Landscaping Careers: Finding A Pathway Through The Industry

Business executives at racecourse


Love seeing an abundance of beautiful plants, both indoors and out? Do you have a green thumb? Then one of the many landscaping careers may be perfect for you. Landscaping jobs abound right now in all sectors.

But what does a career in landscaping actually look like? Do you need specialized education, or can you simply be hands-on with your gardening experience? Is it financially rewarding?

Let’s explore the ins and outs of these diverse career choices in depth. There’s a good reason to put that green thumb of yours to work in this eco-friendly, beautiful, and rewarding field!

This post is sponsored by the National Association of Landscape Professionals, and they’d love for you to consider this enriching field. If you are craving more after you’ve finished reading here, visit their careers site for detailed information on the industry!

Curious about sponsored posts? Click here to read more about our process.

Listen to this post on the Epic Gardening Podcast

Subscribe to the Epic Gardening Podcast on iTunes

What Exactly Is A Landscaping Professional?

Landscape design for golf course
Planning golf courses is all in a day’s work for a landscape designer. Source: junaidrao

In some way, every landscaping professional is integral to making our world a stunning place to be. But what do these people do?

There is a desperate need to keep places maintained. Whether indoors or outdoors, plants invigorate our environments. Landscapers have significant ecological impact in the area where they’re located, bringing green spaces to the public at large.

But there’s a lot which is involved in keeping these green spaces looking good. From the office staff who arrange landscaping or work up the budgets all the way down the line through specialist positions in design, urban planning, and more, organization is key.

Someone needs to maintain that green wall in the local hospital, while another needs to know which plants are allergens so that those don’t make their way indoors. Still more will design the wall and its watering system, arrange for its transportation and installation, etcetera.

It’s not limited to green spaces like public parks, either. All that beautiful foliage at your favorite theme park has to be maintained, and someone has to start seedling plants for the next seasonal display. And very few want to get married in a drab, dead wedding garden!

Landscape professionals find the perfect plants to lend a spooky atmosphere inside professional haunted houses. They make sure that the trees on your block are in perfect shape, and possibly even put up lights in the winter. And yes, they keep your lawn green and lush.

They also make certain that what’s being used is sustainable and eco-friendly, deal with integrated pest management solutions so plants remain healthy, and confirm that the soil is healthy as well.

And while they do these things, they’re also guaranteeing that we’ll have a healthier environment. Trees, plants, and grasses clean the air, reducing pollution levels. Plants reduce noise levels, prevent erosion, act as natural coolants, and create oxygen.

By being in this industry, you are making the world a better place and giving back to your community and to the plants that sustain it.

What Landscaping Careers Entail

Interiorscaping in mall
An interiorscaper brings the outside indoors at a mall. Source: MikeKalasnik

Not all landscaping requires hard physical effort. In fact, an awful lot of it is done from a desk, lab, or air-conditioned and relaxing setting!

Skills in finance and purchasing are just as important to the industry as how to use a shovel. Designers and artists provide layout maps. You may find yourself working from home, in an office, at the local college campus, or even at your favorite sports arena or public playground.

Some positions are greatly aided by college degrees, especially those which focus on design or which are dealing with specialized plants.

As an example, it’s essential for the soil to be tested at a job site before it’s amended, which requires a person with a soil science background. For some, a fiance degree helps them do cost estimates for housing development landscaping work.

But not all positions require degrees. On-the-job training is available for many positions, especially at entry level! If you have an interest in a particular job, you may find that they prefer you to learn how to do things their way from the start and work your way up the ladder.

Nearly a million people work in landscaping jobs right now, and as time goes on that number keeps growing exponentially. In addition, there’s tons of room for advancement through the ranks, ensuring that this isn’t just a short-term placement. It can be a career until you retire.

A Wide Diversity Of Possibilities

Germination testing
Running germination tests on seeds is just one of many types of work in the industry. Source: CIMMYT

I’ve hinted at a few different options in the industry, but let me go over a few landscaping careers in more detail. This is only the beginning, and there’s many more paths which can be followed beyond these!


If you love to relax beneath the canopy of an old oak tree, then you should thank an arborist for its care. These skilled professionals can assist you with everything from where to plant your tree to ensuring it has the chance to outlive you!

