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Horticultural worker

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Horticultural workers grow and sell plants in garden centres, or tend to plants in parks and gardens.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £13,000 to £30,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set requirements, but a specialist qualification in a related subject will help.

For jobs in areas like plant science, where you may work in food development for example, you may need an HND or degree in horticulture.

Doing a college course in gardening or horticulture could help you get started in this job. 

Experience and skills gained from areas like gardening, forestry or farming could be useful. Customer service experience can also help if you want to work in a garden centre. 

Professional bodies like the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) offer qualifications for people looking to get into this career, like the Level 1 Award or Level 2 Certificate in Practical Horticulture.

You could also get into this job through an apprenticeship.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • practical skills
  • ability in maths and science for certain roles
  • customer service and money handling skills, for garden centre work

3. What you'll do

You may work in:

  • garden centres - producing plants for public sale
  • parks and gardens - looking after areas like private or public parks, gardens and green spaces
  • production horticulture - researching seed and plant development, and producing plants for the food, gardening and floristry industries

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • sowing seeds, planting bulbs and ornamental plants
  • 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
  • researching new strains of seed and plants in the lab for crop production
  • picking, sorting and packaging produce to be sent to retailers
  • selling plants and other products
  • advising customers in a garden centre

4. Salary

Starter: £13,000 to £19,000

Experienced: £20,000 to £30,000

Highly Experienced: £30,000 or more (manager)

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll 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.

6. Career path and progression

With experience you could progress to a supervisor or manager role, or set up your own nursery or garden maintenance business.

You could move into a research job for a university, or with a food and agricultural development company.

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Last updated: 13 September 2018