Horticultural therapist

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Salary range: £17,000 to £30,000

How to become a horticultural therapist

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • specialist courses run by private training organisations

University

You could do a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree course in horticulture, although this isn’t always essential.

Some universities offer horticulture courses that include modules on social and therapeutic horticulture.

You could apply for a postgraduate masters in Social and Therapeutic Horticulture offered by Coventry University.

You’ll need to hold the equivalent of a lower second class undergraduate degree in health, social care, education or horticulture.

Applicants with relevant work experience may also be considered.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

More information

Volunteering and experience

It can be really useful to get experience of working on a horticulture project, on a paid or voluntary basis. You’ll get a better understanding of the role, and make contacts who could help when looking for work.

Volunteering opportunities are available with Thrive if you live within travelling distance of their gardens in Battersea (South London), Birmingham, Gateshead or Beech Hill (near Reading). Thrive also has details of other horticulture projects in the UK.

You can find out about other local volunteering opportunities from Do-it.

Other routes

You can attend short courses run by Thrive, a national charity who offer Step into Social and Therapeutic Horticulture workshops.

More information

Career tips

You may have an advantage if you are moving into this career from other areas of horticulture or jobs such as social care, occupational therapy, nursing or teaching.

Professional and industry bodies

You can join the Association of Social and Horticultural Therapeutic Practitioners for access to local groups, industry newsletters and support from mentors.

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a horticultural therapist from Thrive and the Chartered Institute of Horticulture.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • knowledge of psychology
  • counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
  • the ability to work well with others
  • leadership skills
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

Restrictions and requirements

You’ll need to:

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • developing clients’ practical or social skills, confidence or self-esteem
  • helping clients to learn or re-learn basic skills, including numeracy and literacy
  • providing outdoor activity and exercise to restore strength and mobility after injury or illness
  • supporting clients to take horticultural qualifications or to move into employment
  • working closely with other professionals like psychologists and social workers
  • managing staff and volunteers
  • drawing up proposals for projects

Working environment

You could work in a garden, on a country estate or in a therapy clinic.

Your working environment may be outdoors in all weathers and physically demanding.

Career path and progression

You could use horticultural therapy as part of a wider role, like occupational therapy. With experience and further study, you could move into a supervisory role, or research. You could also become self-employed.

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