If you love working with plants, there are many career options in gardening and horticulture that you can pursue. Whether you prefer creating inviting outdoor spaces, improving food supplies or developing new plant varieties, you can find a job that allows you to use your skills effectively. Jobs in industries like landscaping, food production, retail and science might feature gardening as a key function.
In this article, we list 18 jobs related to gardening and share details about each job’s salary and key duties.
18 gardening jobs to consider
Gardening jobs are available in many settings, from small farms and nurseries to large corporations and golf courses. If you love working with plants, consider these 18 jobs that involve gardening:
National average salary: R35,250 per year
Primary duties: Florists arrange and sell flowers and other plants to customers, often for holidays or special occasions. While most florists receive cut flowers from wholesalers, they might also sell potted plants that require care.
Their duties include cutting flowers, arranging them into bouquets or other arrangements and adding cards and ribbons. Specialty florists might create unique bouquets for customers who have specific flower preferences. Some florists perform customer service tasks, like helping customers choose arrangements and taking payment.
2. Vineyard worker
National average salary: R35,533 per year
Primary duties: Vineyard workers plant, monitor and harvest vines that produce wine grapes. Their primary job duties include planting vines, pruning, thinning, positioning vine shoots, harvesting, fertilizing soil and removing pests. Vineyard workers may work in erosion control, irrigation and fence installation. They may also be responsible for grape crushing, bottling, corking, capping and tank cleaning.
3. Garden center associate
National average salary: R36,580 per year
Primary duties: Garden center associates care for plants that are sold in a garden center. Common duties include planting seedlings, pruning, weeding and fertilizing. These workers may also design displays and stock sales tables.
Garden center associates use their knowledge of plants to advise customers on plant selection, optimal plant care and garden design. They may also help customers choose plants for their homes, complete purchases and load plants and supplies into customers’ cars.
4. Farm laborer
National average salary: R36,969 per year
Primary duties: Farm laborers care for crops on small domestic farms and large-scale commercial growing enterprises. Typical work tasks include plowing fields, planting crops, pruning, managing pests, applying fertilizers, harvesting crops and preparing them for shipment.
They may also maintain irrigation systems, install and repair fences, build sheds or barns and maintain farming equipment. Their responsibilities might depend on the type of crop they grow and the size of the farm. Some farm laborer positions are seasonal, while others are year-round.
5. Landscape laborer
National average salary: R40,028 per year
Primary duties: A landscape laborer maintains outdoor spaces. They might work in an internal landscaping or maintenance team or for a landscape development company with multiple clients.
Their primary job duties include planting, watering, trimming bushes and trees, mowing lawns, applying fertilizer, controlling pests and weeding. Landscape laborers may also build walkways, rock walls, fences, steps and other garden features. If employed in an area that experiences seasonal changes, laborers might remove leaves and clear snow.
6. Garden center manager
National average salary: R47,971 per year
Primary duties: A garden center manager is a type of retail store manager who oversees all daily operations at a garden center or plant nursery. Their job duties include training and supervising employees, selecting plants, ordering garden center supplies, scheduling fertilizer and pesticide applications and identifying plant diseases and pests. Garden center managers also work closely with the public, advising them on proper planting techniques, plant care and pest reduction.
National average salary: R49,537 per year
Primary duties: Horticulturists manage the different facets of plant cultivation and propagation. In the agricultural and food production industries, they use their skills to improve crop yields, manage pests and create improved plants.
Horticulturists may also work at landscaping companies, where they maintain flowers, bushes, trees, turf and grass for clients. Research horticulturists may perform experiments on crop varieties, pesticides and fertilizers.
National average salary: R51,114 per year
Primary duties: A groundskeeper maintains outdoor spaces on college campuses, large corporations, public gardens, parks and other large venues. Their job duties include trimming trees and bushes, controlling pests, mowing lawns, putting down mulch, planting flowers and watering plants.
Groundskeepers also maintain lighting, benches, fountains and other outdoor structures. Seasonal work may also include leaf removal in the fall and snow removal in the winter. Some groundskeepers take care of plant life inside of malls, businesses and large corporations.
National average salary: R55,545 per year
Primary duties: A gardener designs and maintains outdoor spaces for private homeowners, landscaping companies, corporations and parks. They might work for individual companies or for landscaping firms.
