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Love being outside? A career in landscaping could be right for you

The landscaping industry is struggling to attract newcomers to the sector. It has to compete against other trades like electricians and plumbers that are often paid higher wages and seem to be more highly regarded than landscaping.

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As my family’s business involves landscaping it was always likely that it would be the career choice for me.  Many of the people in my team never planned to have a career in landscaping, it just seemed to happen.  People often opt for a landscaping role when they realise, they prefer to work outside than be stuck in an office, factory or warehouse.

The landscaping industry is struggling to attract newcomers to the sector.  It has to compete against other trades like electricians and plumbers that are often paid higher wages and seem to be more highly regarded than landscaping.  One of my colleagues said landscapers are just seen as working in the mud, but what we create is often the first thing people see on a site so it is important.

Different jobs in landscaping

You need to understand that there are lots of different types of roles in landscaping including:

  • Grounds Maintenance Operatives / Landscape Workers – responsible for cutting grass, pruning hedges, shrub bed maintenance, fertilising, planting, watering, trimming, raking etc
  • Groundskeeper / Groundsperson – look after cricket pitches, football pitches, rugby pitches or golf courses.
  • Landscape designer – are involved with the landscape design, and selects which plants and trees will create the best effect.
  • Landscape architect – oversee the creation of outdoor spaces.  They might work with engineers to look at how roads and structures will work in the new space etc

I’ll be focusing on Grounds Maintenance Operatives.  For more information on the qualifications you need for the other roles see the National Careers Service website.

Why consider a career in Grounds Maintenance?

  1. Working outside – this is the most quoted reason when I ask people why they love their job.
  2. Seeing the difference your work makes – people get a real kick when the see how they have helped transform a site and how proud the customer is of their work
  3. Chance to learn new skills – if you want to progress you need to keep learning new skills including PA1 and PA6 weed spraying license, turf laying qualification etc
  4. Opportunity to progress – there are many companies offering landscaping services.  If you gain qualifications, work hard and to a high standard you should go far.  You often hear about small landscaping companies but Horticultural Week reported recently that the top 20 landscape contractors boast a combined turnover of £961.8 million.  So, there are lots of big landscaping companies along with numerous small landscaping organisations where you could work.

How do I start my career in landscaping?

You could start by volunteering your services so you gain some experience.  You might want to find out about volunteering opportunities on council websites like the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk.  Also, don’t be afraid to ask friends and family if they know of organisations where you might be able to gain some experience.

Many landscaping companies take on apprentices.  At CGM Group we see the value in apprenticeship schemes and were delighted to win the Pro Landscaper Apprenticeship Scheme Award earlier this year.  We took on two apprentices this year, and this can be a useful way to gain experience whilst earning.  Find out more about apprenticeship opportunities at https://www.gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship

Ask your local college what courses they offer, they might let you study a City and Guilds Horticultural course or gain a diploma in Countryside and Wildlife Management.

If you love being outside then I would really encourage you to consider a career in landscaping – good luck!

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