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Horticulturist

California Occupational Guide Number 396
Interest Area 3
1995
BACKGROUND

Luther Burbank was a famous horticulturist who spent his life searching for 
ways to improve plant quality so the world's food supply could be 
increased.  In 1875 he left his home in Massachusetts and moved to 
California to take advantage of the year-round growing climate.  He settled 
in Santa Rosa and established his nursery.  Here he conducted plant breeding 
experiments that  brought him world-wide recognition.  When he died in 1926, 
at the age of 77, he had introduced more than 800 new plant varieties.  
Today, Horticulturists who follow in his footsteps continue striving to make 
the fruit and vegetables on our table more nutritious, our gardens more 
beautiful and our environment healthier.

THE JOB

HORTICULTURISTS are agricultural scientists dedicated to finding better ways 
to grow, harvest, store, process and ship fruits, vegetables and ornamental 
plants.  Also concerned with insuring healthy and hardy plants, they work 
with plant pathologists and other experts to develop plants that resist 
disease and grow well in all climates.  The field of horticulture is both 
dynamic and exciting.  Horticulturists have opportunities to work in many 
interesting, challenging and different areas.

Horticulturists who want to remain rooted to their profession work in 
nursery production.  These specialists in "growing" know everything about 
plants.  They are experts in all parts of plant cultivation and propagation 
including seeding, cutting, layering, budding, and grafting.  They also 
protect the plants from pests and diseases.

Individuals who enjoy meeting people and sharing their plant knowledge might 
find their niche working in garden centers, the retail arm of the field.  
Serving as a link between the nursery industry and the plant buying public, 
Horticulturists can work as buyers, landscape designers or as managers.

Floriculturists, those who specialize in flowers, bedding and potted plants, 
will find challenges in floral design and wholesale and retail florist work.

Landscape designers work with both commercial and residential customers and 
have opportunities to convert clients' visions and dreams into reality.  
Landscape maintenance specialists work to maintain and protect the beauty of 
established landscaping.

Horticultural Therapists know just how therapeutic plants and gardening can 
be, and they plan therapy projects to help senior citizens and those with 
emotional and physical disabilities.  Still even more Horticulturists have 
rewarding careers working as:

--  Country Cooperative Extension Agents
--  Teachers and Educators
--  Agricultural Inspectors
--  Sales Representatives
--  Golf Course Superintendents


WORKING CONDITIONS

Working conditions for Horticulturists vary with the type of work being 
done.  A Horticulturist doing Research may spend most of the workday at a 
desk, in an experimental greenhouse, or out in a test field.  On the other 
hand, a Horticulturist providing landscaping sales or services probably 
works most of the time in the garden-like surroundings of a retail nursery 
or outdoors in a public park or on a golf course.  On the down side, 
Horticulturists may encounter noxious smells or be exposed to potentially 
hazardous chemicals.  Persons allergic to certain plants, pollens, or 
agricultural chemicals may not be able to work in this occupation.

Horticultural occupations can be adapted for workers with disabilities.  
With the founding of the American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA) 
in 1973 the horticultural industry has become a leader in assisting both 
disabled workers and employers.  Horticulture Hiring the Disabled (HHD), the 
national employment project of AHTA, has assisted placing over 12,000 
qualified employees in the horticulture industry.


EMPLOYMENT OUTLOOK

The following information is from the California Projections of Employment 
published by the Labor Market Information Division.  The figures represent 
the broad occupational group Agricultural and Food Scientists which includes 
Horticulturists.

Estimated number of workers in 1990            1,560
Estimated number of workers in 2005            1,990
Projected Growth 1990-2005                       28%
Estimated openings due to separations by 2005    810

(These figures do not include self-employment nor openings due to turnover.)

The California Association of Nurserymen reports our State's Horticultural 
industry commands more than a quarter of the nation's wholesale nursery 
production and retail sales.  The association expects that increasing 
environmental concerns combined with California's population growth and the 
continuing urbanization and resulting residential and commercial development 
will positively affect career opportunities in this field.

