horticulture

How To Kick Start a Career In Gardening

Are you a gardening fanatic? Do you want to turn your passion into your career? Here, alongside garden plants suppliers Dobies of Devon, we have listed some of the best career routes you could choose.

Garden nursery assistant

As a garden nursery assistant, you would be tasked with ensuring the growth of plants in garden centres and nurseries. You will also have to advise and serve any customers visiting these types of facilities.

Entry requirements

There aren’t any set entry requirements in order to become a garden nursery assistant. However, most employers will expect you to have a keen interest in both horticulture and plants. While not essential, experience and/or qualifications in the horticulture, gardening or retail industries will also be helpful.

Essential skills

  1. Customer service skills
  2. Skills with handling payments
  3. Teamworking skills

What to expect: day-to-day duties

  • Loading and unloading any deliveries
  • Feeding plants
  • Pruning plants
  • Shaping plants
  • Spacing plants
  • Watering plants
  • Weeding plants
  • Potting seedlings
  • Monitoring the health and quality of plants
  • Re-stocking plant displays
  • Serving customers

Expected salary

To begin with, this role will offer a wage of approximately £13,000 to £16,000. This can rise to between £17,000 and £19,000 when experienced and possibly if made a supervisor.

Jobs available*

According to Indeed, there are currently has 160 jobs related to the search ‘Garden Nursery Assistant’ — check them out here.

Horticultural worker

Horticultural workers are tasked with growing and selling plants in a garden centre. They must also tend to plants that are found in gardens and parks.

Entry requirements

While there are no specific requirements necessary to pursuing a career in this field, skills and experience in farming, forestry and gardening could be helpful. You may also require a HND or a degree in horticulture if you are looking for a job in an area such as plant science and will need to work in food development.

Essential skills

  1. Practical skills
  2. Customer service skills (if intending to work at a garden centre)
  3. Money handling skills (if intending to work at a garden centre)
  4. Maths skills (for certain roles)
  5. Science skills (for certain roles)

What to expect: day-to-day duties

  • Sow seeds.
  • Plant bulbs.
  • Plant ornamental plants.
  • Grow plants from cutting and through the use of grafting.
  • Feeding, pruning, spraying, watering and weeding plants.
  • Mow grass, as well as cut dead growth and branches and undertake general tidying around the space.
  • Lay paths and look after any ornamental features found along the route.
  • Research new strains of seed and plants
  • Pick, sort and package produce so that it is ready to be sent to retailers
  • Sell plants and other produce.
  • Advise customers.

Expected salary

You can expect a starting wage of between £13,000 and £19,000 in this field. It will then rise to between around £20,000 and £30,000 when you gain more experience — possibly more if made a manager.

Jobs available*

Currently, on Indeed, there are 60 jobs related to the search ‘Horticultural Worker’ — check them out here.

Horticultural manager

As a horticultural manager, you will be tasked with growing plants in a commercial environment so that they can be used in gardens, parks and public places.

Entry requirements

To become a horticultural manager often requires a higher education qualification. Therefore, relevant qualifications including bachelor’s degrees, foundation degrees and HNDs in horticulture or horticultural management are required.

It’s also possible for those who started their career as a horticultural worker to become a horticultural manager role when they have gained experienced and appropriate qualifications.

Essential skills

  1. Organisational skills
  2. Planning skills
  3. Record keeping skills
  4. Budgeting skills
  5. Negotiation skills
  6. Management skills

What to expect: day-to-day duties

  • Manage plant cultivation and maintenance at a commercial horticulture company. This could include producing ornamental plants that are then sold to garden centres, nurseries, retailers, wholesalers or the public.
  • Manage plant cultivation and maintenance at a garden centre.
  • Manage plant cultivation and maintenance at a park or public garden. This could include designing, constructing and maintaining the upkeep of planted areas.
  • Manage plant cultivation and maintenance at a company that produces fruit and vegetables to sell to retailers or wholesalers.

Expected salary

A salary in the region of £18,000 and £22,000 is expected as a starter. This could increase to between around £30,000 and £40,000 when gaining more experience — possibly more if made a senior manager.

Jobs available*

According to a search on Indeed, there are currently 220 jobs related to the search ‘Horticultural Manager’ — check them out here.

Horticultural therapist

To be a horticultural therapist means you’ll use your gardening skills to improve the health and wellbeing of their clients.

Entry requirements

One of the sole requirements to becoming a horticultural therapist is that you’ll need Disclosure and Barring Service clearance due to the role requiring you to work with vulnerable people.

Although it’s not essential, it will be helpful if you also have a background in nursing, occupational therapy, social care and teaching. A qualification in social and therapeutic horticulture will also prove beneficial to this role.

