Insight Blog

Would Earning LEED-AP Benefit Your Career?

by Sami Barry

Sustainability and green building have become popular trends within the construction, design, and facilities sectors. Along with their growth, the U. S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED program has expanded in its awareness and usage. There is no denying that LEED is changing the way buildings are designed, built, operated, and maintained. Its benefits are clear and proven regarding cost savings, energy conservation, reduced water consumption, and improved indoor air quality.

Due to the impact that LEED has had and is having upon construction, design, and facilities management, many professionals involved in these sectors choose to enhance their careers by earning LEED accreditation. After all, LEED has become an industry standard and has instant recognition.

If you are exploring the value of earning LEED – Accredited Professional (LEED AP) certification within your field of specialty, consider the following benefits:

LEED accreditation will set you apart amongst your peers.

  • You will expand your skill sets and capabilities, enhancing your credibility with clients and employers.

  • You will increase your value in your current position and to your current employer.

  • You will be improve your opportunities for employment and be more marketable to potential employers.

  • The USGBC offers many different LEED credentials and your profession will dictate which certification is best for you.

LEED Green Associate

  • Purpose: Shows basic knowledge of green design, construction, and operations.
  • Applicable to: Professionals in real estate, law, planning, manufacturing, marketing, leasing, sales, and education.
  • To maintain this certification, a professional must earn 15 continuing education hours every two years.


  • Purpose: All LEED AP designations affirm advanced knowledge in green building and expertise in a particular LEED rating system.
  • To maintain LEED AP certification, a professional must earn 30 continuing education hours every two years.

LEED AP Building Design + Construction (LEED AP BD+C)

  • Purpose: To indicate practical knowledge in the LEED for New Construction, LEED for Schools, and LEED for Core & Shell rating systems.
  • Applicable to: Professionals who focus on the design and construction phases of green buildings within commercial, residential, education, and healthcare sectors.

LEED AP Operations + Maintenance (LEED AP O+M)

  • Purpose: To distinguish professionals who implement sustainable practices, improve performance, increase efficiency, and reduce environmental impact in existing buildings through enhanced operations and maintenance.
  • Applicable to: Professionals involved in the operations and maintenance of buildings and facilities.

LEED AP Interior Design + Construction (LEED AP ID+C)

  • Purpose: To signify practical knowledge in the LEED for Commercial Interiors rating system.
  • Applicable to: Professionals involved in the design, construction and improvement of commercial interiors and tenant spaces that offer healthy, sustainable and productive work environments.


  • Purpose: To show practical knowledge in the LEED for Homes rating system.
  • Applicable to: Professionals involved in the design and construction of healthy, durable homes that use few resources and generate less waste.

LEED AP Neighborhood Development (LEED AP ND)

  • Purpose: To denote practical knowledge of LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system.
  • Applicable to: Individuals involved in the planning, design and development of sustainable, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods.

To consider how earning LEED accreditation could impact your salary, the chart below illustrates the difference in salaries between green building consultants who have LEED AP certification and those who do not. 

LEED Salaries by Region

According to PayScale, salary ranges for other professionals with LEED AP certification are:

  • Construction Project Manager: $50,427 - $103,662

  • Project Architect: $46,792 - $83,596

  • Architect:  $44,101 - $87,057

  • Interior Designer:  $35,080 - $65,143

  • Design Architect:  $43,389 - $87,579

*These numbers are as of 6/6/13 and based on 5,697 individuals reporting. If you are involved in construction, design, or facilities management, earning a LEED AP accreditation could make a positive impact on your career. And now may be the time to do it. Sustainability and green building are going to grow in their popularity to become mainstream as their value becomes increasingly evident.

Sources:  Everblue, PayScale, U. S. Green Building Council