Landscape architects often visit the job site.
Landscape architects combine artistic abilities with technical skills in designing home developments, gardens, parks and commercial areas, working in cooperation with engineers and planning professionals. They also play a role in safeguarding the environment by helping restore natural areas, such as wetlands and forests. Landscape architects must earn an accredited master's or bachelor's degree in the major and pass a national licensing exam. On average, a master's degree commands a higher starting salary than a bachelor's.
The Advantage of Mastery
The average starting salary for a master's degree in landscape architecture was $46, 000 per year in 2013, reports the American Society of Landscape Architects. The same year, bachelor's degree graduates had average starting salaries of $37, 000 annually. In 2013, 46.2 percent of new grads reported receiving a master's degree, while 53.5 percent received a bachelor's degree.
The master's degree advantage varies from year to year. In 2012, master's graduates received an average annual starting pay of $47, 000, compared to $37, 000 with a bachelor's degree, according to ASLA. In 2011, new master's grads started at $46, 000 annually on average, and bachelor's grads averaged $39, 000. The 2013 ASLA study reports salaries back to 1999, and master's grads started at a higher level every year. However, the difference ranges from $3, 000 per year in 2004 to a high of $10, 000 per year in 2010 and 2012.
The average annual wage for landscape architects overall was $68, 030 annually in 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salaries ranged from $38, 450 or less for the lowest-earning 10 percent to $101, 850 or higher for the top 10 percent. More than half of landscape architects worked for architectural and engineering services, which paid an average of $68, 940 per year. The BLS doesn't report salaries separately by the highest degree earned.
The highest-paying location nationwide for landscape architects was the District of Columbia, according to the 2012 BLS survey. Average wages in D.C. were $85, 890 per year, but the district had only 70 landscape architecture jobs. In California, the second highest-paying state, wages averaged $83, 190 annually, while Massachusetts came in third at $81, 450 per year. California also had 2, 320 jobs, the highest employment for landscape architects among the states.
Jobs for landscape architects will increase 16 percent between 2010 and 2020, predicts the BLS, only slightly faster than the 14 percent average for all jobs. Concerns about sustainability and the environment will help increase employment for landscape architects. Although the BLS expects good prospects overall, the competition for positions at top firms will be keen. Architects with internship experience, an understanding of environmental laws and good technical and communication skills will have the job market advantage.