There are some people whose passions or hobbies define them—for example, “dog people” or “boat people.” But “plant people” are often the most hidden kind, tucked away in backyards, obsessively testing soil and talking to plants as if they were their children.
Rather than “wacky neighbor too attached to his gardening hose,” the polite term for those in love with plants is Horticulturist. If you’re one those people whose feelings for plants have crossed the line from interest to love, consider getting one of these seven horticulture jobs. You’re guaranteed to spend your days buried in dirt and seeds, making the world a little greener.
1. Plant Pathologist — You can tell that a person is sick when they complain and collect Kleenex by their bed. Plants, however, don’t give off as many signs. As a Plant Pathologist, you’re a plant Doctor figuring out what’s wrong through experiments and investigations of the diseases affecting plants and the people who eat them.
2. Nursery Worker — Like a Nursery School Teacher, you care for and keep track of your charges. In this type of nursery, however, those charges are plants, not children. You grow, water, medicate, and sell plants of all kinds.
3. Plant Care Worker — Sort of like a Gardener, you grow and care for the plants in your client’s gardens. You protect against diseases and bugs, and, in general, keep everything fresh as a daisy.
4. Horticultural Consultant — Your job is to give advice on pretty much anything that goes in the ground. This can mean discussing fertilizer with a Farmer or suggesting new golf course grass with a Landscape Architect.
5. Ornamental Horticulturist — You make things beautiful by creating flower arrangements or bunny-shaped shrubs. Employed everywhere from flower shops to landscaping firms, you use plants to decorate.
6. Horticultural Technician — Call it plant parenting or plant nursing. Either way, this botany job is all about caring for plants. You water, care for, and help plants grow everywhere from nurseries to botanical gardens.
7. Horticultural Therapist — You’re a Therapist, which means you help people who are suffering from mental illness or severe trauma get better. Unlike an Art Therapist or Dance Therapist though, you use plants and gardening to help your patients.
But then, part of the beauty of horticulture as a career option is that it lets you carve out a niche that meets your own talents and aspirations, whatever they are.
There is a wide range of career paths available in horticulture. Here, six people explain what led them to theirs
- Careers in our gardens
- Growing the next generation of gardeners
- Working in partnership to develop horticultural careers
- Gardening vacancies
- Volunteering in gardens
- GROW careers initiative
- 7 jobs for people who have green thumbs
- Facilities manager
- Garden center employee
- Landscape architects
- Turf management
- Ready to make some green? Do this next
- 11 Of The Best Nature Jobs For Outdoor Enthusiasts
- 1. Tree planter
- 2. Conservation Scientist
- 3. Geologist
- 4. Zoologist/Wildlife Biologist
- 5. Botanist
- 6. Park Ranger
- 7. Archaeologist
- 8. Landscape Architect
- 9. Organic Farmer / Urban farmer
- 10. Photographer
- 11. Reforestation
David Mills, groundsman, John Lyon School, Middlesex:
David Mills got into groundscare later in life, but is now making up for lost time.
He explains: “I worked for six years as an operations manager, but after travelling for a year I was looking for something new.
“I wanted to work in sport – I still play football for a county side, and coach cricket at the school – so I like to see a well-prepped pitch.”
Mills has combined on-the-job learning with training on specific topics such as turf management and spraying at Oaklands College in St Albans. “My boss has been in the game for 24 years though, so I learned a lot from him,” he adds. “You get a great sense of freedom doing this, especially in summer. I couldn’t think of anything worse than going back to office work.”
Paddy Faircloth, Faircloth Forestry:
Paddy Faircloth has combined a love of outdoor work with an entrepreneurial flair to create a tailor-made career for himself in tree surgery and woodland management.
Having gained a National Certificate in Arboriculture while working as an apprentice, he trained as a practical instructor at Bicton College in Devon, setting up his own company in 2005.
“I took a different route from most of my friends, but unlike them I have no student loans,” he says.
“I keep training as I don’t want to stop learning. I am now doing a Degree in Forestry through distance learning, as well as training in tree consultancy at Westonbirt Arboretum. My plan is to work as a woodland consultant, with a team to do the tree work for me.”
