Choosing Wisely

Nov. 1, 2002
The responsibility of designing and rehabilitating a facility's landscaping should be left to the professionals. Here are some skills and requirements to look for.

Landscape architects create areas that are not only attractive, but also functional and compatible with the natural environment. Several distinguishing educational and professional characteristics set these individuals apart.

  • One of the first things to look for in a landscape architect is education. In most cases, landscape architects must have a bachelor's degree in landscape architecture from an accredited college or university to perform entry-level jobs. But education and knowledge are only the beginning of an experienced architect's resume.

  • After completing an undergraduate degree in landscape architecture or a related field, new hires may be called apprentices or intern landscape architects. Their responsibilities and duties will differ depending on the size of the firm. Duties may include project research, or preparation of work drawings, construction documents, or base maps of the area to be landscaped. However, all of the work done by an intern must be overseen and approved by a licensed architect.

  • Usually after three to four years under the supervision of a licensed architect in an internship capacity, a person has sufficient knowledge and experience to take the Landscape Architecture Registration Examination (LARE). Sponsored by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB), the LARE is a three-day examination that, upon passing and meeting all other previously mentioned requirements, enables the candidate to receive a license as a landscape architect. Currently, 45 states and two Canadian provinces require licensure for practice as a landscape architect. States that call for a licensure from the CLARB also vary in their prerequisites. In some states it is permissible for a person to apply for licensure without a degree. In these cases, the years in the field can double those required for people who hold degrees.

  • Some states also require a license from the state, as well as the LARE. Tests for these licenses focus on state laws, environmental regulations, plants, soils, climate and any other characteristics that are unique to the state. Because state specifications are not uniform, landscape architects are required to take a state test for the particular state in which he or she plans to provide services.

Hale, assistant editor of AS&U, can be reached at [email protected].

For more information on locating a landscape architect or landscape architectural firm for your next project, visit the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards at, American Society of Landscape Architects at or the Association of Professional Landscape Designers at For more information on state licensure, contact the state member association.

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