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Maintenance Groundskeeper: Job Description and Requirements

A career as a maintenance groundskeeper requires no formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

Maintenance groundskeepers can work in numerous outdoor settings where they perform tasks such as mowing lawns, pruning trees and shrubs, maintaining fountains, or cultivating flowerbeds. While a high school diploma is typically sufficient for entry-level positions, specialized and advanced roles in this field often require either an associate's degree or completion of a certificate program. Some of the coursework available for maintenance groundskeepers includes turf or weed management and landscape design.

Essential Information

Maintenance groundskeepers are responsible for the upkeep and appearance of outdoor areas. The work is often seasonal and labor-intensive. Entry-level positions require little or no formal training, but education programs and certifications are available for those wishing to become supervisors or plant care specialists.

Required Education High school diploma; associate's degree or certificate for advanced positions
Other Requirements State license to apply pesticides; optional certification by Professional Grounds Management Society, Professional Landcare Network and Tree Care Industry Association
Projected Job Growth 6% from 2014-2024*
Median Salary (2015) $25,030*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Duties

Because groundskeepers are employed by a variety of commercial, residential and recreational properties in all climates, responsibilities may vary. Grounds maintenance duties usually consist of up keeping lawns, trees, shrubs, flowerbeds and other landscaping elements. Workers may also tend to the seasonal needs of walkways and parking lots, as well as site-specific structures like fountains, seating areas, fences and buildings.

Groundskeepers who maintain athletic fields and golf courses have specialized maintenance tasks. For example, crews caring for athletic fields paint boundaries and logos, inspect natural turf for aeration and drainage issues and prevent bacterial growth in artificial turf. Those working as greenskeepers are also responsible for the length and condition of grasses, greens and other elements of golf courses.

Maintenance groundskeepers use a variety of hand tools and powered equipment, such as lawnmowers, rakes, trimmers, chainsaws and snow blowers. Workers may also apply chemicals, including fertilizers or pesticides. The work is physically taxing and requires being outdoors in all kinds of weather, sometimes to prevent or repair weather-related issues.

Requirements for a Maintenance Groundskeeper

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), entry-level work as a maintenance groundskeeper usually does not require education beyond a high school diploma. The BLS further states that on-the-job training from experienced crewmembers is often sufficient, unless an individual would like to enter as a supervisor or specialist in some aspect of plant care or landscaping.

Education

Aspirating groundskeepers wishing to gain the training to enter advanced positions may look to certificate and associate's degree programs offered by technical, vocational and community colleges. Students in these programs may specialize in a field, such as turf management, horticulture and landscape design in order to prepare them for advanced careers or management positions. Courses may cover topics ranging from small equipment repair to weed management.

Licensure

Maintenance groundskeepers that apply pesticides may need to earn a state license. Applicants are typically required to complete state exam on use and disposal of pesticides. Once licensed, states may require maintenance groundskeepers to complete continuing education classes on safety or other topics in order to maintain their licenses.

Certification

Maintenance groundskeepers looking to advance in the field may consider completing voluntary certification programs offered by professional organizations. For example, the Professional Grounds Management Society has a Certified Grounds Manager program which consists of a 2-part test on topics such as trees and shrubs, irrigation, insects and chemicals. Qualified candidates have several years of job experience or a combination of work experience and educational background in an appropriate field.

Alternatively the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) certification includes seven designations in the landscape industry, with exams focused on a variety of plant and soil health topics. Maintenance groundskeepers may also contact the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), which offers a Certified Treecare Safety Professional (CTSP) program. Qualified candidates have field and safety experience or a 4-year degree and technical field experience through an internship. Once eligible, applicants must complete a hands-on workshop and an exam to become certified.

Some maintenance groundskeepers are required to have a state license, especially if they are applying pesticides. Professional certification programs offer a range of specialized designations that include topics in irrigation, chemicals, soil health, and safety. A maintenance groundskeeper must be prepared to work outside in all types of weather, and needs to be able to handle a range of equipment, including chainsaws, snow blowers and lawnmowers.


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