Isobel Blackwell, retail manager, Birmingham Botanic Garden:
Isobel Blackwell worked for a department store for 16 years then for a charity for three years. When she was made redundant, she applied to work at the garden centre adjoining Birmingham Botanic Gardens last year.
“I do all the buying, which means going to trade shows like Glee, Spring and Autumn Fair and Harrogate for Christmas stock,” she says. “But I also unload and display stock, and serve customers. I like meeting people, and it is a nice environment here.”
She has already started to bring her vision to the garden centre. She explains: “We’d like to supply plants that are peculiar to Birmingham Botanic Gardens, along with gifts for the day tripper and, because we’re an educational charity, educational toys.”
Nick Lightfoot, head gardener, The Vyne, Hampshire:
Not everyone enters horticulture straight from school or college. Nick Lightfoot was an archaeologist before joining the National Trust. He has since become manager of the Trust’s garden at The Vyne historic estate near Basingstoke.
“I was working on short jobs such as new supermarkets, moving around a lot, between periods on the dole,” he says. “But I’d always been interested in gardening. My grandfather was a professional gardener and my father a keen amateur. I started volunteering at Thornton Manor (a historic estate in Cheshire) and took it from there.
“What I love about the job is the variety. Not only is the work in the garden very varied, but there are lots of other jobs that form part of engaging with people, from preparing leaflet guides to organising Easter egg trails. You have to be a Jack-of-all-trades, but that makes it all the more fun.”
Jemma Bryant, director, Bryants Nurseries, Hertfordshire:
Jemma Bryant was recently made a director of her family’s firm. But she admits that following in the footsteps of her father and grandfather wasn’t always her intention.
“I actually studied travel and tourism at college, and only got interested in horticulture afterwards,” she says. “It grows on you, especially once you have your own garden.
“At first I worked in HR and payroll at the nursery, and that evolved into sales, and scheduling the growing. Orders for young vegetable plants have tripled in the past year, and we can turn those around in three weeks.
“I also love going to the flower trials in different parts of Britain and Holland, where new varieties are launched. This season I will be working with our new sales manager to look at the mix of bedding plants we grow. There’s a lot more to it than just sticking a plant in a pot.”
Steven Hunter, garden design student, Edinburgh:
After completing a National Certificate in Horticulture at Elmwood College in Fife, Steven Hunter then enrolled on a Higher National Certificate, followed by a Higher National Diploma in garden design at the Scottish Agricultural College in Edinburgh.
“I’ve done various jobs, and always liked working with my hands,” Hunter says. “But I want to do high-end, high-quality projects, so I extended my course from one to three years. I’m studying full time, and working in a pizza restaurant as my student loan isn’t quite enough.”
Before graduating, he will have worked as construction manager for a garden at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show – it’s the first time that a team from a Scottish college has entered the prestigious event. “When we’re finished, we’d like to set up in business together, offering a garden design-and-build service,” Hunter adds.
Careers in our gardens
We look after some of the most important and ground-breaking landscape parks and gardens in Britain. These contain the works of major garden designers in history, including William Kent, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, Gertrude Jekyll and Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe.
Our gardens also showcase examples of every development in British garden design from Elizabethan to the modern styles.
Covering an area the size of Guernsey, our 200 gardens and 100 landscape parks support a vast range of historically and botanically important plants collected over the last 400 years from around the world.
All of these gardens require our gardening teams to have specific knowledge and skills applicable to different historic gardening styles, and we’re committed to developing the people and skills to look after these special places.
Growing the next generation of gardeners
Launching in September 2017, the National Trust is piloting new Horticultural Apprenticeships under the Government Trailblazer scheme.
During their work-based, salaried placements, each apprentice will be hosted by a National Trust garden, gaining crucial knowledge and experience in heritage and biodiversity, alongside general gardening skills.
As well as on the job training, the apprentices will take part in five week-long training courses at Pershore College, Worcestershire, as they work towards Level 2 qualifications.
Applicants don’t need any previous qualifications, just a passion for gardening.
For more details or to apply, please visit: http://www.nationaltrustjobs.org.uk/jobs/
Working in partnership to develop horticultural careers
Since 2015 we’ve been working in partnership with the Historic and Botanic Garden Trainee Programme (HBGTP) run by English Heritage to recruit and train the gardeners of the future.
