Gardeners grow and look after plants in private and public green spaces.
Salary range: £16,000 to £25,000
How to become a gardener
You can get into this job through:
- a college course
- an apprenticeship
- working towards this role
- applying directly
- specialist courses run by a professional body
You could do a college course in gardening or horticulture to get some of the knowledge and practical skills needed for this career. Courses include:
- Level 1 Certificate in Horticulture Skills
- Level 2 Diploma in Horticulture and Amenity Horticulture
- Level 3 Certificate in Practical Horticulture
Courses would cover things like identification of plants, growing plants from seed and how to use gardening machinery safely.
You’ll usually need:
- 2 or fewer GCSEs at grades 3 to 1 (D to G), or equivalent, for a level 1 course
- 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
You could get into this job through a horticulture and landscape operative intermediate apprenticeship.
The Royal Horticulture Society also offers horticultural apprenticeships in some of its national gardens for 16 to 19 year olds.
You could move onto a landscape or horticulture supervisor advanced apprenticeship as you get more experience.
You’ll usually need:
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
- some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
You could also start as an assistant gardener and work your way up.
If you have some related work experience, this could help you to get a job.
Volunteering and experience
You could get experience by volunteering through Do-it or with organisations like:
To work as a gardener you would need to be able to show employers that you have the gardening skills, knowledge and enthusiasm they are looking for. Experience in gardening or a horticultural role is highly valued by employers.
The Royal Horticultural Society offers courses which are suitable if you want to learn more about gardening, or if you want to get qualifications that will help you get a job in horticulture.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- the ability to work well with others
- ambition and a desire to succeed
- sensitivity and understanding
- physical skills like movement, coordination, dexterity and grace
- the ability to work well with your hands
- customer service skills
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
Restrictions and requirements
You’ll need to:
- have a Certificate of Competence, if you carry out hazardous tasks using a chainsaw
What you’ll do
Your day-to-day tasks may include:
- raising plants from seeds or cuttings
- digging, planting and weeding flower beds and borders
- pruning shrubs and trees
- checking the health of plants and controlling pests
- using machinery like lawn mowers and hedge trimmers
- looking after the appearance of plants and the surrounding landscape
- cleaning and maintaining equipment
- basic building tasks like laying patios, or putting up sheds and fences
You could work in a garden, in a park, at a client’s business, at a client’s home or in woodland.
Your working environment may be at height and outdoors in all weathers.
You may need to wear protective clothing.
Career path and progression
With experience, you could become a senior or head gardener.
You could move into other work like landscaping, greenkeeping or the care of trees and shrubs (arboriculture).
You could also set up your own business, offering a service to private customers.