A landscape architecture career carries with it numerous advantages and disadvantages. In fact, some of the advantages and disadvantages overlap as the field requires a successful architect to constantly balance creative vision with practical needs. Ultimately a potential landscape architect must decide if his personality, drive and thought processes are suited to the career.
A successful career in landscape architecture requires at least a bachelor's degree, and, depending upon your desired career, a master's degree. Potential architects may choose between a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture or a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture degree program in college. Students without access to grants, scholarships or educational savings accounts may find financing an undergraduate and graduate degree difficult without acquiring student loan debt which can become a disadvantage. However, if the degree is successfully obtained and a landscape architecture position acquired, the student loan debt should be manageable and the overall career is thus an advantage. As of May 2008, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the median earnings of a landscape architect as $58,960.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately 21 percent of landscape architects are self employed. If being your own boss is a life goal, landscape architecture provides a good way for you to indulge this desire while utilizing your original degree.
The benefits of self employment also bring a few difficulties and additional responsibilities, however. You become solely responsible for paying your social security and Medicare taxes and funding health insurance plans and retirement accounts. You must also purchase business insurance to cover potential client property damage, personal injury or business equipment losses. While many of these expenses become partial or total tax deductions when filing an income tax return, the upfront costs can be overwhelming until your business has a steady stream of clients and revenue.
Landscape architecture is a varied field. On one hand, it allows a person a great deal of creative expression. The landscape architect chooses how to arrange parking lots, main buildings, accessory buildings, roads, garden spaces, fountains and other decorative elements on a client's building site.
A disadvantage to the design freedom the landscape architect may enjoy is the logistical decisions behind each creative decision. The architect must fully assess a building site and can only make a creative decision after assessing key features of the property such as its landscape, topography and drainage capabilities. Hills may need to be leveled and valleys filled. The architect must be prepared to factor in all aspects of a project.
Customer interactions may be an advantage one day and a disadvantage the next. Your clients will not hold back praise or criticism when viewing your initial design ideas or the finished project. If you cannot handle criticism well or would prefer to keep client interaction to a minimum, a self-employed landscape architecture career may not be for you. Instead, seek out a firm position that allows you to report to a supervisor who will provide pointed suggestions and critiques based on fact, not preference.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that landscape architecture employment opportunities will increase up to 20 percent by 2018. Entering a career with such a large projected increase in employment is a definite advantage for anyone pursuing a degree in Landscape Architecture.