating plans, designs and drawings of built and natural environments using computer-aided design programs
  • surveying sites
  • advising on matters to do with environmental conservation
  • carrying out environmental impact assessments
  • discussing requirements with clients, and keeping them informed of progress
  • writing reports
  • producing contracts and estimated costs
  • presenting proposals to clients for approval and agreeing timescales
  • overseeing projects as they progress
  • seeking the opinions of locals, business and others who use a site
  • liaising with other professionals such as architects, surveyors, town planners and civil engineers.

Landscape architects do not carry out actual construction or maintenance – this is done by contractors.

You’re likely to split your time between a desk-based work and on-site work, so you’ll need to travel regularly. You may need to work unsocial hours when deadlines are approaching.

Graduate salaries

Starting salaries for landscape architects tend to be around £24,000, according to jobs comparison site Glassdoor. Earnings will increase with experience: once you are chartered, you could earn around £34,000.

Typical employers for landscape architects

  • Landscape design practices
  • Construction and engineering consultancies
  • House-building companies
  • Architecture firms
  • Local authorities.

With experience and chartership, you could become self employed and work as a consultant. You could also teach or focus on an area of interest.

Vacancies are typically advertised online via careers services and on specialists jobs boards. Specialist recruitment agencies also advertise vacancies, although these tend to be for more experienced roles.

Qualifications and training required

You need a relevant degree accredited by the LI to become a landscape architect, which usually means completing a three-year undergraduate degree plus a one-year postgraduate diploma in landscape architecture.

If your undergraduate degree is in another subject, you can do a postgraduate ‘conversion’ masters lasting up to two years. You may need a related degree, such as art, geography or horticulture to be accepted.

You can specialise in a range of areas within the field of landscape architecture, including design, management, science, planning or urban design.

Once you’re employed and have several years’ experience, you can work towards gaining chartership, a professional qualification, with the LI. This involves building professional skills on the job under the guidance of a mentor, and passing a final exam.

You’ll need to continue to build skills to maintain your chartered status – at least 25 hours’ continuing professional development per year. You can earn these via courses, events and other work-based learning opportunities.

If you are a school leaver, you could take a landscape technician apprenticeship, which involves studying alongside working.

Key skills for landscape architects

Employers will be looking for:

  • artistic flair
  • an interest in the environment, life sciences and knowledge of the conditions needed for wildlife to flourish
  • good verbal and written communication
  • negotiation and leadership ability
  • an eye for detail
  • lateral and spatial thinking
  • technical skills, including the ability to use computer-aided design
  • client management skills.

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