What Is a Horticulturist?
Horticulture is a form of agriculture that deals, particularly with the reproduction of plant life. A horticulturist is someone who is an expert in garden cultivation and management and works with plants. They are generally responsible for monitoring soil health. The horticultural sectors are an excellent way of gaining people management and logistics/planning experience in a fast-paced environment.
What Does It Take?
You can get into this job through:
- A college course
- High-level / higher-level apprenticeship
- Applying directly
- University Degree
- Training with a professional body such as MDS
Employers might ask for GCSEs in grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) in maths, English, and science.
Skills and Knowledge
Within business horticultural roles, the skills you will need can be broken down into soft and hard skills. Soft skills are more transferable skills, whereas hard skills focus more on role-specific ability. There are many kinds of soft and hard skills but we will break down the most common ones.
Horticulture Soft Skills
- Ability to work and manage your own workload
- Problem-solving ability
- Excellent planning skills
- Communication and interpersonal skills
- Management skills
- Ability to work as part of a team
- Attention to detail
- Ability to analyse data
- Analytical skills
Horticulture Hard Skills
- Logistics and planning skills
- Knowledge surrounding growing conditions
- Pest Management
- Yield Analysis
- Operational Costs
What Will You Do?
- Team planning and scheduling
- Managing teams to cultivate plant produce
- Monitor the quality and the health of the produce
- Planning daily production schedules for production departments
- Resolving and troubleshooting any problems that may arise
- Liaising with logistics staff with regard to shipping times
- Monitoring any work in progress or previously completed work in order to rotate stock and minimise waste
- Briefing senior management on plans and forecasts
The work environment for a horticulturist can change depending on the task or organisation you are working for. You may end up in an office or lab environment if you are performing research, or you may end up in a field if you are analysing a growth environment.
A lot of horticultural management roles fall within a planning type role where you are managing teams to meet targets. No two days will be the same and you will have the opportunity to work on-site and in an office environment – sometimes even travelling between sites.
Career Path and Progression
It is beneficial to have a passion for the sector, which can be demonstrated through work experience in horticultural retail or gardening.
- Nursery Assistant
- Farm Worker
- Horticultural Manager
As you gain more experience, you’ll typically go on to supervise a team of workers within the production, marketing, or even retail operations of commercial horticulture.