If you enjoy working for the well-being of people and health promotion, an ideal profession you may consider is that of a horticultural therapist. In this humane profession, you get to work with people recovering from illness and those with learning and behavioural difficulties or people with mental ill health.
Horticultural therapists are practitioners who combine gardening and social services to help disabled or disadvantaged individuals develop.
Day-to-day tasks involve:
- Designing tailor made horticultural programs for people
- Planning daily tasks and activities for individuals
- Liaising with external organizations to provide better opportunities to people
- Monitoring and evaluating individual performances using various techniques and methods
- Maintaining daily records, individual portfolios and carrying out regular appraisals
- Teaching horticultural tasks and activities such as soil preparation, sowing seeds, setting out plants to individuals
- Imparting the knowledge of using materials and tools safely
- Attending meetings and discussions with other professionals, such as social workers
- Consistently motivating individuals and encouraging them to gain pleasure from horticulture
- Promoting horticulture among people through various activities
- Raising funds for developing projects and controlling budgets
- Managing staff
- Planning the design of a school, community or garden
Working Hours and Conditions
- Your working hours may be variable and you may occasionally work evenings and weekends.
- Part-time and freelance work is available.
- You generally work in gardens and associated buildings like greenhouses.
- You are expected to wear uniform as a part of your job.
Your salary may vary between employers and sectors. The average salary levels for horticultural therapists are indicated below:
Mode of employment
from £17,000 to over £25,000 a year
Experienced management roles
from £22,000 to £30,000 a year
To be a horticultural therapist, you don’t need any specific qualification. This profession is open to all graduates but it is recommended that you earn your degree in one of the following subjects:
- Landscape architecture or design
- Occupational therapy
- Psychology or behavioural therapy
- Social work
When seeking employment, pre-entry experience is often desired in social work, teaching, occupational therapy, nursing or horticulture discipline.
To gain required experience, you may join workshops offered by the charity Thrive . They impart the necessary skills and knowledge needed to be a therapist.
If you don’t possess relevant qualification, voluntary work in horticultural activities or special schools may help you a lot.
If you plan to work with children, you need to pass a Disclosure and Barring Service .
Useful link: Lantra: The Sector Skills Council for the Environmental and Land-based Sector (list of courses in horticulture).
Once employed, you are trained on-the-job by your employer.
To hone your skills, you may attend short courses or work towards an industry qualifications in horticulture, like the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Diploma in Horticulture.
Skills and Interests Needed
To be a therapist, you must demonstrate:
- Great inter-personal skills
- Impeccable communication skills
- Friendly and warm disposition
- Be able to stay calm and handle pressure
- Understanding and tolerance towards different cultures and people
- Be able to motivate others
- Strong aptitude for horticulture
- Be able to work alone as well as in a team
Employment is available with:
- Rehabilitation centres
- Community gardens
- Retirement centres
- Correctional facilities
- Charitable and voluntary groups
After gaining enough experience, you may get promoted to supervisory positions. You may also obtain an opportunity to get involved in numerous research projects. After gaining expertise in the field, self-employment and freelancing is also possible.
Last word: This job should be taken very seriously. With your work in this profession, you get a rare chance to make a difference in the lives of many people.