How to become a Groundsperson. Read through our comprehensive job guide to learn more about this career.
What does a Groundsperson do?
As a groundsperson you would look after sports grounds, such as football, cricket and rugby pitches, bowling greens, tennis courts and golf courses.
Your main responsibility would be to manage the soil and grass to make sure the turf is always in top condition. Your duties would typically include:
- preparing land for turf laying
- applying fertilisers and chemicals
- rolling and mowing the turf
- controlling weeds
- marking lines on surfaces
- installing and maintaining equipment like nets, posts and protective covers
- looking after surrounding areas – decorative displays, concrete or tarmac
- operating equipment like hedge cutters, strimmers and ride-on mowers
- painting, removing rubbish and carrying out general duties.
Your tasks would vary according to the season and weather conditions.
You would usually work around 37 hours a week, sometimes including weekends and evenings.
You would spend most of your time outside, and your work would be quite physical. In some jobs you would need to travel around a large site or to several different sites.
How much does a Groundsperson earn?
Salary scales recommended for 2020 by the Institute of Groundmanship are:
- Groundsperson: £17,985 to £20,310 a year.
- Skilled groundsperson: £20,700 to £26,850.
- Head groundsperson: £26,445 to £33,795.
There may be bonuses and payment for overtime, and accommodation is sometimes provided.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
If you have experience in horticulture, you could find work as an unskilled groundsperson without relevant qualifications. You may then be able to progress to skilled level by gaining experience and working towards qualifications.
Alternatively, you could start by doing a course that would help you develop the skills needed for the job. Relevant courses include:
- BTEC First Diploma in Horticulture
- NPTC Level 1 Certificate in Horticulture
- NPTC National Certificate/Advanced National Certificate in Horticulture
- BTEC National Certificate and Diploma in Horticulture (Sports Turf and Groundmanship).
From September 2010 these qualifications will be replaced by:
- Certificate/Diploma in Horticulture at levels 2 and 3
- Certificate/Diploma in Sports and Amenity Turf Maintenance at Level 2.
Entry requirements for courses vary, so you should check directly with colleges.
A driving licence will be useful for some jobs.
You may be able to get into this job through an Apprenticeship scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. To find out more about Apprenticeships, visit the Apprenticeships website.
Training and Development
Once you are working as a groundsperson, you will usually receive on-the-job training from your employer. You may also have the chance to increase your skills and develop your career by attending college on a day-release basis to gain relevant qualifications such as:
- NPTC Certificate/Diploma/Award in Work-based Horticulture
- NPTC Level 2 National Certificate in Sports and Amenity Turf Maintenance
- NPTC Level 3 Advanced National Certificate in Sports and Amenity Turf Management
- other BTEC and NPTC qualifications in Horticulture.
In September 2010 these will be replaced by new Certificates/Diplomas in horticulture and in Sports and Amenity Turf Maintenance.
You could also complete the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) four-tier programme of short courses – Foundation, Intermediate, Advanced and Management.
If you have a least five years’ practical management experience you can gain international recognition of your skills through the IOG/C & G Senior Award in Sports Turf Management. This is on two levels, licentiateship and graduateship.
Visit the training and education page of the IOG website for details of all their courses and qualifications.
- Institute of Groundsmanship – training and education page
You could also develop your career by completing higher level qualifications like BTEC HNCs/HNDs, foundation degrees and degrees in subjects such as Sports Turf Management.
To search for colleges and universities offering foundation degrees, HNDs and degrees see the UCAS website.
You can join the IOG on six levels, depending on the level of your highest qualification. Membership will demonstrate your competence to employers, give you access to continuing professional development opportunities, and help you progress in your career. Check the IOG website for details.
Skills and Knowledge
- the strength and fitness to use heavy equipment
- practical skills
- the ability to interpret plans and drawings
- the ability to work as part of a team and on your own initiative
- basic knowledge of machinery maintenance
- awareness of health and safety issues
- willingness to work outside in all weather conditions.
You could find work with any of the following:
- private leisure providers
- local authorities
- sports clubs
- schools and other educational establishments
- grounds maintenance contractors
- large corporations with company leisure facilities.
With experience, you may be able to progress to supervisor or team leader, then to head of section or into management. Progression may depend on gaining further qualifications.
You could also become self-employed as a contractor or consultant.