What is Horticulture?
Horticulture is a branch of agriculture and focuses on the science, art, technology and business of growing and studying plants. This includes plant cultivation, conservation, landscaping, garden design, landscape restoration, construction, maintenance and arboriculture
Working in horticulture will enable you to apply knowledge and skills to grow plants for food, personal or social needs, aiming to improve plant yields, nutritional value, quality and resistance to disease, insects and environmental stresses.
There’s a range of careers you can enter through a horticulture course including:
• Landscape Gardener
• Tree Planter
• Tree Surgeon
• Nursery Propagator
• Fresh Produce Inspector
• Research Technologist
• Parks and Gardens Manager
• Park Ranger
People working in horticulture can be employed across a range of horticulture sectors. These can be split into two broad categories, the amenity sector and the production sector. The amenity sector is involved with growing plants for ornamental or recreational purposes, while the production sector is largely involved with producing food crops.
Major sectors include:
• Floriculture (the production of flowers and foliage)
• Arboriculture (Tree management)
• Parks and Gardens
• Viticulture (winemaking)
• Amenity horticulture (growing and harvesting fruit, vegetables and nuts)
• Turf Management
• Pest Management
• Horticultural Research
Horticulture Industry in Australia
The horticulture industry is Australia’s second-largest rural production industry and employs around 30% of all workers in the agriculture, horticulture and conservation industry.
According to the Australian Apprenticeships and Traineeships Information Service, amenity horticulture is one of the country’s fastest-growing industries, employing 125,000 people and turning over $6 billion per year. This is expected to increase thanks to new and larger export markets arising from Australia’s free trade agreements.
Job Outlook for Horticulture Professionals
Job openings for gardeners or landscapers and park rangers look positive, with employment levels rising by 16.6% and 6.2% over the past five years respectively.
Those working as a Landscape Gardener, Arborist, Garden Centre Assistant, Horticultural Assistant, Nursery Worker, Gardener or Parks and Gardens Tradesperson can expect to earn $950 per week. Landscape designers earn the most, with an average weekly income of $1,400.
There are many TAFE horticulture courses in Melbourne, Sydney or all over Australia for you to choose from, as well as plenty of online options.
A Certificate in Landscaping or Horticulture can qualify you to undertake routine work in fields including, sports turf management, retail nursery, production nursery, arboriculture or floriculture or can be a pathway to further learning. A Popular course is a Certificate II in Horticulture, which can take between six months to a year to complete but can be finished earlier if done online.
Another option is a higher level Certificate, such as a Certificate IV in Horticulture which is an excellent way to progress to a management position or supervise a nursery or gardens. Graduates of Certificate IV courses will develop a broad range of specialised knowledge and skills that can be applied in various contexts in the workplace.
A Diploma or Advanced Diploma in Horticulture qualify you to undertake advanced skilled professional or technical work. A Diploma provides you with a broad knowledge of a specific area and usually takes around two years to complete.
A Bachelor in Environmental Horticulture or Viticulture a can give you the practical and theoretical skills and knowledge for professional work. A Bachelor Degree can also be a pathway to postgraduate study and takes around 3-4 years of full-time study to complete.
The main areas of focus are in plant science, management and knowledge of sustainability and rural industries. It’s also vital for anyone looking to manage their own business or undertake a management position, with many Bachelor of Horticulture courses also covering areas of finance, business and communication.
A Postgraduate Degree, such as Master of Urban Horticulture or Master of Viticulture and Oenology will give you advanced knowledge and skills to prepare you for career advancement or professional practice. A Masters degree usually takes one and a half to two years to complete and can be done by either coursework or research. As well as meeting Bachelor’s degree requirements, to undertake a Masters degree you must successfully complete an undergraduate degree and meet minimum GPA requirements.
Is Horticulture Right For You?
To work in Horticulture, you need to have a genuine interest in plants, an appreciation of nature and enjoy working outdoors. Being outdoors will also require good physical fitness and the ability to undertake manual labour and stand for long periods of time.
Good observational skills are important in identifying plants and what environments will suit them, as well as record-keeping skills. Skills in problem-solving, analysing environments, critical thinking and the ability to work independently are also a must-have.
If you love being out and about and immersing yourself in nature, don’t settle for a desk job, a career in horticulture is calling your name!