From outer space to greenhouses, plants can be grown with hydroponics in a variety of environments. Increased yields, larger plants and tighter control are all benefits of hydroponic growth. A career in hydroponics typically requires a bachelor's degree in horticulture or a related field, but not necessarily.
|Career||Farmers and Greenhouse Workers||Hydroponic Equipment Salespersons||Career and Technical Education Teachers|
|Education Requirements||Many growers possess high school diplomas or GEDs||Bachelor's degrees may be required for larger-scale firms||Bachelor's degree typically required|
|Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)*||-3% (for agricultural workers)||10%||9%|
|Average Salary (2013)*||$20,820 (for farmworkers and laborers, crop, nursery, and greenhouse)||$86,750 (for sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing, technical and scientific products||$57,370 (secondary school)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Hydroponics is the science of growing plants without soil. A person who grows plants delivers the water and nutrients directly to the roots of the plant. Because of the lack of soil, a grower using hydroponics has better control over nutrients. When applied correctly, hydroponic growth often leads to greater yields and larger plants. Read on to learn about some positions available for those who wish to work with hydroponics.
Many of the people involved in hydroponics are growers. They work in different settings and grow different types of plants, but all professional hydroponics growers earn a living from the yield produced by their plants. Because of the nature of hydroponic growth, most of this work is performed in an enclosed environment, like a greenhouse or laboratory.
While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't have data specific for hydroponic growers, it does provide salary data for farm workers and laborers in greenhouses. These workers earned an average salary of $20,820 as of May 2014. The related group of farmers could expect a 3% decline in employment opportunities between 2012 and 2022, reported the BLS.
Hydroponic Equipment Salespeople
Those who sell hydroponics equipment to the grower also earn their livings through hydroponics. These salespeople provide growers with growth systems to hold the plants and provide water. They may also deliver nutrient and salt mixes to feed the plants and otherwise care for plant stocks. Some provide light fixtures to small-scale growers who require them.
The BLS found that wholesale sales representatives for technical and scientific products, a group that includes hydroponic equipment salespeople, could expect 10% employment growth during the 2012-2022 decade. These professionals earned a mean salary of $86,750 as of May 2014.
Hydroponic instructors can teach students the technical aspects of hydroponic growth through lectures and hands-on laboratory courses. Because of their specialized knowledge, hydroponics instructors may offer courses to other agricultural educators as well as to students at colleges and universities.
Although the BLS doesn't provide salary or employment outlook data for hydroponic instructors, it does include data for career and technical education teachers. This group was expected to see 9% growth between 2012 and 2022. The BLS reported that such instructors teaching at the secondary school level could expect an average salary of $57,370 in May of 2014.
Requirements for Hydroponics Careers
Both growers and sellers benefit from an education and training in hydroponics. This primarily includes a technical education in horticulture, with foundational courses in chemistry, biology and mathematics. The BLS classifies hydroponic growers as horticultural specialty farmers and suggests an associate's or bachelor's degree as the minimum educational requirement for farmers of all types (www.bls.gov). Many colleges, community colleges and universities offer horticulture, applied horticulture or horticulture operations programs. Every state university system has a least one college or university with an agricultural program.