Become a Horticultural Technician: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a horticultural technician. Research the job description and the education and licensing requirements, and find out how to start a career as a horticultural technician. View article »

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  • 0:02 Horticultural…
  • 0:41 Get Experience
  • 1:09 Consider Formal Education
  • 1:48 Get Licensed
  • 2:36 Advance Your Career

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Video Transcript

Horticultural Technician Career Info

Degree Level None required
Experience On-the-job training common
Licensure/Certification Most states require licensure for pesticide use; voluntary certification available
Key Skills Critical thinking skills; manual dexterity; self-motivation; familiarity with office software; knowledge of horticultural equipment
Salary $25,030 (2015 median for all landscaping and groundskeeping workers)

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

Horticultural technicians oversee plant growth for greenhouses, nurseries and landscaping companies. The job can be part-time or full-time and often involves outdoor activity. On-the-job training is common; however, many colleges offer horticultural technology programs that can be completed in two years or less.

Horticultural technicians should have critical thinking skills, manual dexterity, self-motivation, and a knowledge of horticultural equipment. In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that groundskeeping and landscaping workers earned a median salary of $25,030 per year.

Step 1: Get Experience

Horticultural technicians may find work with parks and recreation departments, nurseries, botanical gardens, golf courses and greenhouses. They can also be employed by gardening, lawn care and landscape services. Most grounds maintenance workers acquire their skills on the job. Training is typically received in the safe use of lawn maintenance equipment, including riding and push mowers, leaf blowers and trimmers.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Floriculture Management
  • Greenhouse Management
  • Landscaping and Groundskeeping
  • Ornamental Horticulture
  • Plant Nursery Operations
  • Turf Management

Step 2: Consider Formal Education

Relevant formal training programs do exist, however, and they might provide grounds maintenance workers with an employment advantage. Many 2-year institutions offer certificate, diploma and associate's degree programs in horticultural technology. Certificate and diploma programs can typically be completed within a year, while associate's degree programs take two years. Typical coursework may cover turf grass management, ornamental plants, soil science, plant propagation, pest management, landscape design, nursery operation and plant nutrition. Internship opportunities may be available.

Step 3: Get Licensed

Grounds maintenance workers who apply pesticides need to acquire licensure or certification in most states. The requirements vary by state; however, most require the successful completion of an exam covering herbicides, insecticides and fungicides.

Voluntary certifications are available through professional organizations, such as the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) and the Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS). PLANET offers a Landscape Industry Certified Horticultural Technician credential upon completion of a self-study course and exam. PGMS offers Certified Grounds Technician (CGT) or Certified Grounds Manager (CGM) credentials upon successful completion of an exam.

Step 4: Advance Your Career

Horticultural technicians with work experience may have the option to pursue managerial roles, such as nursery manager or agricultural manager. Earning a bachelor's degree in horticulture is another way to qualify for positions like horticultural manager or horticulturalist. These positions are higher paying. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2015, farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers' mean salary was $64,170.

In sum, many horticultural technicians aren't required to have a particular educational background, though on-the-job training can be coupled with a certificate or degree program in the field to enhance employment opportunities.

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