New England is waking up and spring is here. The signs are evident: birds are chirping, perennials are blooming, and all of our allergies are swinging into gear which means … the gardeners and landscapers are preparing for their busy season! Workers in these ‘green’ positions have many things in common: they like the feel of dirt on their hands and sunshine on their backs as they work in the great outdoors, and couldn’t begin to imagine being tied to a desk all day. Does this sound like you? Read on to learn about this field.
Professional gardeners work in private and public landscapes to create, design, maintain and manage gardens. They are often employed by botanical gardens, parks, landscaping firms, garden centers, estates and private residences, and some will go into private business as a gardener for several clients. Professional gardeners are responsible for all aspects of plant care for annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs. Working outdoors in all types of weather conditions is often required, as well as physically strenuous labor.
Having an interest in the outdoors and nature is a great place to start when considering a career as a gardener. Having a “Green Thumb” can help, a term given to those that have a natural ability to grow plants. But there is much more to gardening; jobs in horticulture involve science, math, English and art. Nursery and landscape careers require a strong academic foundation of literacy, chemistry, biology, mathematical and analytical skills, not to mention creativity, problem solving, coordination, and most importantly, passion! These skills can often be gained through a 2- or 4-year college degree.
To gain work experience, it is helpful to acquire an internship with a professional gardener. Experience can also be gained through volunteer involvement with community gardening clubs. These offer opportunities for networking through work parties, special events, community service projects and community education.
Professional gardeners with work experience and certifications can advance their career by moving up in their company from an assistant position to a managerial position. They may become the head of the department for local parks, or the director of a botanical garden. Those who pursue a bachelor's or master's degree in horticulture can open their own business as a gardener or detail gardener providing consultation and design services to residential clients, and overseeing garden laborers. You can earn a great living as a nursery and landscape industry professional! Wages may vary by region, but depending on which career path you choose, you could make more than $100,000 a year and even open your own business.
If you are interested in this skilled trade, many opportunities exist throughout the country with positions available in every state. Working in the nursery and landscape industry can give you tangible results and immediate satisfaction and offers the perfect opportunity to see something that you've created everyday.
Become a Professional Gardener
How Do I Become A Gardener?
How We Science is moderated and edited by the staff of the Natural Resources Trust of Easton.