Simply put, a landscaper earns a living by adjusting earth and water to be more aesthetically pleasing. Someone trained in landscaping might primarily work to improve upon an existing home & garden layout, or they might work in one of the more specialized areas of landscaping. Some of the specialties someone interested in landscaping might choose to pursue would be designing water gardens and fountains (aquascape), installing lawn sprinkler systems and drains (irrigation systems) or designing practical solutions for orchards and farms. Since educational requirements are not particularly strict for someone looking to break into the landscaping business, this might be a good choice for someone wanting to start a new career right away.
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Landscaping is a field that encompasses a great many possible careers. Everything from trimming trees and planting flowers, to building garden structures and installing irrigation, just to name a few. Some landscapers might even work on a larger scale, planning and designing a golf course, for example, would be a job for a landscape architect. Clients in need of landscaping for their new pool or patio, or needing a retaining wall built, will be in touch with a trusted landscaping company.
Large corporations have company grounds to be maintained, schools and universities have campus grounds to keep, cities and towns have public parks that need maintenance and improvements, zoos and theme parks need landscape design solutions too; all of these are potential clients or employers for a landscaper. On a smaller scale, many landscapers earn a living planting seasonal flowers and trimming trees and shrubs. This sort of work doesn't require much equipment or training, so it can be a good stepping stone to a career change, providing an opportunity to get one's feet wet without necessarily quitting the day job.
Generally speaking, a landscaper needs to have a keen interest for imagining and creating scenery. Someone who is interested in planting and maintaining a wide variety of trees and other plants might be well-suited to a career in landscaping. A talent for design and an eye for detail will also be helpful. Landscaping is a career that can be physically demanding as well.
Not all landscapers are business owners, but many are, and managing a small business is another specialty entirely. Frequently, someone interested in becoming a landscaper will work as an apprentice to an established landscaping expert, learning the ropes, before striking out on their own. Lots of education opportunities exist for the ambitious future landscaping technician.
A degree in business, landscape architecture, or horticulture can all help start you down the right path, but ultimately, a successful worker will need to develop skills by watching, learning, and doing. This is a business where practical experience and know-how can be more important than a piece of paper from a university, at least up to a certain point in the career path of a landscaper. In the United States, licensing requirements differ from state to state for working on sprinkler systems, but frequently, certification is a requirement for that particular specialty.
A landscapers "office" might be anywhere from working in someone's backyard trimming trees, to being employed by a corporation with a large campus to maintain. In all likelihood, the workplace of nearly everyone with a career in landscaping will be primarily outdoors. Many landscapers own their own small business, and working from home is common for someone just starting out.
A bootstrapping new landscape worker might apprentice themselves to an experienced landscaper first, perhaps while taking some classes towards an eventual degree. When they're ready to move on to running their own business, one of their first purchases might be their own van or truck and some basic equipment, and then finding a few customers to get things started.
Hours may be long, working weekends and overtime, or they might be nonexistent during the winter months when the landscaping business slows down considerably. Landscaping is not a stress-free job by any stretch, with deadlines and profit margins to keep even the most motivated worker on their toes.
The income range is rather extreme for landscaping, since the field encompasses everything from a highly-educated landscape architect that might earn around $35,000 right out of college and average about $55,000 mid-career, to someone in a managerial position or owning their own successful landscape company earning $75,000 to $100,000 or more. On the other hand, someone wanting to jump into the field with no formal education might earn $20,000 as an apprentice, and $35,000 mid-career. An ambitious and successful landscaper with good business sense, that starts their own landscaping business and builds it up over a number of years, might find that there is no true limit to potential income.