Where to plant yourself for a career in landscape architecture
Landscape architecture is a diverse career amassing knowledge from many other professions. In the course of a day, a landscape architect might need to draw on design, engineering, botany, hydrology, artistry, urban planning, budgeting… and the psychological finesse needed to work with clients and contractors. This wide range of needed skills allows for a lot of flexibility in job title. A degree in the field may be used to find a career in botany or as an urban planner at city hall.
However, many LA graduates do end up hired as landscape architects. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 18,660 LAs, nationwide, in 2018. Self-employed architects, estimated to make up 19–21% of the labor force, are not included in that number.
Slightly more than half of LA employees work for architectural or engineering firms. Although LAs are often mistaken for landscapers, only 13% of LAs are part of landscaping firms. Government and construction jobs make up the rest of the employing organizations.
At first glance, it appears the industry contracted since 2017, since the same BLS survey reported 19,040 working LAs that year. A deeper dive into the data shows this to be a hasty conclusion: five states have data missing in 2018. Additionally, since the base survey does not include self-employed workers, it would falsely interpret LAs starting their own businesses as having left the occupation.
Where landscape architects are being hired
Of states that do report data in both 2017 and 2018, the states reporting growth in employment were:
- New York: 210 new jobs
- Florida: 150 new jobs
- Connecticut: 140 new jobs
The states that reported a shrinking work force were:
- Massachusetts: 210 jobs lost
- Washington: 190 jobs lost
- Ohio: 160 jobs lost
Landscape architect wages, 2017 and 2018
How is compensation in the landscape architecture field growing or shrinking? How does that compare to the national inflation rate of 2.1% in 2017? We look at the growth year over year.
A median wage represents the midpoint in all wages: half of landscape architects make more, and half make less.
- 2018, LA median wage: $68,230.
- 2017, LA median wage: $65,760.
With a median wage increase of 3.76%, one percent above inflation, landscape architects had a little extra in their wallets year over year.
Mean, or average, wages are calculated by summing all wages and dividing by the number of people working. This number is usually slightly higher than the median wage, given the wage gap for late-career and top-of-field earners.
- 2018, LA mean wage: $73,160
- 2017, LA mean wage: $70,880
Nationally the increase in average wages was 3.22%: above the rate of inflation. Although the mean wage appears to be growing slightly slower than the median wage, one year’s trend and some missing state data means it’s unlikely to be significant.
Best and worst paid states
For the states with 2018 data, these are the median and mean wages of the top and bottom three, ranked by median wage.
Rank (by median wage)
District of Columbia
The District of Columbia, California, and Connecticut were also the top three ranked States for landscape architect salaries last year. They saw median wage growth, year over year, of 5.6%, 4.5%, and 3.5% respectively.
Best and worst paid metropolitan areas
Metropolitan areas sometimes have a small number of landscape architects, which can change the overall wage picture. Here we include only the towns where we know the market size, for proper comparison.
Number of LAs in the region
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA
San Fran-Oakland-Hayward, CA
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA
Charleston-North Charleston, SC
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX
Tampa-St. Petersburg- Clearwater, FL
Projections in landscape architecture
Projected job growth for landscape architects over the next decade is 4%, equal to average job growth.
However, landscape architect roles are increasingly important. As flooding situations increase, so does the importance of managing water within cities. Landscape architects are leading the way in balancing permeable hardscape and softscape, designing efficient bioswales and raingardens, and placing flood-resistant elements at grade. Carbon capture via the healthy management of urban forests is another aspect of current planning that can rely heavily on landscape architects.
Notes on Data:
- Data from Bureau of Labor Statistics, Annual Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2017 and May 2018
- Approximately 19-21% of American landscape architects are self-employed. These architect wages are not captured by the Employment and Wages from Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey.
- Questions? Thoughts? Email us at [email protected]