Should I Become a Landscape Contractor?
Landscape contractors are workers who focus on improving existing outdoor spaces by planting flowers and trees, trimming bushes and installing sprinkler systems and hardscapes, such as patios and walkways. Landscaping opportunities may be available in both commercial and residential settings. This occupation can be physically demanding, and work must often be completed during inclement weather. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in May of 2015 the median annual salary for landscaping and groundskeeping workers was $25,030.
To become a landscape contractor, you don't need any postsecondary training, but training in horticulture or landscape design may be beneficial. You'll usually be trained on the job and must have the ability to perform manual labor and have self-motivation when working alone. In addition, be aware of licensing requirements. Licensing laws vary by state and locality. There's also voluntary certification options. Several organizations, including the Professional Landcare Network, offer voluntary certification in the field.
Steps to Become a Landscape Contractor
Let's look over what steps you'll want to take to become a landscape contractor.
Step 1: Acquire Training
Landscape contractors typically learn their trade by working in the field. In addition to planting, watering, trimming and fertilizing vegetation, you'll learn to use leaf blowers, lawnmowers, and chainsaws. You'll also be trained in job safety and aesthetics to ensure the quality of your work is strong.
Step 2: Become Licensed
Many states require a licensing or certification examination to ensure that contractors understand pesticide safety laws. Some states require landscape contractors to be licensed. To obtain a license, you must have experience in the field and pass an examination. Contract license tests may require knowledge of landscape design, job estimation, safety procedures and hardware installation.
Step 3: Obtain Certification
Acquiring a voluntary competency certification may help landscape contractors attract new clients and advance their careers. Professional organizations in the field offer various certification levels based on education and experience. For example, the Professional Landcare Network (LPN) offers several landscaping certifications, including the Landscape Industry Certified Manager, Landscape Industry Certified Technician and Landscape Industry Certified Lawn Care Technician. In order to earn certification, you need to have experience in the field and pass an exam. Benefits of obtaining certification include demonstrating a certain level of professionalism and recognition in the industry.
Consider a degree. A degree is not required to become a landscape contractor. However, you may benefit from obtaining formal training. A degree in landscape design or horticulture requires study of ecology, plants, soil, fertilizer and pesticides. A bachelor's degree in landscape architecture prepares contractors to design parks, playgrounds, and campuses, which may create additional work opportunities and career advancement.
To become a landscape contractor, you'll need training to learn the skills needed and must meet any licensing requirements. You may also want to consider voluntary certification.