A Landscape Architect? What is that?
Landscape Architects are highly trained and detail-oriented professionals who work to make the environment around us beautiful, sustainable, and functional by using resourceful land design and development. They combine the trades of engineers, architects, scientists, urban planners, economists, and community members. In the State of Virginia, Landscape Architects are the only design professionals who must be formally educated, trained, and state-tested in site planning and design.
Landscape Architects help to realize the full potential of the client’s land- which makes the property more aesthetically-pleasing, skyrockets property values, makes the land more useful, all while improving environmental contributions.
This cool profession not only requires a good amount of schooling and testing- but also requires a design and detail-oriented eye. Landscape Architects can start out doing a multitude of professions and varying hobbies, but at the end of the day they all have one thing in common. That the world is quite literally beautiful and functional because of them.
The typical path for a Landscape Architect (LA) is getting either a Bachelor or Masters in Landscape Architecture (or both), but this is not the only way to get there. Some LAs train themselves, some come from related fields like urban design, and others end up having a passion and switching mid-career. Becoming an LA is not exclusive to only these paths, making your own path also helps to diversify the career and strengthen the spaces that are created for everyone.
After the education piece, LAs must go through an extensive testing in order to become certified as a practicing Landscape Architect; and to tack ASLA (American Society of Landscape Architects) to the end of their name. They take the Landscape Architecture Registration Exam after an average of 5 years working in the profession, but some states allow it right after their graduation. All four sections of the test must be taken within 5 years of the passing of the first section. After that, they can attend LARE review sessions and webinars. The first section is on project and construction management. The following sections are on inventory and analysis, design, and grading with drainage/construction documentation.
Once they pass this test, they can become practicing LAs and the fun begins, but the learning does not. In order to keep up with their certification, they must complete a series of CEUs (continuing education units) every couple of years. This helps them stay up to date with new theories, strategies, and technologies that have come out since they have been licensed.
All in all, being a LA can involve a very tedious path, but as the WPL LAs say, ‘it is worth it for the earth and it’s continuing beauty.’ The world needs more Landscape Architects!