From creativity to the potential for high earnings, there are many positive aspects of becoming a professional landscaper. However, this field does require a great deal of knowledge and experience if you want to enter the job market and become successful.
Before the creative aspects of landscape design even come into play, you need to know how to work well with clients. As with nearly any creative project, your success almost entirely depends on the satisfaction of the person who is paying you. You’ll need the ability to listen closely to your clients and help them clearly communicate what they are envisioning. You must also be able to realistically evaluate what you are able to create within the client’s budget and work with him/her on their expectations and options.
If you have a passion for design but you don’t have practical experience, you might have trouble getting your foot in the door. In order to work professionally, you should have at least one or two years of outdoor design experience under your belt. If you’re completely new to outdoor design, seek out an internship or an apprenticeship that will give you the hands-on expertise you’ll need in order to build up a list of a projects and clients for your résumé and your references.
Certification and education
All professional landscapers need to be officially certified and most landscapers also hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree in landscape architecture. If you decide to forgo a degree, you’ll likely need to acquire additional hours of experience in order to qualify for your landscaping certification. Each state has individual regulations and you might not always be able to transfer your certification from one state to another. Become familiar with your state’s specific rules and laws before entering a program.
Knowledge of design software
There are a variety of different landscape design software programs out there, from free, entry-level software to more expensive platforms that allow you to complete more advanced work. If you decide to get an advanced education in landscaping, it’s likely you’ll work with some of these programs. However, if you want to forgo a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree, it’s a good idea to develop a familiarity with these programs on your own. These software programs won’t do away with the need for your creativity and vision, but they can help you work more quickly and more efficiently.
Familiarity with equipment
Landscaping requires the use of numerous tools and sophisticated pieces of equipment, some of which require you to obtain individual licenses in order to operate them. Even if you are only completing the design aspects of a project and working with a contracted team for the physical labor, you’ll need to have enough knowledge of the required equipment. Knowing which tools and machines will be needed for a particular job will help you provide detailed and accurate pricing.
If you’re thinking of becoming a landscaper because you’re handy with a lawnmower and your favorite color is green, you might need to seek a different career path. However, if you’re passionate about creating beauty out of greenery and you’re willing to invest in your career, you can gain the business acumen, education, technical knowledge and creative chops to enter a highly rewarding field.