Essential skills

  1. Practical skills in gardening
  2. Practical skills in horticulture
  3. Teaching skills for a wide variety of abilities

What to expect: day-to-day duties

  • Develop the practical and social skills of clients, as well as their confidence and self-esteem.
  • The ability to adapt projects to meet the needs of clients.
  • Teaching or re-educating clients about basic skills, such as literacy and numeracy.
  • Provide outdoor activity and exercise with the aim of restoring a person’s strength and mobility following an injury or bout of illness.
  • Support clients who are undertaking horticultural qualifications.
  • Manage both staff and volunteers.
  • Draw up proposals for projects.
  • Set out any training and work programmes as required.
  • Apply for funding.
  • Work with a wide variety of clients, who could include:
  • Elderly people
  • Offenders and ex-offenders
  • People recovering from drug or alcohol abuse
  • People recovering from major injuries or illnesses
  • People with learning difficulties
  • People with mental health problems
  • People with physical disabilities
  • Professionals such as psychologists and social workers.

Expected salary

Pursuing a career at entry level will offer you a starter wage in the region of £17,000. This can rise to £25,000 when experienced and £30,000 once highly experienced.

Jobs available*

Indeed currently only has one job related to the search ‘Horticultural Therapist’ — check it out here.

Landscaper

Being a landscaper means you have to create and maintain gardens, parks and various other types of both outdoor and interior spaces.

Entry requirements

This main requirement to pursuing this job type is knowledge and experience in horticulture.

Essential skills

  1. Being able to work with garden design drawings
  2. Business skills (especially if deciding to become self-employed)
  3. Organisational skills
  4. Practical skills

What to expect: day-to-day duties

  • Conversations with clients where their needs are discussed.
  • Conversations with clients where advice is given about how a space can be looked after.
  • Carrying out work based on plans set out by garden designers and landscape architects.
  • Order supplies.
  • Prepare an interior space or ground ahead of landscaping work.
  • Turf and seed lawns
  • Plant and prune both trees and shrubs.
  • Install paths, paving, rock gardens and water features.
  • Provide on-going maintenance.

Expected salary

The starting salary for a landscaper is likely to be in the region of £16,000 and £20,000. You can expect this to rise to £24,000 when you gain experience and £30,000 once highly experienced. Of course, self-employed landscapers have the opportunity to set out their own rates. The average salary for landscaper jobs, according to Totaljobs, is £23,471.

Jobs available*

Indeed currently has 357 roles relating to the search ‘Landscaper’ — check them out here.

Tree surgeon

Being a tree surgeon will see you undergo a lot of tasks, including hazard assessments, planting, felling, care and maintenance.

Entry requirements

You can pursue a career as a tree surgeon without any experience, but it is highly valued.

Essential skills

  1. Ability to use chainsaws safely and effectively
  2. Ability to use harnesses safely and effectively
  3. Ability to use ladders safely and effectively
  4. Ability to use ropes safely and effectively
  5. The ability to read a map
  6. Ability to understand plans related to the arrangement of trees

What to expect: day-to-day duties

  • Assess any hazards posed by trees.
  • Assess the health of trees.
  • Assess the treatment of trees.
  • Plant trees.
  • Fell trees.
  • Prune or remove branches where necessary.

Expected salary

Novices in the trade can expect a salary of £16,000. With experience, you may see your wage rise to approximately £24,000 when experienced and £30,000 once highly experienced.

Jobs available*

There are currently 79 jobs related to the search ‘Tree Surgeon’ in Indeed — check them out here.

Botanist/Plant Biologist

Botanists (otherwise known as plant biologists) study all forms of plant life.

Entry requirements

You will be expected to have a degree in a relevant subject such as botany, ecology, environmental science, plant biology or plant science before pursuing a career as a botanist. A postgraduate qualification — a MSc or a PhD, for example — will also be required if your career path takes you into a research or teaching post.

Essential skills

  1. Problem-solving skills
  2. Practical skills
  3. Research skills
  4. Strong communication skills
  5. Skills in analysing, interpreting and reporting on relevant data

What to expect: day-to-day duties

  • Specialise in the study of all of the following:
  • Biochemistry
  • Ecology
  • Genetics
  • Marine botany
  • Molecular biology
  • Paleobotany
  • Physiology
  • Plant anatomy
  • Specific plant groups
  • Identify, classify, record and monitor plant species.
  • Identify, classify, record and monitor biodiversity.
  • Carry out ecological consultancy work, which will include undertaking surveys and environmental impact assessments.
  • Manage a botanical collection.
  • Search for new species.
  • Study how pollution affects plant life.
  • Identify and then purify chemicals that are produced by plants so that they can be used in products such as building materials, drugs, fabrics, food and solvents.
  • Present results of research in books, journals and at academic conferences.
  • Train and supervise both junior staff and volunteers.
  • Teach at universities.

Expected salary

To start with, you can expect a salary of between £22,000 and £28,500 when pursuing a career as a botanist. You may see this rise to £30,000 when experienced and in a research post, as well as £55,000 once highly experienced and employed as a senior university lecturer.

Jobs available*

Searching for ‘Plant Biologist’ on Indeed currently brings up 15 roles. — check them out here.

Charles Whitworth is the Editor of the Young Academic publications.

Graduating from the University of Liverpool with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism in 2008, Charles learned his trade in newsrooms such as IPC Media and Sky.

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