The placements are full-time salaried positions and include garden visits, guided research and plantmanship training.
The two-year course offers practical skills training and includes studying for the Royal Horticultural Society Diploma in Horticulture, Level 3.
During their placement, the HBGTP trainees benefit from a structured learning programme and are assigned a supervisor and a mentor to guide and support their practical training. Our trainees keep a technical diary and undertake research projects and weekly plant identification tests.
HBGTP trainees receive a full-time employment contract with their garden, which pays no less than the National Minimum Wage.
The two-year programme also includes registration with Capel Manor College to undertake the RHS Diploma in Horticulture Level 3. This includes four intensive study blocks at Wrest Park, Bedfordshire. In addition, there are two skills certificates and an extra Historic Gardens module.
We’ll be recruiting new trainees in February 2018, due to start in September 2018.
Trust gardeners have the privilege of working in some truly inspiring gardens and designed landscapes, filled with plants and history. We offer many incentives to our staff – a great salary, pension benefits, generous holidays – but working for the Trust is about so much more.
Our gardeners engage and inspire visitors, sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm. If you think you’d like to work as a gardener for the Trust, have a look to see if we have any vacancies. If you’ve got the right qualifications and experience for a role, we’d love to hear from you.
Volunteering in gardens
We’re always looking for people to help us in our gardens on a voluntary basis and we have roles for all ages and abilities. You might be looking to gain practical experience of gardening, learn some new skills, meet people or just get some exercise in a beautiful environment. From helping us research or map our gardens and record our plant collections, right through to hands–on weeding and digging, there’s something for everyone to do. Why not get in touch with your local property to see what opportunities are available locally? We also have volunteering groups and working holidays, both of which offer garden projects too.
GROW careers initiative
The National Trust for Scotland supports GROW – an online resource that offers advice for anyone considering a career in horticulture. The website provides helpful information and guidance, whether you’re interested in garden design, plant science, tree surgery or groundskeeping.
Visit the GROW website to learn more and get inspired.
A gardener who had worked on a property for decades was let go when it was taken over by the National Trust because he did not have the necessary qualifications.
The gardener worked for the previous occupants of Shute Barton, a house in Devon which has been owned by the Trust since the 1950s, for around 30 years, until 2009.
The medieval house is the ancestral home of the Pole family, and was last home to former newspaper executive Christopher Pole-Carew and his wife Gillian.
But when the couple, who are now in their 80s, gave up their right to live there in 2009, the gardener, who did not want to be named, lost his job.
His friend Ann Heath said: “He was doing it for a long, long time before it went over to the National Trust and as soon as they took over they said he couldn’t do it because he didn’t have any degrees or anything.
“He had a ride-on mower that he used to cut the grass and he used to cut back the brambles around the lawn as well, to keep it all tidy.
“Perhaps it was health and safety, but what could you do with a ride-on mower?”
The issue was raised by Daily Telegraph reader Mark Solon, who wrote to the paper saying: “My gardener with over 50 years experience has been told by the National Trust he can no longer cut their grass as he doesn’t have the right qualifications. Perhaps he should have taken a degree.”
Mr Solon added: “Experience is more important that a certificate. My gardener has a profound knowledge of the land gained over 50 years. He can mow a lawn without further study. The National Trust has lost an exceptional practitioner.”
A spokesman for the Trust said: “The National Trust has owned Shute Barton since the 1950s and until 2009 it was leased back to the historic family, who employed their own gardener. Since 2009, after the family decided to give up their right to live in the property, the Trust has managed Shute Barton directly.
“When the Trust took the property on it needed extensive renovations before becoming a holiday cottage in 2010. The Trust decided to use its own garden contractors and gardeners to look after the grounds as the management needs of the garden are different to when it was a family home”.
7 jobs for people who have green thumbs
Cultivate a promising career path.
If you love to work outside and prefer grass and plant life over wall-to-wall carpeting and computer terminals, consider a job in gardening or landscaping. In plenty of instances in these positions, when you dig into your work, you literally dig into your work—but there are also jobs in the industry that don’t involve physical labor, such as landscape design.
