Read about becoming a manager for a nursery that raises and sells plants. Explore the career info for this position, including job duties and salary potential. Review certificate and degree programs that can prepare you to work in the field of plant nursery management.
Plant nursery management involves running a business that grows and sells plants for private or commercial use. This can involve selling plants wholesale or directly to customers through mail order, online or garden outlets. In this field, you may oversee operations that produce a few specialty plants or those that offer a wide selection of plants coming from areas around the globe.
Common positions in plant nursery management you could attain include agricultural manager, nursery or greenhouse manager, horticulturalist and florist. To work in this field, you must be familiar with various types of plants, such as flowering trees, ferns, succulents and tropical species, as well as the care required for each of them. You may need to plant, harvest and cut plants so they're available to your clients as stemmed flowers, potted plants or seedlings. Some careers pertain more to the aesthetic aspects of plant care, such as landscape and floral design.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2010 about 228,600 people worked on farms, nurseries and greenhouses and another 47,850 worked in floral design (www.bls.gov). As of 2011, more than a million peopled worked as agricultural managers, farmers and ranchers. Unfortunately, the BLS projected that between 2008 and 2018, the employment would decrease by two percent for agricultural workers and by three percent for floral designers. It anticipated that employment would increase by six percent for agricultural managers, which is still less than the average growth for all occupations.
Per the BLS in May 2010, the median annual salary for people working in greenhouses and nurseries as laborers was $18,690 and for floral designers it was $23,610. The median weekly wage for agricultural managers was $775 in 2008. Plant nursery managers typically work in greenhouses or nurseries, but you could also manage crop production on farms or work in floral shop. You could even manage a Christmas tree farm, your local botanical garden or a garden center at a grocery store.
To become a plant nursery manager, you'll usually need at least a certificate or an associate's degree in nursery management. Your program might also focus on greenhouse management, landscape management or horticulture. You can expect your topics of study to include plant nutrition, horticultural equipment, plant propagation, pest management, disease control, soil science, greenhouse environments and landscape horticulture. In addition, you might take business and management courses, such as marketing, human resource management and finance, which can help you maintain daily operations and promote a nursery or greenhouse. For some courses, you'll tend plants by working in an on-campus greenhouse or nursery. You may also have the opportunity to complete an internship, where you'll acquire job experience.
Bachelor's degree programs are also available in horticulture with a specialization in greenhouse and nursery management or horticulture landscape management. These programs have additional credits that involve the study plant genetics and the identification of plants and trees in indoor and outdoor landscapes. In addition to training you for a career in plant nursery management, earning this degree can prepare you to complete a master's degree program in plant science, horticulture, environmental science or botany.