What does a Horticulturist do?
Do you have an affinity for nature and love being outdoors? Would you rather spend a day working with your hands than working behind a desk?
A career in Horticulture can be both rewarding and fulfilling for people who have a natural green thumb and an interest in plants and their care.
A Horticulturist’s primary role is the care, maintenance, cultivation propagation of plants. They’ll do this by utilising their strong, scientific knowledge base. A Horticulturist must be able to differentiate types of plants, assess the conditions of soil, identify pests and diseases and, overall, maintain a healthy environment for plants to thrive.
What does a day in the life of a Horticulturist look like?
There are a variety of different career paths you could take in horticulture, and the description of ‘Horticulturist’ covers a variety of roles.
Two of the most common jobs for Horticulturists include Nursery Hands and Gardeners.
As a Nursery Hand, you’ll have a range of different responsibilities around the nursery. You’ll be responsible for preparing pots for planting, grafting, making sure plants are well watered, applying pesticides where necessary, and recording soil mixtures, plantings, treatments, losses and yields. And of course, you’ll be interacting with customers and assisting them by helping to choose the right kinds of plants and answering a range of questions. Your customers will have unique wants and needs, and they’ll look to you as an authority on gardening and plants.
Being a Nursery Hand will suit green thumbs who also love interacting with people and who have an outgoing, helpful personality.
Gardeners and Nursery Hands share many of the same responsibilities, but they work in different environments.
A Gardener may work in private or public spaces, such as a private home, a sporting field or a public park or garden. It’s likely that, as a Gardener, you’ll start your days early to make the most of the sunlight. You’ll be working every day to maintain the spaces you’re working in (whether it’s public or private), which include trimming bushes and hedges, mowing grass, eradicating weeds and pests, planting new plants, and generally making sure plants are healthy and thriving. Your job could also involve designing particular aspects of these spaces.
To take a more granular approach to this role, you could look at becoming a Landscaping Assistant or a Parks and Gardens Team Member.
What skills do you need to become a Horticulturist?
There are a number of specific traits you’ll need to begin a successful career in horticulture.
For one, you will need to have an interest in plants and nature. Even if you’re not a natural green thumb, if you have an interest in plants, their care and the environment, you can learn the skills needed to successfully cultivate and maintain the plants in your care.
You’ll also need to be an outdoorsy type who is (literally) not afraid to get your hands dirty. Working with plants and performing soil tests means that you’ll be using your hands daily to get the job done.
If you find yourself working in a team or in a customer-facing role, it also helps to have a friendly, can-do attitude. As a Nursery Hand, people will constantly be coming to you and asking for your expert opinion. And as a member of a Parks and Gardens team, you’ll need to be able to work well with others and be able to successfully co-ordinate with other team members while working on site.
Some of these skills, such as the management of plants and how to identify them, you can learn in a horticulture course. Studying a horticulture qualification could lead you on a number of different career paths. You can read more about what careers are available for Horticulturists here.
How to become a Horticulturist
You can begin a career in horticulture by studying a nationally recognised Certificate II or Certificate III with Open Colleges.
The AHC20416 Certificate II in Horticulture is the perfect introduction to horticulture. This course features three different ‘streams’ for you to choose from – Nursery, Parks and Gardens or Landscaping. This allows you to specialise in one particular area.
The AHC30716 Certificate III in Horticulture will teach you the foundational skills and knowledge that will allow you to specialise in open space management. You’ll graduate with the necessary skillset to work in large, open spaces, such as sports fields and public parks.
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