Horticulture Technician

cookie8(zone 5 ON)February 3, 2005

I read on the posted message of Botany Major, I will be re-entering the workforce in a few years (kids will be off to school fulltime) and have been eyeing this field. I don't have the ambition to go to University but I will consider the Horticulture Technician program (2 yrs)at the local college - will this limit you to working as a cashier at the local HD or nursery or will you be able to do greenhouse work (provided you can find a job).


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Cookie, Rather than spending 2 years taking college courses, I'd spend my time learning thru books at library and thru interlibrary loan, plus all the great sites on-line, and workng at a local GOOD nursery. I'll bet they'd welcome training an enthusiastic learner. This way you'd be getting paid, getting practical experience, and book-learning.

If the nursery agreed to really teaching you, not just using you as a cashier-waterer-labeler, I'd think you'd learn more in a shorter time and could then expect more money for your knowledge AND experience. Maybe before the nurseries get too busy you could visit a few and talk with the owners/managers on what route might be best.

Just my thoughts...josh (who also re-entered workforce after 16 years child-raising...now happily retired).

    Bookmark   February 4, 2005 at 6:44AM
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It depends on where you're looking for a job and exactly what kind of work you want. Do you want to work at local garden centers/nurseries, or did you have other thoughts, like working for a university or botanical garden in a greenhouse? The former (garden centers) can probably be accomplished through work, the latter (non-commerical settings)likely will require more education.

For the latter, a 2-year degree from an accredited college will help boost your chances of a more interesting job -- especially combined with work experience (internships, etc). There are things you only learn by working in the field, and insights you gain best through a structured education. If you really want to do university- or private research-type horticulture technician work, a degree (preferably 4-year) might be required.

Talk to the people at the university -- not just the counselors, but the professors who specialize in the areas you're interested in. Tell them what you want to do and ask what they recommend. Of course, a good prof will generally promote education :) but they will be able to give you some guidance. And like Josh suggested, talk to the people at places you're interested in working. Whether it's a nursery or botanical garden or whatever, they'll be able to tell you what they look for in an employee.

Good luck, and have fun! A new direction in life is always exciting!

    Bookmark   February 4, 2005 at 9:47AM
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I teach horticulture at a four year college and I would say that it may be that you could learn things in the academic setting that you might not learn by just working, although I think Josh's suggestion could very well work, too, in some circumstances. Mind you, I'm not one who has ONLY taught; I've got 30 years of experience actually DOING and just relatively recently started teaching. I think it really helps to get some very basic understanding of things like plant physiology, plant pathology, soils, a little chemistry, maybe some business management and other more academic stuff. On the other hand, none of that will do you any good if you don't know the business thoroughly that you are working in and school can't teach you that nearly as well as actually DOING it can. To me, there's a life's worth of ever-changing information to be learned in this field so we will never learn it all and hopefully will be constantly striving to learn more.

If you know yourself well enough to know that you will make yourself learn the un-fun information on your own, such as the kind of info I suggested above, then you could probably do fine w/o the schooling. If you are not that kind of person, then maybe you would benefit from the structure that school provides. Just don't think that it will garauntee you anything in the workplace because it may not... but it will likely help.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2005 at 11:44AM
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serenoa(z8b, FL)

When I am hiring, my perfect job candidate has schooling and practical experience. The schooling gives theoretical understanding that can be applied to a range of situations. Practical experience means the candidate will be productive quickly without a great deal of training. The crucial thing I look for in the interview that does not show up on a resume is a passion for this kind of work.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2005 at 5:07PM
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It's hard to make a case against formal education ... get all the formal training you can ... this is a tuff field to make a good living at .. two year degrees are becoming standard at the best employers ... and it gets harder and harder to go back and complete education while you are working.

Good Day ...

    Bookmark   February 5, 2005 at 7:34PM
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taxonomist(7b VA)

Here in the Commonwealth of Virginia most community colleges which offer a certificate or degree in horticulture are a very poor choice and almost a complete waste of money. I believe that working in one of the fine Canadian public gardens will provide you with a better background than will a school. Some of your country's universities, tho, have terific horticulture courses. Go carefully toward your goal!!!

    Bookmark   January 19, 2006 at 7:20PM
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nyssaman(Z6 ON)

I'm in Canada in southern ontario where most of the fine gardens are and I dont know of any that will hire someone with out the proper training ie. college or univ. If you know a garden in Canada that hires strictly on interest and willingness to learn while working, let me know I would be interested.


    Bookmark   February 9, 2006 at 3:36PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I TOTALLY agree that college and/or university credentials are essential for many career opportunities in this field. Required, as a matter of fact. The ideal employee will be one with a strong 2 or 4 (or more) year degree, PLUS plenty of dirt under the fingernails. The credentials will open more doors in your chosen field, that is a certainty.

The combination of formal education and practical hands-on experience give you the not only the 'How' things should be done, but the 'Why'. It's a whole lot easier to learn about soil science and plant physiology in a classroom setting than to try to glean information on your own.

Ask for the track record of employed students from the place you are thinking of taking classes. That's one way to learn about the quality of the program.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2006 at 9:37AM
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    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 3:41PM
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chervil2(z5 MA)

Even if you end up as a cashier in a horticultural setting, you could look at the situation as a stepping stone. Be prepared to move on from any dead end job. Change is good and will help you acquire new job skills in different working environments.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 1:59PM
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cookie8, for 7 years I was classified as a "Horticulture Technician" in the Parks Department of a small city; and I enjoyed it immensely.
The position offered a nice mix of "projects" and "routine" work. The exhilaration of working without close (over-my-shoulder) supervision was well worth the time (two years) and effort (immeasurable) at a Vocational school. Plant ID (right plant; right place), Tree biology, Pruning, Chemical weed control, Lawn Care and Irrigation were the major areas where I had to apply what I had learnt.
I left to work at an upscale shopping Mall. My area of responsibility extended "from the walls to the fence" as the General Manager expressed it.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 6:07PM
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