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Careers in the Greenhouse Industry: Options and Requirements

Training for a career in the greenhouse industry generally ranges from no formal training to a bachelor's degree program. Continue reading for an overview of the training, as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

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If you enjoy being around plants, working in a greenhouse or nursery might be a good career option for you. While there are very few educational requirements to get started in this field, those looking for managerial positions might consider earning a bachelor's degree in fields such as horticulture, plant science or business.

Essential Information

Growing healthy flowers, trees and shrubs is a labor-intensive business. High school graduates with a love of plants might find work as seasonal or maintenance employees in a greenhouse or nursery, while those with a college education can work as greenhouse technicians or managers. Positions may require physical fitness, certifications or licensing, and some require previous experience in the field.

Careers Greenhouse Maintenance Worker Greenhouse Technician Greenhouse Manager
Required Education High school diploma, some states require certification or license Associate's degree Bachelor's degree
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 9% decline (for crop, nursery and greenhouse workers) 5% (for all agricultural and food science technicians) 2% decline (for all farmers, ranchers and agricultural managers)
Median Salary (2015)* $19,770 (for crop, nursery and greenhouse workers) $36,480 (for all agricultural and food science technicians) $64,170 (for all farmers, ranchers and agricultural managers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Options

Those interested in a career in the greenhouse industry who do not want to complete a formal education program have the option to work as greenhouse maintenance workers. With an associate's degree, graduates may find work as greenhouse technicians. Graduates of bachelor's degree programs can work as greenhouse managers. Read on to find out more about the requirements for each of these careers.

Greenhouse Maintenance Workers

Growing healthy flowers, trees and shrubs is a labor-intensive business. High school graduates with a love of plants might find work as seasonal or maintenance employees in a greenhouse or nursery. Positions may require physical fitness, certifications or licensing and some positions require previous experience in the field.

Workers in both nurseries and greenhouses are typically responsible for planting, watering, trimming, cultivating, pruning, transplanting and fertilizing the plants in their care. They may also help to maintain structures and equipment, such as trellises, fences, irrigation systems or other gardening gear. Employees at a retail greenhouse could assist customers in selecting the best plants for their needs and fill their orders.

Requirements

Physical fitness is important for workers in a greenhouse or nursery; the job requires bending, stretching and lifting. Employees must be able to listen and follow directions precisely and may sometimes need to relate plant care instructions to customers and clients. Workers in this category could qualify with a high school diploma and learn the necessary skills through on-the-job training. Those who acquire several years of experience or take postsecondary or career classes in soil or plant science could advance to supervisory or management positions.

Most states require workers who apply pesticides or herbicides to plants to be certified or licensed. Employees would need to take classes offered by the agricultural extension service or conservation service in their area and pass a test to become qualified as a pesticide applicator.

Salary and Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes greenhouse maintenance workers in the larger group of agricultural workers who work with crops or in nurseries or greenhouses, and this group was expected to see a nine percent decline in employment opportunities between 2014 and 2024. The BLS reported that crop, nursery and greenhouse workers earned a median salary of $19,770 as of May 2015.

Greenhouse Technician

Some businesses and universities maintain greenhouses as research facilities. They might be used to develop new ways to care for plants, increase plant hardiness or improve crop yield. Greenhouse technicians are employed by these facilities to gather and compile data as well as tend to the growing plants involved in these studies.

Technicians often work with a supervisor who oversees the research, but they are responsible for observing and recording facts. Technicians could help to install and maintain equipment, operate greenhouse environmental controls and perform maintenance and cleaning duties.

Requirements

Greenhouse technicians usually need an associate degree in horticulture, plant science or a similar field. Employers also prefer to hire those with two or more years of work experience. Depending on the state in which they work, some technicians need certification or licensure in pesticide application. Computer skills that allow a technician to record and track data are also useful.

Technicians often work as part of a team of researchers and must be able to communicate effectively with other workers. They may be asked to follow complicated directions given by their supervisors and act as mentors to students.

Salary and Employment Outlook

While the BLS doesn't have specific data for greenhouse technicians, it does indicate that agricultural and food science technicians, a related group of workers, might see a five percent employment increase from 2014 to 2024. These professionals earned a median salary of $36,480 as of May 2015, according to the BLS.

Greenhouse Manager

Many jobs in greenhouse management require workers to understand the basics of running a business, including hiring and supervising employees, creating a budget, monitoring marketing efforts and tracking inventory. Nursery managers must also be able to choose the best plants to grow based on their location and clients' needs.

Greenhouse managers who work in a retail business are often responsible for educating their customers about the best ways to grow the plants they purchase. A manager will need to know about fertilizers, pest control, proper planting techniques and useful equipment.

Requirements

Although greenhouse managers can progress through experience in the field, managerial positions typically require a bachelor's or associate degree in horticulture or a similar field. Students who have studied both plant science and business should have the best job opportunities, as will applicants who have several years of work experience in a greenhouse or nursery.

Salary and Employment Outlook

The BLS includes greenhouse managers in the larger group of agricultural managers and farmers, and these professionals were expected to see a decline in employment of 2% between 2014 and 2024. Despite the decrease in opportunities, agricultural managers earned a median salary of $64,170 the BLS stated in its May 2015 report.

Greenhouse workers only need a high school diploma to start work, but greenhouse technicians and greenhouse managers often need an associate's degree or higher. Greenhouse workers and technicians work with the plants in the greenhouse or nursery, either in maintenance or in observation and research, and may require a license if they are using pesticides and sprays; greenhouse managers need a combined understanding of business and plants, and they may help customers with growing, planting and pest control techniques.

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