If you have an eye for design and enjoy working outdoors, a career as a landscape designer may be ideal. You’ll need to have some artistic and creative flair, enjoy problem solving and working with people, and be at home in front of a computer screen or working in someone’s backyard. It’s a career that is always in demand, and one that is easy to start out in; you’ll need transportation and some equipment and of course some clients. Many landscapers will tell you that the skills needed are best learned out in the field, rather than in a classroom or online.
In most cases, there are no formal requirements to pursue a career in landscaping, although a minimum of a high school diploma is generally needed. However, you may need to have some sort of knowledge of drainage, horticulture, science and the environment, or ecology and many US colleges offer a degree or certification in landscape technology. The ability to use a range of outdoor electrical tools safely is obviously useful too. And much of your job may be designing how a garden or open space is going to look, meaning that at least a basic grasp of using computing software is needed. Being able to work outside in a variety of weather conditions is also something that a landscape designer may have to do. The work can be physically demanding and can also involve exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.
One appeal of the job is the diversity of the work. Although many landscapers work with homeowners to improve their outdoor space, you may find yourself employed by a nursing home, apartment complex, hospital, school or other large facility. And it’s also possible to practice landscaping on a much larger scale, with many local and state parks employing full time landscapers. If you work on a large project, you may find your role is more to oversee and supervise the project, with much of the actual work carried out by other staff. Almost 10 percent of the approximately 1.2 million landscapers in the US work for state government.
Although as a landscape designer, you may find yourself working for a landscaping company and reporting to a supervisor or manger, it’s also easy to work for yourself as a landscaper. As well as having transportation and equipment, you’ll need to be able to deal with the business and financial side of your business. And of course, marketing your company, attracting new clients and networking are all important for anyone wanting to work for themselves as a landscape designer.