Architect / Engineer / Landscaper Jobs

In the National Forest Service, architects, engineers and landscape architects work in a variety of environments, from offices and laboratories to lakes, mountains, forests and grasslands. They all answer the unique challenges posed by such a huge diversity of environmental conditions. Because the national service lands are meant to be protected and conserved, they also deal with the issues surrounding structural design and construction in an entirely different way than designers working in an urban area might.

Protecting watersheds, streams and wildlife habitats is just as important as serving the structural and recreational needs of the people who use the forest lands.

Stretching from the Pacific seashores to the Atlantic coastline, the national forest lands encompass some of America’s most spectacularly beautiful and historic natural areas. To keep these lands as undisturbed as possible, architects, engineers and landscape architects work all of their projects in collaboration with foresters, wildlife and recreation specialists, soil experts, geologists, land surveyors and natural resource managers. If you’re looking for individual fame and glory, the National Forest Service may not be the place for you. In this job, each and every project is the result of an interdisciplinary team effort, but many find that creating designs that fit the needs of a project while keeping the natural beauty and resources of the land intact makes for a challenging and satisfying career.

FACT! Besides housing over 10,000 Chiricahua leopard frogs and the largest lake in Arizona, the Tonto National Forest also boasts the nation’s most extensively solar powered campground, with solar powered showers, sinks and toilets.

Job Descriptions

Although architects, engineers and landscape architects technically specialize in different design and building aspects, in reality their work often overlaps.

  • Architects oversee the planning, design and construction of all types of forest service buildings. Those buildings include offices, barracks, bunkhouses, warehouses, ranger stations, shops, fueling stations, nurseries and winter plant storage facilities.
  • Engineers provide design expertise for the construction and maintenance of many diverse facilities, including building structures, waste systems and waste-water facilities, cable systems, boat docks and launches, roads, foot and traffic bridges, trails and historic sites. They assist natural resource managers in developing solutions to such challenges as aquatic organism passage, habitat protection, and connectivity, as well as range, minerals and timber management. Forest service engineers work with cutting edge equipment and techniques.
  • Landscape architects work in collaboration with civic, advocacy and conservation groups, as well as local, state and federal officials. They work to develop land use plans, resource allocations and a wide variety of natural resource projects.

Most of the time, employees in these positions work out of the Denver Service Center, which manages park planning, design and construction. Candidates should apply by writing or calling:

Denver Service Center
National Park Service Personnel Office
12795 W Alameda Parkway
P.O. Box 25287
Denver, CO 80225-0287
(303) 969-2799

FACT! A full-sized tree in full leaf can “lift” over a ton of water from the soil each day. Most of this water is returned to the air through a process called transpiration. On the same day, the tree may return several hundred gallons of water to the air in a process called transpiration, cooling the surrounding air as much would six air conditioning window-units.

Education and Pay

To work as an architect, engineer or landscape architect in the forest service, you must have completed a degree program from an accredited higher learning institution in the field you are applying to. Alternatively, you may be currently enrolled in such a degree program, and substitute one year of previous work experience in the field for each year short of graduation.

Forest service salaries for architects, engineers, and landscape architects are competitive with the local rates of pay for such positions. Applicants fresh out of college are hired as trainees at the grades 5-7 of the General Schedule (GS) category of the Federal Wage System. After two years, they move into journeyman-level positions and are typically promoted to GS grade 9-11, earning several dollars per hour more.

Quick Summary:

  • Architects, engineers and landscape architects work collaboratively with foresters, wildlife and recreation specialists, soil experts, geologists, land surveyors and natural resource managers.
  • Architect, engineer or landscape architects must have completed a degree program from an accredited higher learning institution.
  • Employees in these positions typically work out of the Denver Service Center, which manages park planning, design and construction.
  • College graduates with little or no experience are hired as trainees at a lower pay grade, and then promoted to journeyman status, and a higher pay grade, after two years of service.
  • Forest service architects, engineers and landscape architects typically earn between $20 and $25 per hour.
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