How To Become A Horticulturist
Horticulture is a field that encompasses the science, technology and business aspects of growing plants. Plant conservation, landscape design, and gardening are all part of horticulture. As a horticulturist, you study plants as your occupation. You study how to properly cultivate plants in order to improve plant yields, quality, nutrition, and many other important things. There are many specializations within this field. People usually become horticulturists through education and certification.
Why Become A Horticulturist
There are many different facets to horticulture, and this is a great field to explore if you want a job that offers the opportunity to explore different career paths. As a horticulturist, you have the ability to end up in many different areas including farming, research, development, landscaping, or floral design. Most horticulturists spend time working outdoors, but others spend their time working in research laboratories and greenhouses.
As a horticulturist you will plant, produce, harvest, and cultivate plants of every variety. You will grow vegetables, fruits, trees and flowers. You’ll prepare plants for different planting seasons. You will learn how to plant in different conditions, and how to alter plants so that they can continue to thrive even when conditions are not optimal. You may discover how to make plants more nutritious, yield more plants during a harvest, genetically alter plants, or other important findings. You have the ability to be innovative and come up with fascinating new discoveries in your line of work. You may choose instead to go into landscaping and gardening design, helping to improve the quality of local public spaces.
Horticulture is a great job opportunity for somebody who loves gardening as a hobby, is great at science and research, and wants to use their interests to make new discoveries in the field of science.
Horticulturists should possess the following qualities and skills:
- Love the outdoors
- Research skills
- Enjoy gardening
- Customer service
- Good communication
- Problem solver
Horticulturist Work Environment
A horticulturist has a wide range of duties in their occupation. Many work in a laboratory setting, conducting research on plants. They use laboratory equipment and experiments to study plants in detail and learn how to cultivate them properly. A horticulturist works as part of a team of people. They are often meeting with scientists, landscape architects, construction teams, and consultants to discuss their work. Being a horticulturist involves a lot of hands-on work. Horticulturists plant, prune, harvest and work with plants, so they are destined to get dirty. They work outdoors for long periods of time.
The median salary for horticulturists is $39,495 in 2016.
There are many factors that could impact salary in this field. Entry-level workers will earn the lowest salary, but with promotion and years of experience, salaries may increase. A horticulturist who has an advanced degree or certification may earn a higher salary. There are many different specializations within this field. A horticulturist could work in a nursery or greenhouse. The horticulturists who specialize in biotechnology, for example, earn much higher salaries. These are just a few of the factors that go into determining salary in this field.
Horticulturist Career Outlook
Employment for horticulturists is expected to grow by 7 percent from 2014 to 2024, which is average compared to other occupations in the United States.
There are a wide range of jobs in this field and educational requirements vary. There are many positions available that do not need a specific degree. Some people can start working in a nursery or greenhouse with a high school diploma. More advanced employment opportunities will be available for those who seek out more advanced degrees.
If you are interested in a career as a horticulturist, read below for more information.
Step 1: Undergraduate education. For most entry-level jobs, it is recommended that you receive at least a bachelor’s degree. Look for colleges offering programs related to horticulture, plant science, biology, environmental studies, landscape architecture, forestry, botany, agriculture or other related programs. Courses in science, math and related coursework will give you a strong foundation. It takes four years to receive a bachelor’s degree.
Step 2: Get certified. Certification exists for people working as horticulturists. The American Society for Horticultural Science offers the Certified Professional Horticulturist program. In order to qualify for this program you must have worked in horticulture for at least five years. The Soil Science Society of America is another certification available in this field. To qualify, professionals must have five years of experience.
Step 3: Choose a specialization. There are many opportunities available within the field of horticulture. You are easily able to receive an entry-level position at a nursery or greenhouse. But there are other opportunities available in research, biotechnology, or landscape architecture. Earning an advanced degree and additional experience will help with gaining these kinds of positions.