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Horticulturist


Description

Horticulturists know everything there is to know about plants. From ferns to flowers, tomato plants to trees, these trained experts know about it all. They can grow it, heal it, transplant it, and analyze it in a lab, all in the name of beauty and environmental health.

Horticulturists can make a living in a wide variety of ways. They may work in laboratories, conducting plant analyses and experiments. They may work in or run a nursery, nurturing plants to be used in landscaping, sold in retail garden centers, and planted in municipal parks and private gardens. They also work as consultants and on maintenance crews for landscape architects, lawn care services, and botanical gardens, giving advice about plants and plant care. Sometimes, creative and highly skilled horticulturists may become designers, building and looking after gardens for a number of different clients. These horticulturists may use plants, soil, stone, timber and ponds to create an enchanting garden for homeowners and businesses.

Some horticulturists focus on the science of plants, and work as researchers and technical advisors to farmers and other growers, concentrating on specific areas, such as tree disease, or exotic flowers.

Some horticulturists will work outside with the plants on maintenance crews or with landscape architects during warmer months, and then move inside to work in nurseries, botanical gardens, or as consultants during the winter months. A horticulturist with more education has more opportunities for off-season work, and advancement to positions with more responsibility.

Whatever their specialty, horticulturists need to be fit, patient, and willing to work alone, or in small teams. They can apply their scientific knowledge to a variety of work environments, and a motivated horticulturist can find work in any number of exciting locations, with many types of plants. They will always find ways to bring plants to people for beauty and health.
 
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  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
$28,750
 
Median Salary:
$48,670
 
Highest 10% of Earners:
$85,460

  Interests and Skills  
Horticulturists have a love of plants and gardening as well as interest in conservation. They need to be organized, responsible, and physically fit, as well as have an artistic flair and a creative outlook. They are good communicators who work well alone and as part of a team. A head for math, and good customer service skills are important especially for those who want to run their own business.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Maintaining plants in nurseries, indoor gardens, or outside by watering, pruning, fertilizing and digging
  • Analyze soil, leaves, flowers and trunks for signs of disease
  • Meet regularly with clients
  • Keep detailed reports about jobs and/or plant progress
  • May see to administrative duties of own shop or nursery
  • Supervise horticultural technicians
  • Continually study to learn about the evolution of the science
  • A typical day for a horticulturist will depend on where they work. But all horticulturists, from nursery owners to those who work in a consulting firm will have exposure to plants, plant diseases, and plant care. They will spend much of their time digging, fertilizing, and watering plants in their care, as well as traveling to and from various work sites. They may spend some of each day in meetings with other horticulturists, clients, and landscape architects, or consulting with government agency and company representatives, depending on their level of training and position within their company.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Horticulturists work in a variety of settings, depending on their training and place of employment, but they will all spend some of their time among plants and trees, either outdoors or inside a walled garden or nursery. They may work in rain, or extreme heat. Those involved in active planting and care work long hard hours in the summer, and can get time off during the winter months. These workers are often employed by landscape architectural firms, governments, public park and recreation departments, and large companies and institutions with extensive grounds.
  • The horticulturists who work for retail garden centers, or nurseries, or work as consultants and/or researchers on maintenance crews for botanical and horticultural gardens, work more regular hours, unless there is an emergency or rush order, which may mean the horticulturists work overtime.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Horticulturists can move up to supervisory positions, or open their own maintenance business, nursery, or import/export company. Horticulturists can also train to become arborists, landscape architects and landscape architectural technicians. They can publish articles and write gardening books for amateur gardeners, become arborists, or urban planners.
 

  Educational Paths  
In order to work as a horticulturist, you will need a community college diploma in horticulture, or a university degree in botanical research, landscape architecture, or horticulture. There are also courses available through horticultural professional associations, botanical gardens, and private schools. However, any advancing to supervisory or management positions will usually require a university degree.

Horticulturists can often upgrade and get more courses while working, to enable them to use pesticides, herbicides, and learn more about plant and insect disease.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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