By Daniel Fuller
Last month we looked at six of ten career pathways in amenity horticulture. They included 1) Production, 2) Retail nurseries, 3) Plant breeding, 4) Garden Design and Landscape Architecture, 5) Landscape construction, and 6) Landscape maintenance. This month we look at the remaining four sectors.
7. Leadership, supervision & management
Transitioning into a leadership or management role is a natural next step for many professionals in the above-mentioned sectors. Once you’ve learnt how to do the job properly, you might be promoted to overseeing others who are working on the tools.
The terminology can differ from workplace to workplace, but a team leader often refers to someone who’s still working on the ground, such as the person who’s writing notes in the phone or driving the ute. They’re the one who’s directly responsible for the final outcome of works performed.
It sounds like a glamorous job, but it’s not for everyone. There’s more stress involved due to the extra responsibility, and managing people can be very difficult. Especially when you’re not the one who’s curating the team. There’s usually only a slight increase in pay at this level compared with the people you’re supervising.
After a few years of leading smaller crews, you can work your way up the ladder to supervising the depot, managing contracts or even becoming CEO of a company. This is where the pay can increase significantly.
While it’s easy enough to reach a team leader position at a smaller company, if you’d like to progress to higher levels of management, you’ll need to join a larger company.
Above and beyond a technical horticulture-related qualification, a qualification in business or management can be beneficial but not always required. A larger company will often invest in your career progression if they believe you’ve got what it takes.
Not everybody wants to progress into a management role, but at a certain point you might want to get off the tools. Sales is a pathway that most people may not consider, but you can earn a lot of money in this sector without putting your body on the line.
Sales roles in amenity horticulture involve promoting and selling products or services to businesses or consumers. This can involve working for a company that sells chemicals and fertilisers, a gardening equipment manufacturer, or a larger landscaping company.
Sales professionals need excellent communication skills, persuasive abilities, and a good understanding of their products. There are formal sales, marketing and business qualifications and those are great. However, you don’t need one to get a job as a salesperson.
In fact, you don’t even need any experience in the industry at all, but it sure helps. If you’re able to speak the same language as the people you’re selling to and answer their specific questions, it’ll be easier to earn their trust.
Forget the stereotype of the sneaky snake oil salesperson. A good salesperson acts with integrity in the service of their clients, helping them to find the best solution for their particular problems. It’s a highly honourable and virtuous job that you can be proud to undertake.
After a significant amount of time working in the industry, you might be ready to give back to the next wave coming into the industry, as well as seasoned industry professionals who are upskilling.
Education roles in amenity horticulture usually refer to nationally accredited TAFE teachers, which require a formal qualification in your industry, significant ongoing experience and a training and assessment qualification (usually a Cert 4 in Training and Assessment (TAE).
However, there are also informal qualifications that require teachers such as the Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) which is taught at farms and community centres. There are also other informal courses offered by Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) like ACS Distance Education that don’t require teachers to have their TAE qualification.
Not everybody was born to be a teacher. It requires serious emotional intelligence, empathy and an ability to communicate complicated concepts to people who may not understand initially. There are roles in-person and remotely online.
University-level lecturing usually requires a strong academic background with research experience and sometimes a PhD.
10. Media & content creation
If you’re willing to work for free, and you understand that seeking approval from strangers is a fool’s errand, but there’s something inside of you that loves sharing plant knowledge anyway, maybe you’re built for media and content creation.
Whether you’re interested short-form or short-form videos, photos, audio or text content, there are dozens of platforms for you to get your message out there. You can create content for TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, podcasting platforms, blogs, print magazines, and potentially even TV producers.
You’re not going to be the next Gardening Australia presenter overnight. And it’ll probably take years of dedication to your craft before you gain a significant following that you can monetise. A media channel is a way to build an audience, which you can then monetise by offering products, services, informal courses, or advertising spaces.
A career in media and content creation carries a higher responsibility than any other sector we’ve talked about so far. If you stuff up a few plants in production, or you design a public garden poorly, you’re only affecting a few people. If you spread misinformation on the internet, you can make hundreds or thousands of novice gardeners fail and then give up on gardening.
At least a TAFE teacher is held to a certain level through regulations and they have pre-set coursework that they have to teach. They aren’t just making stuff up on the fly like you’ll have to do as a content creator.
If you’re self-starting, you don’t need any formal qualifications in the field, although they can add credibility to what you’re saying. Just know that if you haven’t done the hard work in the garden, it’ll be obvious to potential audience members that may know more than you do. And that could be a little bit embarrassing.
Words like “often,” “usually,” and “sometimes” are your friends – use them in place of “always” because there’s usually an exception to each piece of advice you offer about plants.
Amenity horticulture is more than just mowing lawns, pruning plants and spraying weeds. It’s a rich industry with literally hundreds of career trajectories that you could take, moving through the different sectors. Of course, I didn’t touch on every sector you can work in, but hopefully these two articles have given you some inspiration to plan your dream plant-related career.
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