What Is a Horticulture Specialist?

Research the particulars of becoming a horticulture specialist. Learn about education needed, skill requirements, and potential salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Floral Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Horticulture Specialist?

Horticulture specialists use plants to create and design gardens and lush landscapes at hotels, city parks and other locations. They also take care of these arrangements, applying mulch, watering and trimming plants. This requires the use of various gardening tools and equipment. The following chart provides an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Education Required Varies by employer; certificate or associate's degree at minimum; bachelor's degrees available
Training Required 2 years of work experience in horticulture, landscape design or gardening desired
Key Skills Plant care, physical ability to lift up to 50 pounds, landscape and garden design creativity
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% (for grounds maintenance workers)*
Median Salary (2016) $39,495 (for horticulturists)**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

How Do I Become a Horticulture Specialist?

Numerous colleges and universities offer certificate programs in landscape and horticulture technology. Coursework often includes introductory topics in plant identification and turfgrass science. According to some schools, these 1-year programs can prepare you for entry-level employment.

However, some employers state that you must have at minimum an associate's degree along with 2-3 years of experience in horticulture, landscape design or gardening, according to job postings on sites such as ForFarmers.com and Monster.com. These 2-year programs include additional coursework in irrigation systems. You may also learn how to diagnose plant diseases, create landscape designs and propagate plants.

A bachelor's degree in horticulture and landscape architecture can also prepare you for this career field. These programs often include coursework in the biological sciences. You'll also learn how to manage a greenhouse or nursery and implement sustainable design practices. Most associate's and bachelor's degree programs allow you to practice what you've learned through internships at local botanical or public gardens.

What Skills Will I Need?

As a horticulture specialist, you'll maintain and care for plants, flowers and trees. You may need the physical ability to lift more than 50 pounds of material and withstand extreme weather conditions, according to Monster.com's job postings for horticulture specialists.

You may also be called upon to be creative and intuitive in designing landscapes and garden environments. Since you may interact with customers or visitors as well as employers, you'll need strong communication skills. Depending upon the state in which you're seeking employment, you may also need a pesticide application license.

What Kind of Salary Can I Expect?

You may find employment as a horticultural specialist at botanical gardens, hotels, theme parks, resorts, public recreation areas and residential communities. Although compensation may vary by location and experience, the median annual salary for horticulturists was $39,495 as of 2016, according to PayScale.com.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Agricultural workers serve a similar role as horticulture specialists, but for farms that produce agricultural products instead of landscaping. These workers operate agriculture equipment to till land, plant crops, harvest agricultural goods and more. On many farms, agricultural managers, farmers and ranchers complete many of these same tasks as well. These careers in farming don't require any formal education, but most workers have at least a high school diploma or its equivalent. Outside farming, forest and conservation workers work to maintain the health of forests. These professionals typically have a high school diploma as well.

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