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Horticultural therapist

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Horticultural therapists use gardening to improve their clients' health and wellbeing. 

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £17,000 to £30,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set requirements. You could move into this career if you have experience from other areas of horticulture. A background in social care, occupational therapy, nursing or teaching can help. 

Paid or unpaid experience of working on a horticulture project would be helpful. Thrive and Do-it have details of voluntary opportunities. It’ll also help to have a qualification in social and therapeutic horticulture. You could study an accredited course at university.

You’ll be working with vulnerable people, so you’ll need Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) clearance.

Thrive run Step into Social and Therapeutic Horticulture workshops, which can help you find out more about this kind of work.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • practical skills in gardening or horticulture
  • patience, tolerance and understanding
  • the ability to relate positively and respectfully to all clients
  • an enthusiastic, encouraging and motivational approach
  • the ability to teach a wide range of skills

3. What you'll do

You could work with:

  • people with physical disabilities, mental health problems and learning difficulties
  • elderly people
  • offenders and ex-offenders
  • people recovering from drug or alcohol abuse, major injuries or illnesses

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • developing clients' practical or social skills, confidence or self-esteem
  • adapting projects to the needs of clients
  • helping clients to learn or re-learn basic skills, including numeracy and literacy
  • providing outdoor activity and exercise to restore strength and mobility after injury or illness
  • monitoring clients’ progress
  • supporting clients to take horticultural qualifications or to move into employment
  • working closely with other professionals like psychologists and social workers
  • managing staff and volunteers
  • drawing up proposals for projects
  • setting out training and work programmes
  • applying for funding

4. Salary

Starter: £17,000

Experienced: £25,000

Highly Experienced: £30,000

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

Your working hours will be variable, and could include weekends and evenings. 

You’ll work mainly outdoors and in buildings like greenhouses.

6. Career path and progression

You could use horticultural therapy as part of a wider role, like occupational therapy. With experience and further study, you could move into a supervisory role, or research.

You could also become self-employed.

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Last updated: 13 September 2018