Landscape Architect

The Job and What's Involved

Landscape architects specialise in planning and designing open spaces. Their work can be found everywhere from inner-city squares to shopping centres, parks, coastline and countryside. Whether they are transforming a derelict industrial area or designing a landscape to complement a heritage site, landscape architects aim to produce pleasant places to live, work and relax that are environmentally friendly and sustainable.

A landscape architect's job may involve:

  • Talking to the client about the project.
  • Surveying the site and investigating its natural resources and features as well as the wildlife and plants in the area.
  • Consulting people who live and work in the area about the proposed development.
  • Using computer-aided design (CAD) packages to turn ideas for the project into plans.
  • Choosing trees, shrubs and plants that will suit the land type and the needs of the site.
  • Making sure there is suitable access to the site for disabled people and other users, for example people with pushchairs.
  • Estimating the costs of constructing the landscape and maintaining it once it is complete.
  • Giving presentations about the project to groups including clients, council committees, local people, and occasionally public enquiries.
  • Writing detailed reports.
  • Submitting plans and estimates to the client.
  • Once work is underway, visiting the site to make sure the designs are being followed and work is running smoothly.

Some landscape architects work alone, others as part of a team. They work closely with other professionals including architects, civil engineers, town planners, heritage and conservation officers, artists, ecologists, construction site supervisors and surveyors.

Landscape architects working in the public sector usually work around 37 hours a week, Monday to Friday. This may include evening meetings. Additional hours may be required to meet deadlines. Those working in private practice may work longer, more irregular hours. Part-time or flexible work may be available.

Landscape architects are usually based in an office, but they spend a lot of time travelling to visit sites and meet clients. Site work involves working outdoors in all weather conditions. It may be necessary to spend periods of time away from home.

Starting salaries for landscape architects in local government are around £18,500 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are around 6,000 chartered landscape architects in the UK. About half work in private practices, which are usually small or medium-sized businesses producing landscape designs for a range of different clients. Other employers include the construction industry and public sector organisations.

Most large local councils employ at least one landscape architect, and there are also opportunities with government agencies such as English Nature, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Countryside Council for Wales. Jobs are available throughout the UK and demand is increasing as people realise the importance of pleasant, sustainable environments.

Vacancies are advertised in the local and national press (including The Guardian on Wednesdays), the websites of the Landscape Institute (LI) and the Landscape Design Trust, and in specialist sector publications. Local government jobs are advertised in the jobs bulletins and on the websites of individual local authorities and at

Education and Training

Most landscape architects have a degree or postgraduate qualification accredited by the LI. The LI website has a list of accredited courses offered by universities and colleges throughout the UK.

The minimum requirements for a degree course usually include two A levels/three H grades, or equivalent qualifications. Subjects such as geography, environmental science, biology, and art and design are particularly useful. Admissions tutors may take previous relevant experience into account.

To gain a place on a postgraduate course, candidates need a good first degree. Subjects like environmental science, biology, geography, land-based sciences, landscape design, planning, soil science, forestry, engineering, agriculture and ecology are particularly useful.

Candidates are advised to check the specific entry requirements with individual institutions. There may be opportunities for part-time or flexible learning.

After successfully completing the course, students are eligible for associate membership of the LI. This is the first step to becoming a chartered landscape architect.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

To become a chartered landscape architect, associate members of the LI must follow the Pathway to Chartership (P2C). During this time associates are mentored by a fully qualified member of the Institute.

They make online submissions and receive feedback from the Pathway supervisor. The Pathway is flexible, so associates can move forward at their own pace. However, it usually requires at least two years' professional experience before associates are ready to progress to the oral examination which is the final stage of the Pathway. If they successfully complete the Pathway, associates can become full members of the LI and use the title chartered landscape architect.

Chartered landscape architects are expected to undergo a minimum of 20 hours' Continuing Professional Development (CPD) a year to keep their skills up to date.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A landscape architect should:

  • Be able to balance a number of different demands and come up with a creative solution.
  • Have an appreciation of design.
  • Have good communication skills.
  • Have an understanding of related topics such as conservation, civil engineering, surveying, geology, horticulture and earth-moving techniques.
  • Have good negotiating skills.
  • Work well in a team and on their own initiative.
  • Have good computer skills.

Your Long Term Prospects

Promotion prospects vary from employer to employer. In local government jobs, there is a structured career path through to supervisory and managerial roles. In other organisations it may be necessary to move to another employer for more pay and responsibility.

A successful landscape architect working in private practice may be made a partner in their organisation. Some experienced landscape architects become self-employed, setting up their own practices.

There may be opportunities to work abroad.

Get Further Information

Countryside Council for Wales,
Maes-y-Ffynnon, Penrhosgarnedd,
Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2DW
Tel: 08451 306229

English Nature, Northminster House,
Peterborough PE1 1UA
Tel: 0845 603 9953

Improvement and Development Agency (IDEA),
Layden House, 76-86 Turnmill Street, London EC1M 5LG
Tel: 020 7296 6781

Landscape Institute (LI),
33 Great Portland Street,
London W1W 8QG
Tel: 020 7299 4500

Lantra, Lantra House, Stoneleigh Park,
near Coventry CV8 2LG
Tel: 024 7669 6996
and (young people's website)

Scottish Natural Heritage,
Great Glen House, Leachkin Road, Inverness IV3 8NW
Tel: 01463 725000

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