Midwinter is a time when many high-school and college students are narrowing their career-choice options. Opportunities in horticulture and landscaping are abundant for individuals who enjoy working with plants, working outdoors or working with people. There are careers in arboriculture, floristry, greenhouse management, irrigation and landscape architecture, to name a few. In each of these fields, plus many others, they could work for a standalone company or a division within a larger corporation, or just as an individual entrepreneur.
As in any field, there are many roles, from owners and managers, to secretaries and salespeople. There are also many specialties in each career path. The more skill, education and training individuals can apply to a particular field, the more enjoyable it will be and the further they can advance.
Horticulture can be combined with many other fields to satisfy interests that span more than one field. Occupations like accounting, computer science, education, journalism and research are all more useful with a horticulture background.
The field of arboriculture is focused on trees. Arborists make decisions on which tree to plant and how to maintain it. They study insects, diseases and other problems that interfere with healthy trees. Because of the value trees have to urban areas, many cities employ arborists as their city forester.
Florists supply flower arrangements and bouquets for life's special occasions. Behind the designer are many other people who supply the materials. Americans are catching up to Europe, where flower arrangements are part of the daily decor at home and in the office.
Greenhouse managers maintain the specific environmental conditions necessary to grow specialty crops. Nearly all annual flowers, hanging baskets and vegetable transplants, and many food crops are started in greenhouses. Even medical marijuana is grown in greenhouses.
Interior-plantscape people do exactly what you expect. They design, install and maintain indoor landscapes. Expertise in indoor plants is increasingly in demand as it is recognized that plants supply more than beauty. NASA studies show that plants filter many toxic fumes out of the air. Building materials like carpeting, upholstery, paint, paneling, vinyl and ink release fumes from the chemicals used in their manufacture. The more closed up and energy-efficient a building is, the more plants become necessary for the health of the occupants.
Irrigation specialists are becoming increasingly in demand as water supplies become limited in some parts of the country. Plants are an important investment in many landscapes. They supply beauty, health and value. Keeping the plants healthy without wasting water is important.
Landscape architecture is a misunderstood field. It involves far more than planting flowers around buildings. It involves aspects of regional land planning, engineering, horticulture, art and human behavior.
Landscape architecture differs from other horticulture fields. Landscape architects must receive at least a bachelor's degree, pass a multiday bar exam and be licensed to practice. Other horticulture fields often only require a one-year certificate or two-year associate degree, although bachelor's degrees are available in most horticulture fields.
There is an exciting future in horticulture and landscaping. We plant for the future. You could plant a tree that may be around for your great-grandchildren to see.
Email questions to Jeff Rugg at [email protected] To find out more about Jeff Rugg and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.