Landscape Architects, when working in private and public organisations, often have various job titles however, in many countries, the same titles (levels) are used to differentiate between the various levels of skills and expertise of a landscape architect. These job titles can differ from firm to firm, this following guide gives an outline of the job titles and the experience and skills of each level; however, it is best when discussing a role (job title) with an organisation to request a position description including the required education, skills, and tasks.
A landscape designer is usually someone who designs landscape projects and has not registered or completed a landscape architecture degree. Some firms use this title for those who have just joined the firm and have a landscape architecture degree but haven’t registered yet. You will report to a landscape architect or other manager.
A landscape engineer is often highly skilled in land forming, grading, and water courses, including construction techniques. Usually, a person takes the role of a civil engineer on landscape projects. This title is often used in the Middle East, Asia and other parts of the world, where there are different regulations on who can design and certify grading.
Graduate Landscape Architect/Landscape Architect Assistant
As the title states, it is someone who has recently graduated with a landscape architecture degree and does not have registration. This job often varies between organisations however, in general, you will be undertaking production work (drafting, models, rendering, materials) on projects through various stages of the project. Often the first one to two years is spent in this role learning about design, materials, and construction techniques. You may report to a senior landscape architect or other managers.
A landscape architect may be registered (depending on the country) and work on various projects, and A landscape architect may be registered (depending on the country), work on various projects, and assist with the design development throughout the project. You may design some part or all of a project, manage the client, and attend construction sites, but that will depend on the size of the firm and the development paths within the organisation. This person often has between one to four years of experience. You may report to someone more senior or another manager.
Senior Landscape Architect
A senior landscape architect has over five years of experience and can design, document, and undertake construction site inspections. You often manage small to medium projects, including clients and allied professionals (sub-consultants) such as Engineers, Architects, Lighting Designers, Irrigation Designers, Ecologists, Horticulturalists, etc.). During this stage of your career, you may also start to specialise in one typology (parks, play, residential) or phase of a project. You may report to someone more senior or another manager.
An Associate has over eight years of experience who is managing a team and several clients and their projects. A highly skilled designer or someone with vast construction knowledge who works with clients and allied professionals to realise the objectives of the project. Associate Landscape Architects will often manage a team that requires good project and people management skills.
Senior Associate Landscape Architect (Associate Director)
Often with over ten years of experience and managing a team or teams in designing projects and managing clients. You will start to work with many clients, and you may be writing proposals, winning work and overseeing projects.
Either someone who has started their own firm or has worked developed their career to become a Director (either in the title or legal company part owner). This person can be managing the whole company or one team or one division depending on the company’s size or type(landscape architecture vs multi-discipline). Othen Principal/Directors are managing the whole company requires a high-level of involvement in winning work, negotiating contracts, managing people (employees, clients, consultants, etc) and relationships. They may spend time designing and working on projects, but many in this position spend the majority of their time managing the company.
These titles and years and expected skills and responsibilities could vary from company to company and are more reflective of private design firms than public or non-profit organisations. To reiterate, the above is only a guide, and you should discuss the job titles with your professional landscape organisation who can assist you with information or a mentor to discuss further. You can also learn about the various positions by reading job advertisements and LinkedIn profiles.
Not all people become Associates or Principals; many remain in the same position for their whole career; this can be due to personal preference, company structure, or skills. Some people can manage projects and clients, and people; not everyone is meant to be a manager you may realise they are happy with one title or a specialist in one area or discipline. There is no one set path for a landscape architect. Many people set out to be an Associate or a Director but find different opportunities along the way. No career path is straight, and your career should be guided by your interests, personal progression, learning, challenges and ambition.
The article was written by Damian Holmes – Founder & Editor of World Landscape Architecture. A registered landscape architect who has worked at various firms in Australia, China and Canada.