Are you a hands-on person who enjoys working with plants and trees? Are you happy doing work outdoors rather than a nine to five office job? If so, a career as a landscaper may be ideal for you.
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, a landscaper is also known as a grounds maintenance worker (rather than a landscape architect) is someone who manages the up keep of public spaces (such as parks and gardens) and private property (such as office buildings, residential yards).1 With increasing emphasis from civic governments and citizens on creating community outdoor space, the career outlook for landscaper remains positive.
Landscapers not only work outdoors during spring, summer and fall (depending on the location, some landscapers work year round) but they may also have contracted work in office buildings. What does a job as a landscaper entail?
• Placing new plants and seeds into the ground.
• Removing weeds and out of place shrubs.
• Adding nutrients to the soil and pest management (spraying pesticides on plants and trees if necessary).
• Maintaining the lawn.
• Trimming and pruning plants and trees if necessary.
• Irrigation by hand or through the use of sprinklers.
• Maintaining indoor plants (watering, adding soil, pruning) on a regular basis.
Landscapers are often employed by park boards, community associations, residents as well as business owners. Depending on the scale of the job, landscapers can be part of a grounds maintenance crew or they may be independently contracted. Here are some of the desirable qualities of a landscaper:
• Ability to work with their hands and work outdoors in conditions that may be physically demanding at times. Landscapers are required to lift heavy bags of soils, stones and larger plants.
• Knowledge of gardening and grounds keeping techniques (such as planting, pruning, weeding and trimming)
• Familiarity with gardening tools.
• Interest in horticulture and passionate about nature.
Landscapers are not required to undergo post-secondary education to go into this trade. However, experience in grounds maintenance and a background in horticulture may increase chances of landing a job. On the other hand, landscapers who are passionate about the design of outdoor green space may enroll in further education to become a landscape architect.
If the idea of working with plants and green spaces interests you, a career as a landscaper can be very rewarding. In order to increase your chances of being hired as a landscaper, you may want to gain some experience working at a nursery or doing some gardening work for residents within your local community as a part time job while you are still in school.
On the other hand, if you are someone who is more academically driven and want to focus more on the strategy and design of green spaces, you should consider a career as a landscape architect. There are Bachelor and Associates degree programs offered in this area at colleges throughout the country. Online and in-class courses are available depending on students’ preferences.
Students who are keen to pursue a career in landscaping should talk to their school’s career counselors for more information or contact colleges’ admission/recruitment staff if they plan on enrolling in a post-secondary program.
1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Grounds Maintenance Workers: Occupational Outlook Handbook. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/building-and-grounds-cleaning/grounds-maintenance-workers.htm