Turf and turfgrass management programs can prepare you to maintain turf in sports fields and homes. Continue reading to learn about the career options and the academic programs available in the field of turf maintenance.
Turfgrass management refers to the business and science of maintaining turfgrass for golf courses, athletic fields, recreational facilities and residential lawns. You study the basics of soil science, learn how to water plants correctly and explore techniques for designing golf courses and other settings. You can pursue a certificate program or earn an associate's, bachelor's or master's degree in turfgrass management. With this training, you can become a golf course superintendent, sports field manager, landscaping operations manager, lawn care specialist, assistant golf course superintendent, groundskeeper or turfgrass manager.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), turfgrass managers are responsible for caring for grass and other greenery on golf courses, farms, schools, parks, athletic fields and residential areas (www.bls.gov). You may oversee other workers or take care of the lawns yourself. In this job, workers spend a lot of time outdoors, and you should be in good physical condition, since you aerate, seed, reseed, fertilize, mow and water the grass. In some places, you may need to implement an irrigation system or design landscapes for a golf course, park, school or private home.
The BLS stated in 2012 that approximately 99,010 individuals worked as supervisors of landscaping, lawn service and groundskeeping workers. It reported that about 830,640 people filled positions as landscapers and groundskeepers, and 1,227,100 worked in all areas of grounds maintenance. Most jobs are seasonal, so you may work long hours during the spring, summer and fall, but you may plan and prepare for landscaping projects during the winter. The BLS projected that, between 2012 and 2022, the employment growth for landscaping and groundskeeping supervisors, as well as grounds maintenance workers in general, would be about 13%, while landscaping and groundskeeping workers specifically would see a 12% increase.
In May 2012, the median annual salary for individuals supervising landscaping and groundskeeping workers was $42,160, according to the BLS. Landscaping and groundskeeping workers made a median annual salary of $23,570, and grounds maintenance workers in general made $23,970, according to the BLS. Earning certification from one of the many professional organizations related to the field may raise your salary and improve your chances of employment
You don't need to meet any specific academic requirements to pursue a career in turfgrass management. However, if you earn a certificate or degree, you may have a more thorough understanding of turfgrass landscaping techniques and care. Through certificate and undergraduate degree programs, you can explore methods for controlling diseases and insects, improving the health of turf, making it aesthetically appealing and allowing for proper turf drainage. Common courses include irrigation and drainage, soil science, landscape horticulture, plant pathology, human resources management, plant diseases, weed science, soil resources, entomology, plant nutrition and turf practices. You may also be required to complete an internship at a turfgrass management facility.
Master's degree programs are also available in either turfgrass management or in a related field, such as horticulture, with a specialization in turf management. These programs may familiarize you with types of plant diseases, plant nutrition and the chemical properties of soil and plants. You could also take management courses.
To earn certification in groundskeeping, you must have a bachelor's degree with two years of grounds maintenance experience, an associate's degree with six years of grounds maintenance experience or eight years of experience in the field, according to the Professional Grounds Management Society (www.pgms.org). You must also pass a two-part exam covering grounds maintenance and care procedures. Even after you earn certification, you must continue to meet accreditation requirements by completing continuing education credits.