Landscape Architecture vs Urban Planning: Career ROI

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Updated: February 28, 2024, Reading time: 8 minutes

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Have you ever wondered about what goes on behind the scenes when building skyscrapers and other infrastructures in our cities? Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning are two of the most important aspects contributing to urban environments’ functionality and aesthetic appeal. 

Landscape architects and urban planners are some of the biggest decision-makers in making our cities more livable and sustainable. These professionals are involved in various pre-development phases and procedures, from conducting site analyses and environmental assessments to engaging with stakeholders and conducting public consultations. 

Although they share the same visions, Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning have different roots. We’re here to briefly explore their unique differences and help you decide which career path you’d like best. 

Grad School Center is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

A Quick Look At the Differences Between Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning

A career in Landscape Architecture entails creating a design plan for an outdoor area to make it more appealing. On the other hand, urban planners are the ones who evaluate the needs of the community, including where it is appropriate for different things to be located.

Here are more details on their differences:

Landscape ArchitectureClinical Psychology
Average Salaries$73,210$79,540
Job Growth (2022-2032)1%4%
Degree/Career FocusImprove the aesthetic appeal of outdoor spaces while considering functionality and sustainability.Guide community development, considering public and environmental welfare while promoting convenience, health, efficiency, and equity.
License/s RequiredLandscape Architect Registration Examination (LARE)None
Education RequiredMaster’s degreeMaster’s degree

What Does a Landscape Architect Do?

What Does a Landscape Architect Do - Image

Landscape architects’ role is to make urban environments appealing to the eyes with function and sustainability in mind using a combination of engineering and art. These artistic professionals use environment-friendly ways to enhance the natural beauty of a space. They’ll be working closely with other professionals and customers from planning to delivery of projects. 

Landscape architects also design the placement of structures, walkways, roadways, bushes, flowers, and trees. They might also create rooftop gardens or “green roofs,” covered in plants and soil, that can collect rainfall, absorb pollutants in the air, cool buildings, and provide beautiful landscapes.

A landscaping architect’s duties include:

Most of a landscape architect’s workday is spent in offices, and the remainder is spent on work sites. To become better in their craft and keep up with industry updates, landscape architects should take advantage of lifelong courses!

Landscape Architecture: Education and Career Path

To become a landscape architect, earn a Bachelor’s or Master’s in Architecture or other closely related fields. Most students start with a bachelor’s in architecture and pursue a master’s degree specializing in Landscape Architecture. Before pursuing any Landscape Architecture program, ensure it is accredited by the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB) to qualify for licensure.

The only people exempt from licensing requirements are those who want to pursue research in Landscape Architecture with no plans of being registered professionals and practicing the profession. 

Landscape Architecture programs teach students technical skills like reading maps, understanding drainage, landscape construction fundamentals, site grading, construction materials, plant characteristics, and site analysis.

Another key component of any Landscape Architecture program is a design studio and hands-on experience that allows students to enhance their practical skills using various design software, such as CADD and model building. 

Upon completing a bachelor’s and master’s degree, you must pass the Landscape Architect Registration Examination (LARE). The specific requirement for licensure varies from state to state. 

Some states offer their registration exam in addition to the LARE to assess knowledge on state-specific topics like hurricanes in Florida or earthquakes in California. Moreover, the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards offers voluntary certification to licensed landscape architects, which may facilitate obtaining a license in another state.

As a licensed professional landscape architect, you can pursue a career specialization. Among the most popular choices are:

A Doctor of Architecture online program may not be required for licensure. This top-level education is ideal for architects seeking to contribute to the field. With a doctorate in their belt, architects also qualify for professional teaching positions in the academe.

Landscape Architecture ROI: Education Cost and Salaries 

The average cost of pursuing a degree in Landscape Architecture is $28,474 annually. If you study in private higher education institutions, you may spend an average of $32,728 annually on tuition and fees alone. The average cost of a master’s degree is $20,513 per year. 

According to the BLS Occupational Handbook, the median annual salary of landscape architects is $73,210, with the highest-paid professionals found in government agencies. There are only about 1,800 job vacancies each year, with slow to no change in the next decade, which makes this field among the most competitive.

A career in Landscape Architecture is for you if:

A career in Landscape Architecture is not a great fit if:

What Does an Urban Planner Do?

What Does an Urban Planner Do - Image

With the growing population in the United States, urban planners are becoming increasingly important today. Urban planners don’t just focus on the aesthetic of a place. Instead, they design land use plans to support population expansion, establish neighborhoods, and rehabilitate infrastructure.

Urban planners have a variety of functions, but their primary goal is to transform urban areas into vibrant, functional communities that can support population expansion and provide comfortable living and working conditions.

Their societal roles are complicated, and they’re often pressured to suggest advantageous plans on short notice. Urban planners need knowledge of laws and regulations to properly work with engineers, politicians, the general public, and property developers.

Moreover, urban planners must know supply networks incorporated into the urban fabric and include things like gas, electricity, drinking water, and sewage.

Urban Planning: Education and Career Path

Urban Planning is a rewarding career, but a lot of education and experience is required before landing a job as a head urban planner. 

Because Urban Planning is a complicated field and requires knowledge of law and regulations, most urban planners pursue a bachelor’s degree in political science, economics, or environmental design. Real estate majors also have the relevant academic background to pursue this field

It’s rare to find Urban Planning degrees at the undergraduate level. A Master’s in Urban Planning or Regional Planning program mainly focuses on international planning and policy related to human settlements. It also includes courses that teach students how to address difficult demographic and environmental concerns. 

Requirements for licensure vary from state to state. Majority of the states do not require professionals to obtain a license to work as an urban planner. However, pursuing certification from the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) will help you stand out in the field and demonstrate your commitment to professional standards. 

Urban planners can choose a specialization and go by the name of:

Urban Planning ROI: Education Cost and Salaries

Undergraduate degrees in the US cost an average of $21,337, while master’s degree tuition costs an average of $12,596 in public institutions and $28,017 for private education.

Urban planners, on average, are paid more than landscape architects. According to BLS, the average yearly pay for urban planners is $79,540. Government agencies offer the highest average salaries, $105,620 per year. The job outlook for this career path is favorable, with employment of urban planners projected to rise by 4% from 2022 to 2032, with 3,700 job openings annually.

A career in Urban Planning Analysis is for you if:

A career in Urban Planning is not a great fit if:

Landscape Architecture vs Urban Planning - fact

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