Jobs Outlook: Landscape Architects

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Employment of landscape architects is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2012. Their expertise will be highly sought after in the planning and development of new residential, commercial, and other types of construction, to meet the needs of a growing population. With land costs rising and the public demanding more beautiful spaces, the importance of good site planning and landscape design grows. Also, new construction is increasingly contingent upon compliance with environmental regulations, land use zoning, and water restrictions, spurring demand for landscape architects to help plan sites and integrate man-made structures with the natural environment in the least disruptive way. Landscape architects also will be increasingly involved in preserving and restoring wetlands and other environmentally sensitive sites. However, opportunities will vary from year to year, and by geographic region, depending on local economic conditions. During a recession, when real estate sales and construction slow down, landscape architects may face layoffs and greater competition for jobs. The need to replace landscape architects who retire or leave the labor force will produce some additional job openings.

Continuation of the Transportation Equity Act for the Twenty-First Century is expected to spur employment for landscape architects, particularly within State and local governments. This Act, known as TEA-21, provides funds for surface transportation and transit programs, such as interstate highway construction and maintenance and environment-friendly pedestrian and bicycle trails. Budget tightening in the Federal Government might restrict hiring in the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service, agencies that traditionally employ the most landscape architects in the Federal Government. Instead, such agencies may increasingly contract out for landscape architecture services, providing additional employment opportunities in private landscape architecture firms.

In addition to the work related to new development and construction, landscape architects are expected to be involved in historic preservation, land reclamation, and refurbishment of existing sites. They are also doing more residential design work as households spend more on landscaping than in the past. Because landscape architects can work on many different types of projects, they may have an easier time than other design professionals finding employment when traditional construction slows down.

New graduates can expect to face competition for jobs in the largest and most prestigious landscape architecture firms, but should face good job opportunities overall as demand increases, while the number of graduates of landscape architecture holds steady or goes up slightly. Opportunities will be best for landscape architects who develop strong technical skills—such as computer design—and communication skills, as well as knowledge of environmental codes and regulations. Those with additional training or experience in urban planning increase their opportunities for employment in landscape architecture firms that specialize in site planning as well as landscape design. Many employers prefer to hire entry-level landscape architects who have internship experience, which significantly reduces the amount of on-the-job training required.

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