Information furnished by the California Polytechnic (Cal Poly) State 
University at San Luis Obispo Horticultural Department shows industry demand 
for their graduates outstrips the supply and at least 4 to 5 positions await 
each graduate.


WAGES, HOURS, AND FRINGE BENEFITS

Horticulturists follow a variety of different career paths, and salaries 
vary considerably.  A 1995 survey conducted by the Farm Employers Labor 
Service for the California Association of Nurserymen showed an average 
annual salary of $33,444 for a horticultural crop supervisor.  The federal 
government typically starts beginning Horticulturists in California between 
$19,081 to $23,634 a year depending on the job candidate's academic record 
and job experience.  The State Department of Food and Agriculture beginning 
salary for fruit and Vegetable Quality Control Inspectors is about $27,950.

Horticulturists generally work a 40-hour week.  Although there are seasonal 
aspects to some types of jobs, most Horticulturists work year-round.


EDUCATION AND TRAINING

Employers hiring professional Horticulturists prefer to hire those with a 
bachelor's degree in horticulture or a closely related agricultural 
science.  Specialized course work or prior experience usually determines the 
field of horticulture entered.  A number of public universities and colleges 
in California grant bachelor degrees in horticulture with two of the 
campuses offering graduate studies.  Over half of the community colleges 
throughout the State offer associate degrees in horticulture.

High school students preparing for college horticultural study should take 
chemistry, biology, botany and other recommended mathematics and science 
courses.  Agricultural courses if available would also be valuable.  Those 
considering a career in this field might also want to tour the Luther 
Burbank Home and Gardens in Santa Rosa.  Visitors can see the gardens, free 
of charge, every day of the year.  From April through October the carriage 
house museum is open and docent-led tours are offered every half hour.


ADVANCEMENT

Most advancement is to positions in management and supervision. 
Horticulturists specializing in the development and use of products to 
assist growers may promote to marketing positions.  Specialists in plant 
types may manage plant-growing operations or retail outlets such as 
nurseries.  Some become self-employed as growers or as consultants in the use
of plants.  Many government positions for horticulturists provide promotional
opportunities as supervisor or department manager.  Colleges and universities
have career ladders leading to full professorship for those with advanced 
degrees.


FINDING THE JOB

Part-time or summer job experience often leads to full-time jobs with the 
same employer.  Job seekers interested in Plant Inspector positions with the 
federal government should contact the United States Department of 
Agriculture.  Those interested in working for the State can contact the 
California Department of Food and Agriculture.  University horticultural 
departments maintain placement services for local and statewide jobs.  The 
California Employment Development Department Job Service may also be a 
source of employment opportunities for Horticulturists.


ADDITIONAL SOURCES OF INFORMATION

California Association of Nurserymen
4620 Northgate Blvd., Suite 155
Sacramento, CA 95834
(916) 567-0200

American Horticultural Society
7931 East Boulevard Drive
Alexandria, VA 22308
(703) 768-5700

American Horticultural Therapy Association
362 A Christopher Ave.
Gaithersburg, MD 20879-3600
(301) 948-3010
FAX (301) 869-2397


RELATED OCCUPATIONAL GUIDES

Landscape Architects              No. 216
Horticultural Workers             No. 520


OCCUPATIONAL CODE REFERENCES

DOT (Dictionary of Occupational Titles, 4th ed., Rev. 1)
Horticulturist(profess. & kin.)           040.061-038
Horticultural Therapist                   076.124-018

OES (Occupational Employment Statistics) System
Agricultural and Food Scientists               243050


Source:  State of California, Employment Development Department, 
         Labor Market Information Division, Information Services Group, 
         (916) 262-2162.
Note:  This is NOT a job opening.  The purpose of This California Occupational Guide is to provide you with useful information to help you make career decisions.   If you are searching for a job, go to:

California Occupational Guides


California Employment Development Department   >>   Labor Market Information   >>   More Occupational Guides