(6.9 out of 10)
|Number of Jobs:||240,800|
|This Job is Ranked in|
|Best Social Services Jobs||#5|
|The 100 Best Jobs||#29|
Public parks and amusement parks, botanical gardens and arboretums, sports fields and cemeteries; all are touched by the expertise of landscapers and groundskeepers. And though the two terms are used interchangeably sometimes, they actually define two separate jobs with distinct responsibilities. “A landscaper is more involved with the horticultural maintenance of facilities,” says Donald Bottger, the director of facilities for the San Diego Convention Center Corporation. “While a groundsworker might be involved with refuge removal and snow removal.” Other landscaping duties include planting trees and shrubbery, fertilizing and watering plants, and constructing patios and walkways. And a groundskeeper’s work isn’t confined to greenery; he or she might also maintain swimming pools and paint fences. Both are idyllic occupations for green thumbs and outdoorsy folks, and they’re also good callings for those who have the entrepreneurial spirit to start their own lawn care and landscaping business. Bottger adds: “There is quite the potential for advancement in this career. Starting out as a landscaper, you could become the lead, or a supervisor. Groundskeepers could become grounds managers or facilities managers.” Though many in this business might start out without having received a formal education, the tremendous advancement opportunities often drive workers to take courses and receive certification.
There are obvious employment implications that an aging population could have on the healthcare industry—more older persons drive the need to hire more healthcare professionals—but aging baby boomers also influence job openings within landscaping and groundskeeping. Older homeowners often employ a lawn-care service when they can no longer tend to their homes themselves. These services are also popular among working professionals who have limited daytime hours available for yard work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts 21 percent growth for this profession, or approximately 240,800 new positions, by 2020. The necessity for lawn-care services at large public institutions also raises employment, and the expected number of replacement positions to fill this decade is a lofty 444,400 jobs.
Landscapers and groundskeepers might spend hours on their feet and work through a variety of weather conditions. But the physical exertion doesn’t result in six-figure salaries. The average salary in 2011 was $23,410, while the highest earners’ salaries eclipsed $37,000 a year. The bottom 10 percent made approximately $17,130 last year. According to the BLS, the metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Framingham, Mass., and Boston pay landscapers and groundskeepers the best.
Formal education and certification aren’t necessary for a lot of ground maintenance work positions. But career-oriented landscapers and groundskeepers may consider pursuing both, Bottger says. “It’s incumbent on the individual to be on the search for certification programs and education opportunities, to stay up to date on the latest trends, latest equipment, and to take advantage of cooperative education programs,” he explains. Certification levels indicate a landscaper’s or groundskeeper’s level of experience. An inexperienced worker with no credentials could secure an entry-level position, where he or she would receive ample on-the-job training.
If you live in a locale that experiences four seasons, the worst time of year to look for a landscaping or groundskeeping job would be late fall to mid-winter. Companies, properties, and homeowners don’t require flowers planted, lawns mowed, leaves raked, or edges trimmed in colder weather. Job opportunities are available, however, for groundskeepers doing snow and debris removal.
If you receive the chance to interview, remember to dress like you would for any other job interview and not like you might on your first day of work. “My expectation is that [job candidates] will wear business-casual attire," Bottger says. "Because they're still going through a formal interview process. Interviewees need to understand that and pay appropriate attention to detail.”