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Job Description: Landscape Architect.

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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.

Job Description, salaries and benefits

Landscape architects plan and design open spaces including inner-city squares, shopping centres, parks, coastline and countryside. They 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
  • investigating the natural resources, features, wildlife and plants in the area
  • using computer-aided design (CAD) packages to create plans
  • writing reports and giving presentations to groups of people
  • estimating costs and overseeing projects.

Landscape architects working in the public sector usually work around 37 hours a week, Monday to Friday, although evening meetings and additional hours may be required. In private practice hours may be longer and more irregular. They are usually based in an office, but spend a lot of time travelling to sites. Site work involves working outdoors in all weather conditions.

Salaries range from around £18,500 to £33,000 a year in public sector work, and may be higher in private practice.

A landscape architect should:

  • be able to balance different demands and come up with a creative solution
  • have an appreciation of design
  • have good communication skills
  • be interested in using outdoor space creatively.

Landscape architects work in private practices, the construction industry, public sector organisations and government agencies such as English Nature. Jobs are available throughout the UK and demand is increasing.

Most landscape architects have a degree or postgraduate qualification accredited by the Landscape Institute (LI). After successful completion of the course, students can become associate members of the LI. For adult entrants, the requirements for starting a degree course may be lowered, and work experience in architecture, horticulture or forestry can be useful.

To become a chartered landscape architect, associate members of the LI must follow the Pathway to Chartership, which usually takes at least two years. Chartered landscape architects are expected to do Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to keep their skills up to date.

In local government jobs there is a structured career path through to supervisory and managerial roles. In other organisations, landscape architects may need to change employers for more pay and responsibility. Some experienced landscape architects become self-employed, and there may be opportunities to work abroad.

 

What is the work like?

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.

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

 

Hours and environment

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.

 

Salary and other benefits

These figures are only a guide, as actual rates of pay may vary, depending on the employer and where people live.

  • An assistant landscape architect working in local government may have a starting salary of around £18,500 a year.
  • With more experience this could rise to between £24,000 and £28,000 a year.
  • A principal landscape architect in local government could earn around £33,000.

Salaries in private practice may be higher.

 

Skills and personal qualities

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.

 

Interests

  • horticulture, geology, geography
  • using outdoor space creatively
  • the environment
  • design

 

Getting in

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 www.lgjobs.com.

Entry for young people

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.

Entry for adults

The requirements for degree courses may be lowered for mature candidates with relevant work experience, for example technician-level posts in architecture, horticulture, botany or forestry.

 

Training

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.

 

Getting on

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.

 

Further information

  • Countryside Council for Wales, Maes-y-Ffynnon, Penrhosgarnedd, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2DW. 08451 306229
  • English Nature, Northminster House, Peterborough PE1 1UA. 0845 603 9953.
  • Improvement and Development Agency (IDEA), Layden House, 76-86 Turnmill Street, London EC1M 5LG. 020 7296 6781.
  • Landscape Design Trust, Bank Chambers, 1 London Road, Redhill, Surrey RH1 1LY. 01737 779257.
  • Landscape Institute (LI), 33 Great Portland Street, London W1W 8QG. 020 7299 4500.
  • Lantra, Lantra House, Stoneleigh Park, near Coventry CV8 2LG. 024 7669 6996.
  • Scottish Natural Heritage, Great Glen House, Leachkin Road, Inverness IV3 8NW. 01463 725000.

 

Further reading

  • Leaflets from the Landscape Institute
  • Working outdoors - Connexions

 

Magazines/journals

  • Green Places - Landscape Design Trust
  • Landscape - Landscape Institute
  • Landscape Review
  • Vista - Landscape Institute

 

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