Ready to get your hands dirty? Monster rounded up great jobs for gardeners and landscape lovers, using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and PayScale. Stick out that green thumb of yours and apply to some of these jobs for nature lovers.
What you’d do: Arborists care for and maintain trees and shrubs in a designated area, whether that means government, business or private property. Their duties can include planting, trimming and removing trees, making sure they don’t pose a hazard to roads or power lines.
What you’d need: A formal degree is usually not required, though a background or certification in landscape design, horticulture, or arboriculture could help you stand out from other candidates.
What you’d make: $18.83 per hour
Find arborist jobs on Monster.
What you’d do: In the world of plants, botanists are a combination of doctors, researchers, and protectors. The many areas of study that botanists focus on include the life cycle of plants, plants’ relationship to the environment, and the conservation of certain species of plants.
What you’d need: A bachelor’s degree in botany, plant science, plant biology, or general biology is generally required, though a master’s degree and/or PhD is likely necessary in advanced positions.
What you’d make: $49,832
Find botanist jobs on Monster.
What you’d do: People who work as facilities managers may oversee parks, housing developments, or campuses and may also be responsible for structures. The job requires knowledge of a variety of equipment, such as large mowing tractors and special playground water pumps.
What you’d need: A bachelor’s degree in engineering (or a related field) might be required, though some jobs will only ask that you have a high school diploma. Licensing may be required, depending on the kind of work you do. Experience is necessary.
What you’d make: $64,531 per year
Find facilities manager jobs on Monster.
Garden center employee
What you’d do: Gardening center jobs often involve such duties as working with the plants and flowers, helping customers, and maintaining the store and grounds. Hours often vary depending on the season.
What you’d need: No formal education is required, but people who work in garden centers, even in entry-level positions, are expected to have some knowledge about the products they’re selling.
What you’d make: $11.24 per hour
Find garden center jobs on Monster.
What you’d do: People who work as horticulturalists may manage large landscapes or parks, but generally focus more on caring for plants and trees than grass. To work in this position requires strong people management skills as well as a broad knowledge of gardening and plants.
What you’d need: Having an eye for design is also helpful, because you may be making the final decision about what should go where, and which plants grow well together. This job, to many, has been described as a gardener’s dream.
What you’d make: $14.85 per hour
Find horticulturist jobs on Monster.
What you’d do: Landscape architects design gardens, lawns, and other green spaces to meet the needs of the client and match the constraints of the space and climate. It’s physically demanding at times, so you need to have the stamina to see the work through.
What you’d need: Most states require a license, which likely includes a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture and a passing grade on the Landscape Architect Registration Examination.
What you’d make: $65,760 per year
Find landscape architect jobs on Monster.
What you’d do: People who work in turf management or grounds management take care of the turf in stadiums, golf courses, or sports complexes. “There’s a strong need for people who can manage these athletic facilities,” says Cale A. Bigelow, a professor in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Purdue University. For example, even though the golf industry’s growth has slowed and new courses aren’t being built at a rapid pace, the need for people who can manage existing courses remains high. People who have a background in turf management can also work for large lawn and landscape companies that contract their services to maintain decorative lawns for clients such as businesses or college campuses.
What you’d need: No formal education is required, but you may need a license to handle certain pesticides.
What you’d make: $50,310 per year
Find turf management jobs on Monster.
Ready to make some green? Do this next
You may be an ace at getting things to grow, but when it comes time to cultivating new job opportunities, well, that requires more than sunlight and water before things start blooming. Could you use some help finding positions in the gardening and landscape arenas? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you can get job alerts sent directly to you, which saves a huge amount of time normally spent combing through job ads. Monster will weed out the jobs you’re not interested in and help clear a path to a promising career.
Visit Seed Your Future for more career paths and income expectations. In addition, our colleagues at the University of Kentucky have outlined some detailed descriptions of job opportunities available to horticulture graduates.
Links to more information
Career Paths – The American Society of Horticultural Science
Job Openings – The American Society for Horticultural Science
The Land Lovers
Jobs in Horticulture, Inc.
Landscape Industry Careers
11 Of The Best Nature Jobs For Outdoor Enthusiasts
Let’s admit it: working in an office, with the grey cubicles and fluorescent lighting, isn’t for everyone. For those who love getting outside on the weekends, a nature career sounds pretty enticing! But finding jobs for nature lovers isn’t always an easy task.
