With greater emphasis on creating community green spaces and sustainable practices, landscaping is a growing industry in the U.S. There is a wide range of positions available in this sector, requiring varying degrees of formal training and experience. One common factor in all these positions is that workers in the landscaping industry generally have a passion towards plants and want to create a pleasant (indoor/outdoor) environment for the people living and working in it.
Here are some possible career options for students wishing to pursue a career in landscaping:
• Landscaper/Grounds maintenance: These specialists are often employed by local governments, landscaping companies or landscape architects to maintain the grounds or implement a landscape design project. Landscapers work outdoors as well as indoors (depending on the nature of the job) and may be seasonal workers (in warmer climates, they work year round). The work that is involved in these positions tends to be hands-on and can be physically demanding. Some of the tasks include planting flowers and trees; mowing the lawn; clearing the ground; pruning and trimming; replenishing the ground with fresh soil; pest management; and irrigation. These positions generally don’t require a formal training, however, experience with grounds keeping may increase chances of getting hired.
• Gardener: Gardeners can work independently for smaller residential projects or lead a grounds maintenance crew in larger community and commercial projects. Gardeners do not necessarily have formal training, but they are familiar with horticulture and grounds maintenance tools and techniques. They may have gained experience as a hobby gardener or have worked in a nursery or have started their career as a grounds maintenance crew member.
• Horticulturalist: These specialists study the nature of plants and crops and often work with landscape architects to suggest which plants to use in projects, based on climate, location and creative vision. Horticulturalists are formally trained in a post-secondary program and are employed in various public and private sector organizations.
• Landscape Architect: Landscape architects are involved in the design of residential gardens as well as public green space. These projects often incorporate urban planning, environmental sustainability as well as the local culture to create a space that can be enjoyed by the community.1 Landscape architects are formally trained in a post-secondary institution via a Bachelor, Associates or even a Masters degree program.
Not sure which specialization suits your career goals? You may want to do some research to learn more about each of these roles. If you are a person who enjoys more hands-on work vs. academic studies, then a career as a landscape architect or horticulturalist may not be for you. However, if you are more interested in the design of space rather than the nature of the plants, you should look into a landscape architecture program. In addition to speaking to your school counselor and the college’s department staff, you may want to find out if the schools can connect you to a current student or alumni who can provide more insight into what you can expect from the program and as a professional in the industry.
Furthermore, if you decide to enroll in a post-secondary program, be sure to research on admission requirements as well as financial aid options which can help you focus on applying to those schools which best suit your needs and interests.
1. Harvard Graduate School of Design – Landscape Architecture. http://www.gsd.harvard.edu/#/academic-programs/landscape-architecture/