Best Social Services Jobs

Landscaper and Groundskeeper

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Overall Score
(5.3 out of 10)

Number of Jobs

139,200

Median Salary

$23,570

Unemployment Rate

14.3 percent

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This Job is Ranked in
Best Social Services Jobs #20
The 100 Best Jobs #98

The work of landscapers and groundskeepers surrounds us – in public parks, botanical gardens, university campuses, sports fields and even cemeteries. Although the terms landscaper and groundskeeper are sometimes used interchangeably, they define two separate jobs with distinct responsibilities. “A landscaper is more involved with the horticultural maintenance of facilities, while a groundsworker might be involved with refuge removal and snow removal,” says Donald Bottger, director of facility services for the San Diego Convention Center Corporation. Other landscaper 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 maintain swimming pools and fountains or ensure picnic areas and public spaces are free of litter.

Both jobs are ideal 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 says there is plenty of potential for advancement in this career – landscapers could move up the ranks and become supervisors, while groundskeepers could be promoted to grounds managers or facilities managers.

Aging baby boomers aren’t just driving demand for more professionals in the health care field – they 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 forecasts slightly higher than 12 percent growth for this profession, or about 139,200 new positions, by 2022.

Salary

Landscapers and groundskeepers might spend hours on their feet and work in a variety of weather conditions. But the physical exertion doesn’t result in a six-figure salary. In 2012, the average salary for workers in this field was $25,870. The highest earners brought home more than $37,770, and the lowest earners made less than $17,330. The metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Lowell, Mass., and Framingham, Mass., pay landscapers and groundskeepers the best.

Salary Range

75th Percentile $29,900
Median $23,570
25th Percentile $19,520

Training

Formal education and certification aren’t necessary for most work in this field. 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 [and] latest equipment and to take advantage of cooperative education programs,” he says. Certifications through organizations, including the Professional Landscape Network and the International Society of Arboriculture, are offered at various levels that 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.

Reviews & Advice

If you live in a locale that experiences four seasons, the worst time of year to look for a landscaping or groundskeeping job is late fall to midwinter. 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 who plow snow and remove debris.

If you land an interview, don’t dress like you would on your first day of work. “My expectation is that [job candidates] will wear business-casual attire because they’re still going through a formal interview process,” Bottger says.

Job Satisfaction

Upward Mobility good Above Average
Stress Level good Low
Flexibility good Above Average
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Last updated by Katy Marquardt.


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