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Horticultural Technician


Description

Horticultural technicians 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.

Horticultural technicians can make a living in a wide variety of ways. 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/or researchers on maintenance crews for landscape architects, lawn care services, and botanical gardens, giving advice about plants and plant care.

Some horticultural technicians 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 horticultural technicians will work outside with the plants on maintenance crews or with landscape architects and certified horticulturists during warmer months, and then move inside to work in nurseries, botanical gardens, or as consultants during the winter months.

Whatever their specialty, horticultural technicians 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 horticultural technician 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:
n/a
 
Median Salary:
$28,579
 
Highest 10% of Earners:
n/a

  Interests and Skills  
Thinking about a career in horticulture? First of all, you need to love plants and gardening, and be interested in the science involved in plant production and development. You should be organized, responsible, and physically fit, as well as have an artistic flair and a creative outlook. You should be a good communicator who works well alone and in a team, a communicator who gives and follows orders well. You should also be interested in ecological conservation.
 

  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, often in a lab
  • 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 horticultural technician will depend on where they work. But all horticultural technicians, 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 horticulture scientists, 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  
  • Horticultural technicians 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, nursery or lab. They may work in rain, or extreme heat. Those involved in active planting and maintenance 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. They may work late or on weekends if there is an emergency or rush order to be filled.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Horticultural technicians can move up to supervisory positions, or go back to college and become certified horticulturists. They can start up a maintenance business, nursery, or an import/export company. Horticultural technicians can also retrain to become arborists, landscape architects and landscape architectural technicians, or urban planners. They can publish articles and write gardening books for amateur gardeners.
 

  Educational Paths  
In order to become certified horticulture technicians need to work in the industry for at least 2,000 hours, and pass a written examination which proves their practical and technical skills and knowledge. They may also take a college course in horticultural technology or horticulture. Most of these college programs are between one and two years, and involve both in-class and on-the-job training.
 

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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