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).


(Posted initially under botany but probally belongs here)

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I'm not sure what exactly "horticulture technician" means, but if it is a 2 year degree (AA or ATA) or certification program at a community college, you should be pretty adequately prepared to fill most positions at a retail or wholesale nursery or greenhouse. Be aware that this is only enough education to get your foot in the door - you will learn twice as much in one season on the job as you did your entire two years in school.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2005 at 10:41PM
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When it comes to degrees, certification, and licensing in the green industry and the ability to get a job, the most important thing is the knowledge and experience you gain and project from the program rather that the mention of the fact that you passed it, by my observation.

In other words, the person doing the hiring knows what he wants out of the prospective employee. If he sees that you have what he needs regardless of how you got it, you will be wanted. If you have a level of achievement on paper it adds to YOUR credibility, but will not automatically put you over a knowledgable and skilled person without the paper.

Whatever avenue you follow, do it because it makes you better at what you are trying to do. There is no paper bus ticket in the green industry that you can prepay and then have IT take you where you want to go.

These may help you get an interview, but no one is looking to fill a job based solely on a degree, certificate, or license. The interview and past history is what will make you or break you.

Get in a program that will train you well for what you want to do. A combination of school and job experience would be the best. School will never replace experience, but it will accelerate your ability to gain from the experience that follows it.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2005 at 6:20AM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

I'm sure a lot depends on the supply and demand of workers where you live. If you want to go to school, great, but you can probably get your foot in the door without it if you are responsible and willing to work hard.

I started working part-time at a garden center when my child was older. I was a self-taught plant nut but had no experience in the field or credentials. She was desperate and willing to take a chance. The pay and working conditions were not great, but I got experience. The following year, she sold the nursery to a large chain. I got hired there because the president had remembered how friendly I was when he was posing as a customer to check out the place.

A year after that, I got into the field of interiorscaping (maintaining plants in offices, restaurants, etc.). I imagine my garden center experience helped me get that job.

You might want to look into working part-time in the spring when the industry is desperate for help and will hire anyone who breathes. See how you like it, get some experience, and make some connections in the industry. Once you get to know a few people, it seems that everyone knows everyone, and you can network your way into where you want to go. Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 4, 2005 at 5:09PM
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Horticultural Technician = interior plant maintenance to me. In fact, interior plant maintenance want ads were just about the ONLY ones using the terms "Horticultural" or "Horticulture" some years ago. Read the college department's description of the degree program to find out what they are talking about.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2005 at 9:34PM
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georgez5il(z5 IL)

One additional approach....... Ask for the name & phone number of several recient graduates..... & ask what they thought of the program & what they are doing now & how the course prepared them. etc...........

    Bookmark   February 4, 2005 at 11:23PM
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creatrix(z7 VA)

Just be aware that most of the work in Hort. is seasonal- spring and summer especially. Full or part-time work in the winter is hard to come by. It's one of the reasons the field has trouble getting good help. Some larger wholesale growers and nurseries keep a staff year-round, but most retail centers have mostly manager types and a few staffers on hand in the off season. In my area, there is a demand for perennial bed maintenance (weeding, deadheading, cutting back)- but finding knowlegable folks for 8-9 months (no benefits) is tough. There's no income to pay folks in the off season.

Susan K

    Bookmark   February 20, 2005 at 7:04PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

Interior plant maintenance can be a decent job. It has the advantage of not being seasonal and you don't have to work outdoors for long periods in extreme weather conditions. I have found all kinds of titles, not always Horticultural Technician, for the job. Makes it hard to search online!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2005 at 5:55AM
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wyndyacre(z6B SW Ont.)

I live in Ontario and am a Horticulturist for a municipality. I know the Horticulture Technician program which you refer to-it is offered at our local college. I think you will find that the jobs open to you after finishing will be ones at local nurseries, greenhouses, HD, etc. These for the most part are low paying, no health benefits, only 6 months of work a year. Have I talked you into the hort field yet? :) That's just the reality of working in horticulture in Ontario. You have to love what you're doing, not just for the money. If you're lucky and persistant, you can do better by getting on with a city parks dept. It's still seasonal work but pays more-it took me a few years to get one of these jobs.
If you are returning to the job force and will be a mature student perhaps you could consider the Ontario Horticulture Apprenticeship Program instead. This program allows you to work in the hort field during the "season" and go to school during the winter-for 2 months the first winter and 3 months the second. It is quite an intensive course, covering all the same subjects as the Technician program. You go to school for 8 hours a day, Monday to Friday. It costs $200.00 per month of schooling and you can collect unemployment insurance while you're going to school and/or laid off and a paycheck while you're working. It's offered at selected colleges across Ontario and you can find out about it through your local Human Resources office or a college. You need 4000 hours work experience and passing grades to write the Provincial Certification test.
This is what I did after getting laid off from the petrochemical industry and deciding to follow my passion (and not my bank account). I found businesses are very open and even prefer to hire grads of the OHAP because they were often more mature and they had lots of practical experience in addition to the "book learning", something the 20 year olds coming out of the 2 year Hort Technician Program didn't often have.
Hope this info is of some use to you. I'm in my 40's and found this was the most ideal way to get the education while still being able to work and pay the bills. Please feel free to Email me for more info.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2005 at 10:06PM
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plantman314(z5-6 StL, MO)

I have a bachelor's in Plant Science from a state university, and the most important thing that I learned is I can tap a keg in under 10 second.
Seriously though I realized that from working at a nursery/garden center for two years I knew more about the plants and the business than all of my fellow graduates on graduation day. I obviously learned a lot by getting a formal education, but the practical knowledge I have from work experience can not be measured in credit hours.
I also realized that four years of working would have given me boost careerwise.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2005 at 10:48PM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

Here is an ad from the Boston newspaper for 2 positions: a horticultural technician and an "operations" deliver/install person:

Horticulture Plant Lovers Wanted! Horticultural Techs & Drivers Evergreen Tropical Interiors, Boston's premier interiorscape Co. is growing and has openings in the Maintenance and Operations dept. Health/Dental/401K. Fax resume (preferred) to 617-479-3232 or call 617-479-1700 after 10:00am. INDUSTRY EXPER NECESSARY. Technician: care for plants in client offices in greater Boston. Must be neat, friendly & have own vehicle. Operations: deliver & install plant material. Must be professional and have clean driving record.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2005 at 2:26PM
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scrutinizer(z5 NY)

The School of Horticulture & Agribusiness offers a Horticultural Technician Program (Co-op), a post-secondary program designed to prepare graduates to work effectively in a variety of positions in the horticultural industry where knowledge and skills in horticultural techniques are required. Also offers a Greenhouse Technician (Co-op), Landscape Technician (Co-op) and Winery and Viticulture Technician Program (Co-op). Programs offer practical instruction and the opportunity to learn and practice in the industry.

Here is a link that might be useful: School of Horticulture

    Bookmark   December 5, 2006 at 11:04AM
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