What Is a Landscape Technician?

Explore the career requirements for a landscape technician. Get the facts about job duties, training requirements, and salary potential to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Landscape Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Landscape Technician?

Landscape technicians have a number of varied duties related to the general maintenance and upkeep of gardens, public outdoor spaces, campuses, and other outdoor spaces. They plant, trim, fertilize and maintain various types of plants, mow grass and weed to keep areas looking neat, remove damaged or dead plants, and monitor the overall growth and health of the plants in the space. They may report to a landscape manager. The following chart provides an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required High school; certificate
Education Field of Study Horticulture; tools and machinery; irrigation; landscape design
Key Responsibilities Care for gardens and outdoor spaces; maintain indoor plantings; prune, water, fertilize plants and lawns
Certification Credentials available from the Professional Grounds Management Society and the Professional Landcare Network
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% (for grounds maintenance workers)*
Median Salary (2015) $25,610 (for grounds maintenance workers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does A Landscape Technician Do?

Landscape technicians -- also known as groundskeepers or grounds maintenance workers -- are responsible for the care and upkeep of outdoor spaces such as gardens, yards, parks or golf courses. As a landscape technician, you may also tend to indoor facilities with outdoor vegetation, such as gardens or greenhouses. Landscape technicians often drive from one jobsite to the next, so you may be required to have a driver's license and a good driving record. Also, because landscaping duties can be physically demanding, you should be in good physical shape and able to lift heavy tools.

Your job responsibilities may include planting and watering trees or flowers, pruning bushes and hedges, mowing or fertilizing lawns, and removing weeds, snow or litter. You may also apply pesticides to landscapes; however, you'll probably need a state license to do so. A typical workday may require you to use various manual and mechanical tools, including lawn mowers, rakes, shovels, power saws or turf vacuums. You may also use equipment that simplifies such tasks as fertilizing soil, spreading sod or applying herbicides.

What Kind of Training Is Required?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the majority of landscape technicians had not advanced beyond high school as of 2014 (www.bls.gov). Employers often provide job training to new hires; however, landscaping companies may prefer applicants who already have some degree of relevant experience, knowledge or both.

You can learn more about landscaping by taking horticulture courses or earning a landscape technician certificate from a technical, trade or community college. These programs or courses will generally teach you about different types of plants and flowers, common landscaping tools and machines, and techniques in irrigation and landscape design.

Do I Need Certification or Licensure?

The BLS reports that in most states, licensure is required for landscapers who use pesticides, herbicides or similar chemicals. Some states may also require licensure for general landscape contractors. In order to get your business pesticide applicator's license, many states require you to pass an examination measuring your knowledge in pesticide application safety and techniques. In some states, you just need to pay a licensing fee and supply proof of employment and insurance.

You can also obtain voluntary certification as a landscape or grounds technician from a relevant professional association. Certification may be a beneficial tool for job hunting or potential career advancement. The Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) offers a Certified Grounds Technician credential to landscapers who are employed with two or more years of experience and have passed a 60-question proficiency test (www.pgms.org). The Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) offers general landscape technician certification and specialty certifications in horticulture, interiors and lawn care (www.landcarenetwork.org). All PLANET certifications require you to pass a proficiency exam; some may require completion of a relevant online course before you can take the test.

How Much Could I Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), grounds maintenance worker jobs will grow by 6% through the 2014-2024 decade (www.bls.gov). As of May 2015, the BLS reported that landscaping and groundskeeping workers earned a median annual salary of $25,030 (www.bls.gov). The salary website PayScale reported that as of October 2016, the hourly pay rate for landscape laborers ranged from $9.02-$15.01, while landscape managers earned $12.84-$24.62. Landscaping contractors earned an hourly wage of $9.97-$50.17. (www.payscale.com).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you are interested in a job with a more managerial role, you could consider becoming a landscaping manager. These professionals generally oversee other workers as they maintain outdoor spaces. You could also seek a job as another type of outdoor worker. There are options as agricultural workers, which involves working on farms, and as forest and conservation workers, which involves protecting and managing forests.

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