How to become an Horticultural Worker. Read through our comprehensive job guide to learn more about this career.
What does a Horticultural Worker do?
As a horticultural worker, you would be involved in growing plants for one of the following purposes:
- production horticulture – producing and selling plants for either food or decoration
- garden centres – producing plants for sale to the public
- amenity horticulture – looking after areas such as parks and public gardens.
Your day-to-day tasks would typically include:
- sowing seeds and planting bulbs
- growing plants from cuttings and by grafting
- taking care of plants – watering, weeding, pruning, feeding and spraying
- mowing grass, cutting dead growth and branches, and general tidying
- laying paths and looking after ornamental features.
Depending on the job, you could also pick, sort and package produce to be sent to retailers, and sell plants and other products and advise customers in a garden centre.
You would usually work a 40-hour week, although some jobs are seasonal, with longer hours during the summer. You may need to work weekends and evenings, particularly in garden centres.
Your work would be physically demanding, involving bending, lifting and carrying.
How much does a Horticultural Worker earn?
Horticultural workers can earn between £15,000 to around £23,000 a year.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
You do not usually need qualifications to become an horticultural worker – you may be able to find work if you have experience in a similar area such as forestry or farming, or have skills and knowledge gained by gardening as a hobby. It will be useful to have customer service experience if you want to work in a garden centre.
You may find it useful to attend a full- or part-time course before looking for work, although this is not essential. Relevant courses include:
- Level 2 Certificate/Diploma in Horticulture
- Level 3 Certificate/Diploma in Horticulture
- Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Level 2 Certificate in Practical Horticulture
- RHS Diploma in the Principles and Practices of Horticulture at levels 2 and 3.
Course entry requirements can vary, so you should check with individual colleges. See the RHS website for details of RHS qualifications and centres offering training.
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 start work you may receive on-the-job training from experienced workers and supervisors. You may also be able to work towards qualifications such as NPTC Certificate, Diploma and Award in Work-based Horticulture at levels 2 and 3.
If your job involves tasks which could be dangerous, such as operating chainsaws and using pesticides, you will need certificates of competence which are awarded by the National Proficiency Tests Council (NPTC).
See the NPTC website for details of the certificates, and of other NPTC short courses that could add to your skills and knowledge.
- National Proficiency Tests Council
Skills and Knowledge
- an interest in plants and their care
- practical skills
- the ability to understand and follow health and safety regulations
- the ability to work either alone or in a team
- customer service and money handling skills for garden centre work.
Jobs in amenity horticulture are mainly in larger towns and cities, working for local councils, looking after public parks, gardens and playing fields. Councils increasingly employ private contractors to do this work, so you could also find employment with these.
With experience you could set up your own nursery or garden maintenance business.
In larger organisations, you may have the chance to progress to supervisor and manager jobs once you have experience or further qualifications.
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