CHOOSING A CAREER / SEP. 19, 2014
version 8, draft 8

How to Become a Landscaper and Groundskeeper

landscaper

Are you are looking for a change of career in the hope of escaping the office? Do you have green fingers and a love of the outdoors? If so, a career as a landscaper and groundskeeper may be just what you are looking for.

 
What does a Landscaper and Groundskeeper do?

The main role of a landscaper and groundskeeper is to create and maintain attractive green spaces. The landscaping part of the role would include either drawing designs or working with a draftsman to produce a design that meets the requirements of the client/owner of the land. Working from this design, the landscaper will then source and order all the seeds, plants and other materials necessary to create the desired look. Either independently or as part of a group of other tradesmen, the landscaper will then dig and prepare the ground to allow the planting of the seeds, plants and shrubs and the placement of garden structures and ornaments.

Once the green space has been completed, it is then the role of a groundskeeper to maintain the area. This would include cutting the grass, pruning the plants, repairing structures where necessary and dealing with any plant diseases or pest infestations that may occur. 

Salary

Since this is often a self-employed role, earnings can be unpredictable. Work tends to be more abundant during the warmer months of the year, so at other times earnings can be significantly lower. Overall, with experience and a healthy client base, the maximum yearly salary could be in the region of £30,000. However, a successful business with numerous high-profile clients could generate more than this.

Starting Salary

  Starts at around £16,000 plus (National Careers Service)

Average Hourly Rate

  £8.51 per hour (PayScale)

With Experience

  £30,000 or more


Skills Required

Some of the important skills and abilities required for this role include:

  • A reasonable level of fitness
  • Creativity and an eye for design
  • The ability to listen to clients and translate their requirements into a suitable design
  • Good organisational skills
  • Business acumen
  • The ability to deal with issues in a timely manner and meet deadlines
  • A knowledge of seeds, plants, pests, potential diseases and remedies
  • The aptitude to use garden tools and machinery where necessary


Qualifications and Entry Requirements 

There are no formal entry requirements to become a landscaper and groundskeeper. What matters is your knowledge and ability to do the job efficiently and effectively.

However, if you would like to pursue an academic route, there are a number of options.

Institutions, such as the well-respected Writtle College, offer degrees in Horticulture and the Royal Horticultural Society offers a wide range of courses and workshops focused on many aspects of gardening and horticulture. Depending on how much time and money you have to spare, you could attend short courses and workshops or commit to more in-depth courses which could potentially lead to gaining the degree-level qualification Master of Horticulture Award.

If education isn’t an option, apprenticeships may provide an alternative route into this profession. Whilst an apprentice, you will be able to earn a decent salary and learn at the same time.
 

Career Prospects and Development 

During the course of your daily work, your skills will naturally improve the more you do a certain task. There are also qualifications you can take while you work to help further your career.

National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) or Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQ) are work based awards. This means that there is no formal examination; rather the qualification is gained by passing at-work assessments. A portfolio highlighting the tasks achieved at work is also submitted to the assessor allowing the candidate to show his or her ’competencies’ in the profession. In terms of which NVQ to take, there are many subjects to choose from so it really depends on the specifics of your day-to-day work. However, potential options include Arboriculture, Amenity Horticulture, Forestry and Floristry.

Alternatively, The City and Guilds of London Institute offer industry-recognised qualifications in many land-based subjects, up to an equivalent of degree level standard. They, along with Lantra and Basis, also provide specific ’competencies’ in areas such as chainsaw or pesticides use, which are required if you wish to offer those services to your clients.


So, hopefully this guide has given you the information you need to start your new career as a landscaper and groundskeeper. 

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