An experienced landscaper may work with a crew to maintain lawns, plant retaining walls, patios, and design outdoor spaces. You might even be able to start your own business. There are many paths that you can take to become a professional landscaper if this type of work interests you.
What makes a good landscaper?
Rossen Landscape, located in Great Falls, Va., near Washington D.C. is owned by Jeff Rossen. He says that the most important thing he looks for in potential employees is their work ethic. He says, “You want anyone who is willing to work.” Rossen believes he can train employees on most jobs in his company. However, landscaping is not for the faint-hearted. This requires physical labor and hard work, so workers need to be ready for it.
The majority of lawn crews work outdoors, riding on mowers or using grass trimmers. Install crews dig trenches and carry and set heavy wall blocks. They also lay sod and mulch. Landscape designers and horticulturalists work in offices, but require more experience in the field.
Although a GED or high school diploma is not required for landscaping, most employers prefer this minimum requirement. Because of the frequent changes in job sites, reliable transportation is essential. A driver’s license would be an advantage. This job requires bending and lifting. Although seasonal work may not be available in the northern states, snow removal is often done during winter months.
Find a Path
A trade school that offers an associate degree in landscape design and horticulture is a good option for those who want to enter the field. These programs are often used by landscape companies like Rossen’s to recruit.
Rossen offers internship training to promising students, regardless of whether they are enrolled in a degree or not. Interns learn basic skills and the business side of the operation. They can then become crew leaders, salespeople or designers, as well as horticulturalists.
There is still time to advance
Many tradespeople begin their career as a member of a team and then work their way up. A state license is required for certain tasks like the application of pesticides or fertilizers. Generally, however, the state doesn’t regulate general landscaping tradespeople.
A formal apprenticeship program has been created for landscapers. It was developed recently to match job seekers and employers who are struggling to fill crews. This program includes 2,000 hours of training on the job and 144 hours of instruction in classroom or online. It is equivalent to approximately a year of progress or 18-24 months of work experience. The National Association of Landscaping Professionals states that apprentice wages are slightly more than those of a general worker and rise as they reach program benchmarks.