Horticulturist: Salary and Career Facts

Horticulturists can have a range of duties, including plant research and landscaping. Continue reading for more information about job duties, education options, voluntary certification and potential earnings. Schools offering Floral Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Horticulturist?

Horticulturists care for and maintain the health of plants lawns. They're responsible for any watering, pruning, fertilizing and breeding that needs to be done. They mostly work outdoors and are employed by nurseries, and landscaping and plant science entities. They must have plant identification knowledge, and in some cases, documentation skills. The table below provides some important details about becoming a horticulturist.

Degree Required No formal education for entry-level positions, though programs are available at the associate's through doctoral level; bachelor's degree is useful for many jobs; graduate degree is required for high-level research positions
Education Field of Study Horticulture
Key Duties Performing plant and soil studies, breeding and maintaining plants, doing nursery work, landscaping
Job Growth (2018-2028) 8%* (for all types of soil and plant scientists)
Median Salary (2019) $41,000** (for horticulturists)

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

What Are the Job Duties of a Horticulturist?

As a horticulturist, you can work in many different vocations including research, farming, landscaping and floral design, making your duties relative to the occupation you choose. You often produce, propagate, breed, plant and maintain plants of all kinds. In this profession, you might grow vegetables, fruits, nuts, shrubs, trees, flowers or other plants for research and experimentation. You'll prepare the ground for the planting season and may actually discover how to genetically alter plants so they can grow in less-than-ideal conditions. You could choose grow organic foods to sell or create a landscape design business.

What Education is Required?

Depending on your chosen career, you can earn an associate, bachelor's, master's or doctorate degree in horticulture or a related field. Some professions may not have educational requirements, though a degree program provides you with foundational and specialized training that often aids in employment entry and advancement. Horticulture programs include courses in biology, chemistry, genetics, mathematics, technology and plant science. Many horticulture programs offer concentrations, including business, crop nutrition, plant propagation, landscape design or floral design.

Entry-level or manual agricultural jobs generally require less formal education. Learning to identify, grow and care for plants help you to succeed at jobs in a nursery, farm or as a research assistant. Bachelor's degree programs introduce you to topics in soil sciences, management methods and ecological studies that typically qualify you for many horticultural jobs. Graduate-level education might be required if your interests lie in advanced scientific research or academia.

Is There Certification Available for This Career?

The American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) offers the Certified Professional Horticulturist program (www.ashs.org). This program is voluntary and usually not required by employers. However, certification can serve as proof of your abilities and might be valuable in helping you find employment. The ASHS program tests your knowledge of plant production, handling, monitoring, testing and problem diagnosis, in addition to practical application in landscape design, business management and landscape maintenance. To qualify for the program you must have at least five years' experience in the field and a bachelor's degree, though a graduate degree decreased the experience requirement.

How Much Could I Earn?

According to PayScale.com, the median annual salary for horticulturists was $41,000. The range of income is $29,000 - $65,000 per year. Entry-level workers earned about $13.62 per hour.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Some related careers include nursery workers, nursery/greenhouse managers, and landscaping/grounds-keeping workers. Nursery workers cultivate plants and trees, and usually have only a high school diploma. Nursery/greenhouse managers typically have a bachelor's degree and oversee harvesting operations for plants and trees. Landscaping/grounds-keeping workers are responsible for maintaining and grooming plots, and have no formal education.

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