Learn about education and training programs that can prepare you for a job in the field of greenhouse operations. Find out the job requirements and duties of greenhouse operations managers.
A greenhouse operations manager is called upon to decide the type, quantity and quality of plants to be grown in a greenhouse. This can involve the selection and purchase of seeds, fertilizers and other chemicals used to control pest infestations. They may also be involved in the planting, irrigating, pruning and harvesting of greenhouse plants, as well as diagnosing problems that plants may face. Greenhouse operations managers also run the daily operations of a greenhouse or nursery, requiring strong sales, marketing and other business skills.
Studies in greenhouse operations most commonly lead to careers within greenhouses and nurseries. In many cases, a career in greenhouse operations is associated with farming, horticultural or other agricultural occupations. For instance, you may find job opportunities in the areas of lawn and garden equipment retail, crop production, agricultural management and corporate farming. Some job titles you could qualify for include nursery or greenhouse manager, plant propagator, horticulturist and greenhouse supplies salesman.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expected a 3% decline in the number of jobs for agricultural workers between 2012 and 2022 (www.bls.gov). Additionally, the BLS projected a 19% decline for agricultural managers, farmers and ranchers over this same period. The best job opportunities may be found in organic food production and horticulture, which the BLS reports as two of the fastest-growing segments within the agriculture industry. According to the BLS, the median annual salary as of May 2013 for farmers, ranchers and agricultural managers, including greenhouse managers, was $70,110, and greenhouse laborers and workers earned $18,710 during that same period.
Many agricultural workers learn their skills on the job; however, greenhouse and nursery managers often earn undergraduate degrees in the field. Many 2- and 4-year colleges and universities offer associate's or bachelor's degrees in horticulture that can prepare you for a career in greenhouse operations. Some schools offer concentrations in greenhouse or nursery operations within horticulture and other agricultural degree programs. Greenhouse diploma and certificate programs exist as well. Alternatively, you could pursue a degree in a closely related field, such as greenhouse management, horticulture technology or agricultural sciences.
Courses within greenhouse operations programs generally cover topics in agricultural management, plant science, plant diseases, horticulture production and marketing, as well as plant identification, pest management and greenhouse design. Most degree programs also offer practicums or internships to provide more hands-on career preparation. These internships and practicums can take place in a variety of sites, including stormwater detention facilities, medicinal and rainwater gardens and companies and organizations that are part of the agricultural business community. Beyond formal educational training, you may consider earning professional credentials. For instance, the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers offers specialized accreditation as an Accredited Farm Manager or Accredited Agricultural Consultant, which requires meeting education and experience requirements, as well as passing an exam (www.asfmra.org).