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Gardener

Gardeners grow and look after plants in a range of private and public green spaces.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £16,000 to £25,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37 to 42 per week

1. Entry requirements

Employers don't usually ask for qualifications.

If you have some related voluntary or paid work experience, this could help you to get a job. You could get experience by volunteering through Do-it or with organisations like:

You could also start as an assistant gardener and work your way up.

A qualification in gardening may help. The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has details about careers and training. No formal qualifications are needed to start.

You could also get into this job through an intermediate apprenticeship in horticulture. For this you may need GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) including maths and English.

The RHS also offers horticultural apprenticeships in their national gardens for 16 to 19 year olds. For these you’ll need 2 GCSEs at grade 4 (C) or above in English and science, with some IT skills.

If you do hazardous tasks like using chain saws or pesticides, you’ll need a Certificate of Competence for each task. LANTRA and City & Guilds Land Based Services have more details.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • practical skills to use tools
  • creativity and an eye for detail
  • marketing and business skills, if you're self-employed
  • customer service skills

3. What you'll do

You could work for local authorities, private companies or estates, the Royal Parks, botanical gardens, theme parks and conservation charities like the National Trust.

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • raising plants from seeds or cuttings
  • digging, planting and weeding flower beds and borders
  • pruning shrubs and trees
  • checking the health of plants and controlling pests
  • using machinery like lawn mowers and hedge trimmers
  • looking after the appearance of plants and the surrounding landscape
  • cleaning and maintaining equipment
  • basic building tasks like laying patios, or putting up sheds and fences

You may also be involved in designing planting schemes.

In some roles you may be talking to clients or visitors.

4. Salary

Starter: £16,000 to £18,000

Experienced: £19,000 to £23,000

Highly Experienced: £25,000 or more

Self-employed gardeners usually agree an hourly rate with their customers.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll usually work around 37 hours a week.

If you're self-employed, you'll arrange your own hours and may work longer in summer. In winter, there may not be as much work.

Gardening is physically demanding. You'll be lifting, digging and carrying loads. You may wear safety equipment like gloves and a hard hat.

You may need a driving licence and a vehicle to carry equipment.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could become a senior or head gardener.

You could move into other work like landscaping, greenkeeping or the care of trees and shrubs (arboriculture).

You could also set up your own business, offering a service to private customers.

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Last updated: 04 August 2017