Their typical daily tasks include planting seasonal flowers, trimming trees and bushes, maintaining planting beds, mowing grass, applying fertilizer and managing pests. Gardeners may also design seasonal displays and decorate grounds for special occasions like holidays and festivals.
10. Facilities manager
National average salary: R66,942 per year
Primary duties: Facilities managers lead maintenance, groundskeeping and landscaping teams for organizations with one or more facilities. If the organization’s properties include outdoor greenery, the facilities manager might direct the planting and maintenance of ornamental trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses.
In smaller organizations, the facilities manager might take part in the gardening, while facilities managers in larger companies might delegate this responsibility. Other duties include hiring and supervising facilities employees, contracting with external service companies, responding to emergencies and inspecting facilities for safety features.
National average salary: R67,983 per year
Primary duties: Landscapers build gardens and other outdoor spaces for private homeowners, large corporations, municipal governments, parks and other venues. They work closely with landscape architects to create inviting gardens.
Typically, the landscaper follows the landscape architect’s plans and decides how to create the elements in the plan. Their job duties include planting seasonal flowers, trimming hedges, pruning trees, fertilizing plants, mowing grass and managing pests. Landscapers may also work with building contractors to construct garden walls, walkways and steps.
National average salary: R68,884 per year
Primary duties: Ecologists study plant life and other native species. These scientists usually work for universities, government agencies and nonprofit conservation organizations. Typically, ecologists focus on a specific field of ecology, like botany or soil studies.
While they focus on research, ecologists might also direct conservation projects or work with environmental engineers to improve the environment. Other duties include teaching, creating reports and advising government agencies about ecological policies.
National average salary: R70,620 per year
Primary duties: An arborist cares for woody shrubs and trees. These scientists use their knowledge of growing conditions and common tree diseases to ensure the healthy growth of their clients’ plant life. They inspect trees for disease and pest infestation, apply pesticides, trim limbs and plant seedlings. Arborists may also remove dead or diseased trees from their clients’ properties.
14. Landscape architect
National average salary: R70,647 per year
Primary duties: A landscape architect designs welcoming and functional parks, playgrounds, gardens, campuses, pools and other public spaces. They create paper plans and digital models of outdoor spaces that landscapers and builders use to create the spaces.
Some landscape architects work with environmental scientists to create conservation areas such as wetlands or mine reclamation sites. Specialized landscape architects with additional qualifications in historical gardening methods work with nonprofit organizations, universities and government agencies to restore historic sites and gardens.
15. Horticultural therapist
National average salary: R72,240 per year
Primary duties: A horticultural therapist helps patients improve their mental or physical health by creating, maintaining and harvesting garden spaces. As qualified therapists, they typically work for therapy practices, assisted care facilities or in-patient rehabilitation centers.
Their job duties include creating patient care plans, teaching patients how to care for plants and designing gardens. They work closely with doctors, psychiatrists and other therapists to provide patient care. Horticultural therapists may also modify garden tools and outdoor spaces to make them accessible to all patients.
16. Plant scientist
National average salary: R75,562 per year
Primary duties: A plant scientist works closely with farmers and agricultural researchers to improve crop yields. They can help develop more effective farming techniques, pest-control methods and fertilizers.
Plant scientists may conduct research to develop new crop varieties that produce more nutritious crops, deliver higher yields, resist diseases or adapt to harsh environments. They may also work directly with farmers to educate them on new techniques or troubleshoot issues with crops.
National average salary: R80,641 per year
Primary duties: Growers cultivate fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers and other plants. They might operate small family farms or large corporate farms. Their typical job duties include plowing fields, planting, fertilizing, managing pests, harvesting and preparing crops for shipment. Most growers specialize in one kind of crop, such as herbs, animal feed or grains. Other growers use a specialized farming method, such as organic farming or hydroponics.
18. Environmental engineer
National average salary: R91,023 per year
Primary duties: Environmental engineers use science and technology to maintain and improve the environment. Typically, they work for large corporations, research facilities or government agencies.
They conduct research to understand the impact of industrialization and population growth on native species, including trees, grasses and other plant life. Depending on the organization they support, they might also lead projects to replant native species, build environmentally effective public works or create natural barriers that decrease the impact of erosion and climate change.