How to Become a Horticulturalist
Horticulturalist Job Duties
Skills and Qualities of Horticulturalists
Salaries for Horticulturalists
Influential Professional Horticulturalists
Leading Horticulturalist Organizations
Top Cities for Horticulturalist Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Horticulturalist

Horticulturists work in either agriculture or landscape design. Horticulturists are employed in industry and residential areas to private collections. Professionals may teach at colleges or universities; work in nurseries, seed companies and tree farms; assist private research companies; and, work for state and federal government agencies.

A professional in this field must hold a secondary degree in botany, biology or agriculture. Advanced positions in research or government may require either a master's or a PhD to secure employment. A solid background and experience in basic science, specifically chemistry and biology, is necessary. Professionals must also have training in art and architecture for areas that focus on landscaping design and decorative plants.

The field of horticulture includes a vast array of employment concentrations that a professional is not limited by choice, only education:

Horticulturists may be employed as cropping systems engineers; wholesale or retail business managers; propagators and tissue culture specialists; crop inspectors; crop production advisers; extension specialists; plant breeders; research scientists; and, teachers.

What does a Horticulturalist do?

Horticulture is the art and science of the cultivation of plants. Horticulturists are specialists in the large-scale growing of fruits, vegetables, flowers and ornamental plants.

Horticulturists work and conduct research in various concentrations: plant propagation and cultivation; crop production; plant breeding and genetic engineering; plant biochemistry; and, plant physiology.

A horticulturalist's main concern is to improve how much a crop produces, its quality, its nutritional value, and its resistance to insects and diseases. Their work targets nuts, berries, fruits, vegetables, trees, shrubs, flowers and turf.

Horticulture involves eight areas of study that are grouped into two broad sections: ornamentals and edibles. The two main sections include:


An agricultural horticulturist is responsible for investigating the best techniques for managing the aboveground aspects of agriculture. These include pruning, mulching, trellising, plant spacing, and pollination. An agriculture horticulturist works closely with both an agronomist and an integrated pest manager to produce profitable food and fiber crops.


The landscape horticulturist is concerned with all aspects of plant growth: aboveground aspects and fertilization, irrigation, and drainage. A landscape horticulturist is concerned with the production, marketing and maintenance of landscape plants.

Horticulturists may also find work as:

An arboriculturist: An individual who is concerned with the study and selection, planting, care, and removal of individual trees, shrubs, vines, and other perennial woody plants.

A floriculturist: An individual who is concerned with the production and marketing of floral crops.

An olericulturist: An individual who is concerned with the production and marketing of vegetables.

A pomologist: An individual who is concerned with the production and marketing of fruits.

A viticulturist: An individual who is concerned with the production and marketing of grapes.

A post-harvest physiologist: An individual who is concerned with maintaining the quality and preventing spoilage of horticultural crops.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Horticulturalist?

A four-year degree is required by employers to hire prospective professionals. One must have a passion for plants and the environment to find satisfaction in this field. A skilled aptitude in basic science and an eye for creative detail are necessary to succeed in this field of work.

How much do Horticulturalists make?

The hourly median pay for horticulturists was $26.96, recorded in May 2006, for professionals in the non-teaching sectors. Annually, most horticulturists earn between $48,000 and $56,000. Government positions held more lucrative income possibilities, with the top-expert positions earning $83,000 annually.

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

Luther Burbank was a famous horticulturist who spent his life searching for ways to improve plant quality to increase the world's food supply. In 1875 he left his home in Massachusetts and moved to California to take advantage of the year-round growing climate. He settled in Santa Rosa and established his nursery. He experimented with plant breeding and achieved world-wide recognition. When he died in 1926, he had introduced over eight hundred new plant varieties.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

The American Horticultural Society (AHS) was founded in 1922 and is a national gardening organization, providing horticultural education for gardeners. AHS also provides a way for members to become connected to other members and horticulturists. The American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA) educates the public and provides resources about horticultural therapy. Horticultural therapy is the practice of using gardens and green spaces to reach the mentally ill, people who have been traumatized, or others who are going through some sort of rehabilitation.

What are the top cities for Horticulturalist jobs?

The District of Columbia and Maryland are the top paying states for a career as a horticulturist, earning approximately annually $82,000 and $79,000 respectively.

Other Careers of Interest

Botanists are scientists that study plants of all types. This does include fungi, bacteria (sometimes), lichens, and some protists, although none...

Conservationists, or environmental scientists, work to protect the environment. Using an education in physical science, conservationists identify,...

Entomologists are scientists that study insects, primarily. The word "entomology" is derived from the Greek meaning "segmented", i.e. insects which...

A geographer is a scientist who studies the physical environment of the earth, human habitat, and the interactions between the two. Geographers...

Geologists study the earth and the processes that shape it in order to better understand the history of our planet. They then try to apply this...

Geoscientists study the physical dimensions of the earth both in the present and in the past. Geology and geophysics are the two major subdivisions...

Marine Biologist
Marine Biology is a form of Biological Science. Marine biologists study ocean life and its relationship to the environment. Studies may be performed...

Meteorologist / Weather Forecaster
A meteorologist will study atmospheric conditions that he or she will then use as a way to help forecast the weather. Some meteorologists will...

Microbiology is the study of microscopic organisms and covers a massive range of life forms ranging from yeast and protozoa to algae and viruses....

An oceanographer studies the ocean by collecting samples and gathering information by observation and measurement. As a whole, an oceanographer...

Paleontologist are scientist whose main purpose is to study fossils of living organisms and animals for the purpose of learning what the earth was...

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