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is designing landscapes right for me?

If you are already considering landscape architecture studies, use the drop down menu under the students tab above for more information about specific coursework I teach at West Valley College, Saratoga, CA. Within the college, the Cilker School of Art & Design offers programs for students to study environmental design, an interdisciplinary approach to designing places where people live, work, and play.  Students explore sustainable and restorative solutions to today's environmental challenges within our built environments that may include preservation, green initiatives, and resource conservation.

Landscape architecture is a part of the school's architecture program.  You can view my faculty profile here.  Students who sign up for classes will also have access to the college's Architecture Club, which also includes landscape architecture.


One of the fascinating values of landscape architecture is that is attracts people from all walks of life, simply because the profession is stumbled upon, unfamiliar, and misrepresented (not a paid advertisement from this site).  Landscape architecture is confused with other fields, such as garden design, landscape construction, and gardening.  If you are still contemplating your path, see the information below that offers insight into the various fields.

Are you interested in becoming a garden designer or landscape architect?  Maybe you would like to improve your own knowledge about design, so you can refine your garden; perhaps you are interested in horticulture, construction, or planning.  As an associate professor, I observe students contemplating their careers and personal interests, so I hope to provide information here about various professional paths as well as personal pursuits. I have exercised many of these directions before my associate professorship at the college...a combo platter of the dos and don'ts of what I have done over the years.  

Let's start with a few of the basics for quick reference.  First, Draftscapes provides an informative overview of the varying degrees available to both landscape designers and landscape architects, including how the degrees will inform different career paths:

If after watching the above video you feel landscape architecture is right for you, then review the local FAQs from the Department of Consumer Affairs, California Architects Board, Landscape Architects Committee on Becoming a Landscape Architect.  The website notes  various ways to qualify for taking the exams, so please explore this section thoroughly.

As a student of landscape architecture, you are eligible for free membership to the American Society of Landscape Architects, so if you have not already joined, I cannot think of a better time!

Is landscape architecture not quite what you are looking for?  Consider your interests with these alternatives:

Alternative 1: Become a certified landscape designer, which is beneficial to people only interested in residential designs.  You can find out more from the Association of Professional Landscape Designers.  Locally, consider pursuing an associate degree in Environmental Horticulture and Design at Foothill College.

Alternative 2: Become a licensed landscape contractor, where you can design then build your creations.  Consider reviewing available information from the California Landscape Contractors Association.

Alternative 3: Become a Master Gardener as part of the University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.  Foothill College also offers a certificate of achievement for becoming a landscape technician.

Subsequent posts will assist with other career directions or additional information specific for landscape architecture interests.  Whichever way you go, best of luck in your endeavors!

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