The Work: Draft plans to transform once-polluted mining quarries into amphitheaters, design private marigold gardens and elaborate public hedge mazes, and work to preserve historically significant tracts of land. "It's where biology and aesthetics intersect," notes Jane Amidon, co-owner of the Colorado-based Land Art Studio. "We shape a living medium."
Time Outside: 30-75 percent.
Payback: Though apprentices may start as low as $20,000, the typical midcareer salary hovers around $52,000. A principal in a corporate firm, with 15 to 20 years of experience, can top $100,000.
Prerequisites: Earning your green thumb in a nursery or pruning hedges as part of a landscaping crew will give you a taste for the business, but eventually you'll have to hit the books. Cornell (607-255-5241; www.cornell.edu) offers master's and Ph.D. programs. So does Harvard (617-495-2573; www..gsd.harvard.edu/GSDdep.html), which also runs a six-week Career Discovery seminar in landscape architecture every summer. Then get certified: The Council of Landscape Architects Registration Board (703-818-1300; www.clarb.org) administers three-day standardized tests across the country for advanced-degree holders.
Networking: Check out the nationwide job-link service of the American Society of Landscape Architects (800-787-2752; www.asla.org).
Peon to Pro: Three years from apprentice to licensed architect. Orchestrate a logistically tricky overseas project in Europe or Asia and your stock will skyrocket.
Drudge Factor: Wrangling with the EPA over water zoning, the local design review board over historical authenticity, and your own computer over 3-D modeling.
Outlook: The profession is blossoming: The U.S. Department of Labor forecasts a 21-percent growth rate through 2006.