A love of the great outdoors is a necessity, and you shouldn’t be afraid of climbing to great heights. As an arborist, you’ll be responsible for the day-to-day care of the trees you oversee, including required pruning, pest management and spraying, and possibly even harvesting fruit.

Arborists consult with many outside organizations such as your local power company to make sure there is a minimal risk of fire danger from power lines. Their knowledge is called on for urban planning, as they can estimate the size of roots and whether they’ll cause road damage.

In some cases, an arborist may have dozens of trees under their care, such as those found in corporate parking lots or at your local park. They can select the perfect tree type for the landscape which they’re overseeing, and make sure it fits the design of the surrounding space.

Trees are such an important part of our landscape, and an arborist ensures that we are taking care of our trees properly so that we can live alongside of them.

Landscape Designers

Formal garden design
Laying out formal gardens is an enjoyable part of landscape design. Source: acme london

Have you ever admired the layout of your favorite B&B’s relaxing grotto, admiring their perfectly-placed plants and shaded areas? Likely, a landscape designer had a hand in its early stages of creation.

Conceptualizing what can fit into a space and drawing plans for its development is an essential beginning point for development. If you have ever sat and daydreamed about how you wanted to lay out your personal garden space, you’ve had a taste of landscape design.

YouTube video

Just think, you could be paid to do that. All it requires is a bit of design training and artistic skill, the ability to accurately render measurements into a set of master plans, and the creativity to dream up immersive environments that match the desires of the location’s owner.

And it’s not just for greenery. A landscape designer is called upon to lay out the pattern upon which your entire yard will be based. If you want a tropical jungle complete with waterfall into your pool or a treehouse high up in your backyard pines, they can design those too!

Interiorscape Professionals

Don’t forget indoor plants! They need love and care as well. And who better to do this than an interiorscape professional?

From living green walls that absorb pollutants in the air to the leafy greenery that’s dotted around your local shopping center’s food court, there are a bounty of indoor plants that need care. Even when you don’t handle the plant care, you offer knowledge on lighting, nutrients and more.

These positions require an eye for detail and a deep knowledge of indoor plants. As many of them are in heavily-trafficked areas, avoiding heavy pollen producers is necessary so they don’t clog the filters of the air conditioning system. Knowing which plants to grow indoors is key.

Often, you’ll be working in a climate-controlled environment like a hospital or office building, making sure that all living things are in pristine condition and ready to be appreciated. No need to work in the hot summer sun when you can be indoors in the cool air!

This is also a great place for those with experience in hydroponics to venture, as many of the plants popular indoors can be grown in the right nutrient solution. There’s no need to dig in the dirt when you’re inside. People who love epiphytic plants will find a home here, too!

Nursery/Greenhouse Professionals

Greenhouse technician
Ensuring that plants thrive in a greenhouse environment is the job of a greenhouse technician. Source: MML

Do you love watching seedling plants emerge from the soil? Have you ever admired the vibrant colors and thick, leathery leaves of rainforest plants and wanted to spend days among them? Well, now you can.

People to start and raise plants for the industry are always in high desire. After all, millions of plants are required to supply the trees, flowers, and shrubs required, and there’s no end to what you may be called upon to grow or where it will end up.

You’ll be the first stop for a number of DIYers who want to beautify their outdoor spaces, so you can be a major influence in what they choose to work with, as well as an educational source. If you know good companion plants or have an eye for color combinations, you can share them!

Not only that, but you’ll be in charge of making sure that the plants and trees that leave your care are in the best possible condition. The proper watering, fertilizing, and weed care ensures that once planted, they will continue to thrive in their new location.

These skilled professionals know their way around a greenhouse, have the tools and skills to draw stunning plants up from soil, and get to watch the birth of new life every day. It’s an invigorating way to make your living!

Lawn Care Technicians

We all love the soft feel of a perfectly-maintained lawn under our bare feet. But lawn care technicians do a lot more than just push a mower.

These technicians actually keep us safer. A well-maintained lawn means that localized fleas, ticks, and mosquitos won’t be as widespread on the property. Further, you’ll have a lack of weeds which might be poisonous to pets or prickly burrs that can get caught in furs and feet.

Whether you work in a residential zone or a commercial one, your knowledge will be called upon to know how to get the green grass to remain in tip-top shape. You’ll need to know when to water, what to use to amend the soil, and how to eliminate weeds.

