What Is a Horticulture Specialist?

Horticulture specialists use plants to create and design gardens and lush landscapes at hotels or city parks. Read on to find out more about education and skills requirements, as well as how much you might earn in the field. Schools offering Floral Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How Do I Become a Horticulture Specialist?

Numerous colleges and universities offer certificate programs in landscape and horticulture technology. Coursework often includes introductory topics in plant identification and turfgrass science. According to some schools, these 1-year programs can prepare you for entry-level employment.

However, some employers state that you must have at minimum an associate's degree along with 2-3 years of experience in horticulture, landscape design or gardening, according to December 2010 job postings on sites such as ForFarmers.com and Monster.com. These 2-year programs include additional coursework in irrigation systems. You may also learn how to diagnose plant diseases, create landscape designs and propagate plants.

A bachelor's degree in horticulture and landscape architecture can also prepare you for this career field. These programs often include coursework in the biological sciences. You'll also learn how to manage a greenhouse or nursery and implement sustainable design practices. Most associate's and bachelor's degree programs allow you to practice what you've learned through internships at local botanical or public gardens.

What Skills Will I Need?

As a horticulture specialist, you'll maintain and care for plants, flowers and trees. You may need the physical ability to lift more than 50 pounds of material and withstand extreme weather conditions, according to Monster.com's job postings for horticulture specialists in December 2010.

You may also be called upon to be creative and intuitive in designing landscapes and garden environments. Since you may interact with customers or visitors as well as employers, you'll need strong communication skills. Depending upon the state in which you're seeking employment, you may also need a pesticide application license.

What Kind of Salary Can I Expect?

You may find employment as a horticultural specialist at botanical gardens, hotels, theme parks, resorts, public recreation areas and residential communities. Although compensation may vary by location and experience, annual salaries for horticulturists ranged from $27,571-$44,394 as of December 2010, according to PayScale.com.

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