Become a Floral Specialist: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Mar 06, 2020

Research the requirements to become a floral specialist. Learn about the job description and duties, and read the step-by-step process to start a career as a floral specialist.

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Should I Become a Floral Specialist?

Floral specialists, or florists, arrange cut flowers and artificial flowers into displays and bouquets. Job duties may include growing flowers, ordering flowers from wholesalers, conferring with customers about their wants, recommending flowers and arrangement types, choosing flowers and greenery, designing arrangements according to specifications and completing designated paperwork for transactions. Floral specialists might work in floral shops, grocery stores or other types of retail businesses.

Working in a floral shop requires standing for long periods of time and occasionally dealing with difficult customers. The temperatures in floral shops may be lower than normal because of the need to keep flowers and greenery fresh. Work hours may be long, especially during the holiday season. Part-time work is common in this industry, but full-time opportunities are also available. Self-employment opportunities are available for experienced professionals.

Career Requirements

Degree Level None; associate/bachelor's degree programs in floral design available
Degree Field Floral design, floriculture
Experience Previous experience in a retail floral store; on-the-job training available
Licensure/Certification Voluntary from the American Institute of Floral Designers
Key Skills Creativity and artistic ability; customer service and organizational skills; knowledge of floral equipment and material
Salary $27,200 (2018 median salary for all floral designers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*NET OnLine

While associate and bachelor's degree programs in floral design and floriculture are available, many florists receive on-the-job training. It is beneficial for an aspiring florist to have experience in a retail floral store and/or training in floral design. The American Institute of Floral Designers offers voluntary certification to florists. Florists must possess key skills, such as creativity, artistic ability, customer service, organization and knowledge of floral equipment and material in order to be successful. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for floral designers as of 2018 was $27,200 per year.

Step 1: Learn on the Job

Formal education isn't necessary to work as a floral specialist. Many receive on-the-job training through retail florists. They may start out working as cashiers or delivery drivers and gradually learn the trade of floral design. Opportunities for on-the-job training may be best during times when floral arrangements are in high demand, such as holidays.

Step 2: Seek Formal Training

Some schools offer certificate programs in floral design. These programs can vary in length from a number of weeks to a year. The curriculum may cover interior plants, retail florist management, floral arranging techniques and foliage care. Some programs also offer courses that focus on specific types of floral design, such as sympathy or wedding arrangements. Associate degrees are also common, and some schools even offer bachelor's degrees that emphasize floral design or floral management. In addition, many floral design associations offer courses online.

Success Tip

Develop knowledge about the qualities of different flowers. Students can take classes to learn about the unique properties of flowers. Florists will need to know about the size, color and lifespan of different kinds of flowers, as well as which ones are poisonous.

Step 3: Get Certified

The American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) offers the Certified Floral Designer (CFD) credential upon successful completion of a training course, program or industry experience; a written exam; and a design demonstration. Candidates must prove their design competency in wedding, table, wearable and funeral arrangements. The CFD credential is voluntary, but floral specialists who wish to join the AIFD must earn it.

Success Tip

Earn continuing education credits to keep certification. Florists will need to earn 25 continuing education credits for a 3-year period. In order to meet these requirements, floral designers have to complete 5 hours of work in leadership and service. Floral designers can go to a symposium or enroll in various educational programs in the floral design industry to earn the continuing education credits.

Step 4: Train and Advance Your Career

Standalone classes are available for floral specialists who wish to learn specialized techniques. Many schools offer classes that focus on such topics as Ikebana (Japanese floral design), cascading centerpieces and table arrangements. Florists can also take courses to learn about modern floral design and silk flower arrangements.

Experienced floral specialists have the option of managing a floral shop or owning and operating their own business. Some floral design programs offer coursework pertaining to floral shop management or ownership. However, additional coursework in business, customer relations, computers, marketing and accounting may be helpful.

Floral specialists have the option of completing associate or bachelor's degrees, but most receive on-the-job training and earn certification through the American Institute of Floral Designers. Florists must have a wide variety of floral knowledge, as well as a creative and artistic approach to their craft.

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