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How does someone become an expert on Gardening, get certified and make it a career?

I am interested in turning my small time hobby of gardening into a bit of a career. Are there classes, certifications, training that I can take in order to become an expert on plants, trees, etc? I’d like to have a deep knowledge of the various kinds of trees, shrubs, flowers that work in different climates, how to best plant and maintain them, to design landscapes with a variety of well-coordinated plants, etc. Should I try to become a certified arborist? Where do I start exploring this potential new career direction? Thanks.

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5 Responses to “How does someone become an expert on Gardening, get certified and make it a career?”

  1. Kacky said :

    There’s 2 ways you can go. Start by taking the Master Gardener course form your local co-operative extension, then apply for jobs and gain experience that way.

    Or, go for your bachelor’s and possibly even master’s degree in horticulture or any of the related fields that your local college offers.

    Good luck and go for it!


  2. PunkVader said :

    If you are comfortable with distance learning, this program is absolutely fantastic:

    This is where I got my landscape design degree. Its a 25 assignment program that you work at your own pace and you have 24 months to complete it (can be completely in 9 to 12 months depending on how much free time you have. 10-12 hours a week is a good estimate). It is based in New Zealand so as for learning specific plants for your region, you won’t get much info and it is suggested that you take a horticulture class at a community college and the head tutor gives you a list of recommended books.

    A recommended book I use (living in Texas) is called Home Landscaping Texas published by Creative Homeowner authored by Greg Grant and Roger Holmes. Creative Homeowner makes many, many books for different regions so finding one for your state shouldn’t be too difficult.

    The online class is inexpensive in my opinion (~$1400) compared to what it would cost to go back and get a 4 year degree at a major university. When I completed my course, I too took the Master Gardener classes and the volunteer work and became a Master Gardener. The online course gives details on how to start your own business, dealing with clients, creating databases for your plants, surveying, identifying needs and problems with people’s yards. It really was a fantastic course and I’m doing quite well with its experience.

    Another great thing about the course is, its not a pass/fail sort of class. If you submit an assignment that is not up to the standards required, your tutor will send it back with comments and suggestions and allow you to do it over. The goal of the program is not to weed out people who aren’t cut out for it, but to help anyone interested in becoming a landscape designer, become the BEST landscape designer they can be. All assignments are submitted via e-mail and all drawings our done using Autosketch (~$125). The course provides 8 modules to get you familar with using Autosketch, so no worries if you’ve never used CAD program before.

    Good luck and enjoy it. Its absoluetly the most fun I’ve ever had working.

  3. devilishblueyes said :

    Yeah there are. Normally it is referred to as landscape architecture or landscaping design. Normally, for a degree such as that it is good to check out your agricultural schools. Purdue University has a very good landscaping program.

    Below is a website to their school of agriculture.

    They also do a alot of tree research at Purdue. Pretty much anything you want to learn about plants, they have studies probably regarding it. You can even learn how to genetically cross one type of plant with a totally different species of plant.

    My roommate at Purdue was majoring in landscape architecture, so I learned a good bit about it. One thing I’ll mention though. Is that it does require a lot of time and effort if you are going into that field. Some of the design projects take a lot of hours to complete and you have to memorize when all the different plants flower, how long they flower for, how big they get, what kind of soil they like, etc. My roommate studied a lot and his senior year he practically lived in the Horticulture building doing his design projects. Some of his landscaping projects were for major road and urban renewal projects around the state. So if you go there, you’re work will get seen. I know my roommate did some landscaping for some of the Indiana Pacers players and he did some once for Mr. T. One of his friends did some for Michael Jordan. I remember him telling me what Jordan told his friend. “I don’t care what you do as far as the landscaping. Just don’t touch the putting greens.” I got a laugh out of that.

  4. SonoranDesertGirl said :

    If you are serious about doing this I would advise taking a college course – either a bachelors degree or an associates degree in horticulture. As a professional horticulturist I have to admit that my co-workers and I tend to see Master Gardener programs & such as more for amateurs – whether this is valid of not is very debatable, however, if you are loooking to for a career in horticulture then it is something to consider.

    One way to see what you really like & to get to talk to more professionals is to do something like volunteering at a botanical garden or some other gardening type of institution.
    One word of warning: having changed careers myself from an office job career to horticulture, horticulture or gardening is pretty hard work – working outside in all condtions etc. It also tends to be pretty low paid and can often just be seasonal, depending on where you live, It sounds like an ideal, fun, relaxing career, but, much as I love my job, I sometimes wonder if it would not have been best to leave it as a hobby.

    I am not trying to discourage you in any way, I just would like to give you a balanced view of the career.

  5. cactusone said :

    go to a college offering Horticultural certificates.


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