You’ll need to know the differences between your fesques, bluegrass, or bermudas, and be able to pick the right one for the area you’re dealing with. From seeding onward, you know exactly what is required for the local golf course, baseball field, or your neighbor’s yard.

But just think of how much enjoyment you will get out of watching kids frolicking on the turf you’ve put in place, or the satisfaction of knowing that your favorite baseball team plays on your grass! You can bring picnics to life simply by making a place for them to be held.

Irrigation Specialists

All of us who have grown plants are aware that water is life to our plants. If they don’t have access to water, they won’t be able to grow. And as an irrigation specialist, your job is to make sure that water is readily accessible to them right when it’s needed.

You’ll be designing irrigation systems and insuring that they’ll be installed the right way. Whether it’s simply installing basic soaker hoses in someone’s prize flower beds or working up an entire system for a full lawn and garden irrigation, you’ve got it under control.

In addition, water conservation and efficiency is key. It’s absolutely necessary to ensure that the property owner is not wasting water, especially in areas which are drought-prone.

Not only are irrigation specialists needed for residential properties, but they’re also working at commercial locations and public sites. Cities and sports arenas, parks and recreation facilities, and even greenways along the highways may be in need of your expertise.

A love for the latest technology may serve you well here, as many irrigation systems are now computerized to ensure that they water efficiently and in very specific ways. Setting up systems which will water each zone or location at the right time is within your grasp.

With the responsibilities that irrigation specialists have in making sure that these systems function perfectly while maintaining conservation goals, many locations hire only licensed personnel. As a trained specialist, you’ll have gone through the licensing process and be ready to work!

Other Landscaping Careers

Business executives at racecourse
You can have a landscaping career as an executive, overseeing a company. Source: EABC

But all of the above is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. It’s a tiny subset of the jobs which are available to you if you choose a landscaping career.

Personnel are necessary to man the office. This includes administrative staff and executives to oversee the process, accountants and landscape estimators to crunch the numbers, purchasing managers to get supplies in, and customer service personnel to make your clients happy.

You’ll also need specialized staff such as site supervisors and project managers to oversee larger work. Equipment operators may be called in, especially when moving trees or digging out space for a new pool. Maintenance technicians are needed to keep everything functioning properly.

And nothing would go forward without suppliers who can provide an abundance of mulch, stone, compost, perlite and other amendments, and quality soil, plus the drivers and crew who deliver it. Even compost site operators are involved, turning waste into prime-quality fertilizer.

The National Association of Landscape Professionals has a fantastic site which can provide you a lot more information on the bounty of career choices available to you. You can check it out at this link.

There is truly a position for every skillset out there, and the landscaping industry needs you!

What’s The Average Salary Range?

So you’re interested, but let’s get down to the bottom line: is it lucrative?

With over 300,000 professionals hired every year, there is an unceasing amount of jobs available, and they’re all looking for knowledgeable and skilled personnel to fill them. You should have no problem finding work year-round.

The median salary ranges will vary from job to job and depending on the sector you work in. Often, the low end is $25,000 a year for entry level on positions such as landscape installers or nursery professionals.

Both of those positions can reach heights of around $81,000 a year over time. As they typically require no additional formal education, they’re attainable by almost anyone who’s willing to put the time in.

But what of those which do require a formal education? Estimators and landscape designers often start in the $60,000-$65,000 range and go up from there. And of course, executives and business owners can expect similar starting ranges, with extremely high potential.

Benefits are not included in these estimates. Depending on your workplace and position, the benefits packages can be extremely good as well.

Needless to say, the landscaping careers are not only rewarding, but they are financially stable options with great job security.

If you have a love for glorious greenery around at all times, these landscaping jobs are just waiting for you. What are you waiting for? Put your green thumb to work and add life and color to the lives of everyone in your community!


Gardening Inspiration

How Long Do Hydrangeas Bloom Each Season?

Are your hydrangeas starting to flower, and you've become curious how long their blooms are going to stick around? In this article, gardening expert Jill Drago examines how long most hydrangeas will bloom, depending on the type of species you are growing, and the hardiness zone t hey are grown in.

Gardening Inspiration

How to Prune Basil in 6 Easy Steps

Does your basil need a trim? If you want to prune your garden-grown basil but haven't done it before, you might be wondering where to start. In this article, gardening expert and organic farmer Jenna Rich outlines the six simple steps you can follow for pruning healthy basil plants!