If you’re the type of person who can’t sit still in front of a computer for 8 hours (who can blame you?) and would rather be exploring the great unknown, then perhaps you’re meant for nature job that will lead you straight into the heart of various beautiful landscapes and remote places. Here are the 10 best careers in nature:
1. Tree planter
Being a tree planter is a fulfilling, though at times a very very difficult job. The days are long, the work is hard, but few things are more rewarding. And if you’re looking for a job in the woods, this is it! While tentree doesn’t currently have any job openings for tree planting, here’s how to get yourself a nature job in the tree planting field. If you’re interested in working for tentree, check out our current job openings.
2. Conservation Scientist
Photo Credit: Vic Garcia
“Conservation science” is basically a fancier term for forestry, a nature career that involves taking care of land and natural resources — and protecting the environment at the same time.
These are the guys who help governments and landowners make decisions on the best and most practical ways to use land, like managing parks, forests, and other natural areas.
They’re similar to, but not the same as, environmental scientists — who are more concerned with the study of air, land, water, and soil, and how they can protect the earth from man-made things like pollution, fracking, or urbanization.
Either way, both nature jobs are a cool way to give back to the earth, while helping out your fellow humans, too.
Related: These are the 5 fastest growing green industries.
If volcanoes, rocks, and the mystery of the ocean floor fascinate you, then geology might be a possibility. Geologists study the materials that make up the earth, applying physics, chemistry, biology, and math to their work.
Companies hire geologists to find and examine mineral deposits, and often send them overseas — so if you love travel (as well as rocks and the earth’s natural formation), this might be for you.
4. Zoologist/Wildlife Biologist
There is perhaps no other nature career that could help you embrace the beauty of nature more than zoology, the study of animals, and how they live and interact within their own ecosystems.
It’s a selfless job that keeps you out in the field (or in the zoo!) and will help you appreciate the world that we share with diverse, fascinating critters, from insects to elephants.
The beauty of nature lies not only in the science of it, but also its inherent art and design. Perhaps this is what attracts people to botany and gardening, or the study and care of plants. Botany is a large field, there are a lot of different jobs working with plants out there.
They’ve been used in medicine, foods, and conservation since the beginning of human existence. Since botany is such a broad field, you can try out different types, like field botany (searching for new plant species), or medicinal botany, in which you would help search for new plants to treat diseases.
6. Park Ranger
Probably one of the coolest nature jobs that exists is being a park ranger. You get to remain outdoors most of the time, assist park guests, search for lost hikers, lead tours, and get to hang out in some of the most beautiful natural parks in the world — surrounded by mountains, preserved lakes and streams, and gorgeous scenery.
As the career of Indiana Jones, archaeology involves solving the mysteries of the ancient world (although it may not be as thrilling and dramatic as Indy’s movies).
Archaeologists examine ancient land sites that were inhabited by people hundreds and thousands of years ago, often in foreign countries, and search for clues to humanity’s past.
8. Landscape Architect
Landscape architects (and some urban designers) get to make the world a better place by planning out areas in cities to build parks and preserve some green and natural beauty.
9. Organic Farmer / Urban farmer
Farming is an obvious one, and also seemingly outdated. But the organic foods industry has grown so much in recent years that more and more organic farmers are taking matters into their own hands and improving the way food is produced in the world.
If you live in a city, have no fear, you can join sustainable urban farms that plant crops on rooftops or in designated parks as a way to bring nature into the concrete jungle.
Travel photographers get to be some of the most free-spirited artists as they move from place to place, searching for the next best sunset, passing portrait, or remarkable moment.
Since photographers aim to document the world, hiding out at home is rarely an option. Getting up and out the door is always the first marker of a wild new adventure for them.
Last but not least, companies and organizations like tentree focus on planting trees in areas that can use the extra oxygen supply, wood for fuel, and the natural beauty of greenery. Tree planting is the ultimate nature career!
Reforestation gets you working in the woods and helps prevent flooding and other negative environmental effects that occur from clearing forests. Just one tree can make the biggest difference — whether for a village or one person — in making the world a better place.