WHAT YOU DO: Create natural settings—parks, waterfronts, campuses, parking lots—that are pretty and functional. Increasingly, this means reinventing contaminated sites like old factories and decommissioned mines, often using vegetation and other forms of bioremediation so that sites, in effect, clean themselves. "It requires a new way of envisioning what's possible," says Alan Berger, a professor of landscape architecture at MIT.
WHY NOW: Thanks in part to the boom in restoration ecology and landscape reclamation, the field is expected to add 4,000 new jobs by 2016. "We all got snatched up right out of school," reports one recent grad.
THE NUMBERS: Average compensation in 2006 was $90,000. Hours: 45 to 55 in typical weeks, but for some this can jump to 90-plus close to deadlines.
BREAKING IN: You need a degree in landscape architecture; Harvard, LSU, and the University of Georgia are considered the top grad programs. Most graduates go through a one-to-four-year apprenticeship, then take a registration examination. See the American Society of Landscape Architects (asla.org) and landarchjobs.com.