Nursery Worker

How to Become a Nursery Worker
Nursery Workers Job Duties
Skills and Qualities Needed to Become a Nursery Worker
Nursery Worker Salaries
Influential Professionals in the Nursery Worker Field
Leading Nursery Worker Organizations
Top Cities for Nursery Worker Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Nursery Worker

The process of becoming a nursery worker in the agricultural field will require you to have a high school diploma or GED. No formal education is necessary; however, most nursery workers get their informal on-the-job training from experienced nursery workers. Apart from general high school curriculum requirements of math and science, interested prospects should also take elective courses in horticulture and physical education. You should possess a driver's license, as most employers of nursery workers will require you to have one.

Prospective nursery workers should seek work-based learning opportunities that are available in their school and local community. These could include field trips, volunteer work, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities should be used to connect your school activities with real work experience. To assist you in your career as a nursery worker, you may want to join horticulture groups, take up some hobbies in the horticulture field, or participate in volunteer organizations in the horticulture or agriculture industry.

Another way to become a nursery worker is through on-the-job training. You can gain good hands-on training by working with experienced nursery workers. This way you will learn how to use equipment and tools, how to work with plants and water, and how to work closely with the public. On-the-job training can last up to one month.

Since nursery workers use pesticides and herbicides quite frequently, you may be required to have a certificate before applying chemicals to plants. You can get a certificate through approved certification programs, which are available through nursery associations or your State's agricultural department.

What does a Nursery Worker do?

Nursery workers grow, plant, transplant, prune, and care for trees and plants for the purpose of selling them. Nursery workers cultivate land and soil for growing trees, plants, flowers and sod. They perform many horticultural duties, which include watering plants, pruning plants and trees, pulling weeds from the ground, and spraying pesticides or herbicides on plants. The nursery worker may cut, roll, prepare, and stack sod. He or she also stakes trees, ties and wrap plants and trees, and pack plants. The nursery worker uses a lot of physical labour to dig up or move shrubs and trees they have grown. He or she also creates, packs, and sells mulch, and at times, must fill customer orders.

Nursery workers sprout seeds and nurse them to health. They must be skill at performing this task, since most seed sprouts are initially grown indoors before being planted outdoors. Additionally, nursery workers do a lot of shovelling, hoeing, raking, and tilling of the soil. They use fertilizers extensively, and plant, transplant, weed, trim, and prune plants, trees, and crops. Nursery workers constantly use pesticides to protect and grow plants. In preparation for shipping, they load harvested plants and trees for transporting to the marketplace.

To effectively perform their job tasks, the Nursery Worker uses hand tools and equipment, such as shovels, hoes, pruning hooks, trowels, tampers, shears, and knives. Wheelbarrows are used to haul fertilizer, peat moss, and other horticulture products to condition the soil. Some nursery workers grow grass by planting grass seeds or plugs. Once the grass matures, workers then cut, roll, and stack the remaining sod for sale to the public.

Some nursery workers spend most of their time caring for plants, while others only work closely with the customers. In this instance, they answer customer questions, assist with plant and flower selections, and prepare plants and cut flowers for shipping. Nursery workers who perform this function, also disinfect flowers, separate them into bunches, and package them for shipping. They also load them onto trucks to be sold in the wholesale and retail markets.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Nursery Worker?

If you are thinking about becoming a nursery worker, you must be self-motivated, have good interpersonal skills, communicate well, and enjoy working outdoors. Nursery workers who work directly with the public must be cordial and courteous. Employers will expect you to be a mature, responsible person, who requires little supervision.

A nursery worker must be physically able to do the job. When applying dangerous chemicals, you must wear protective clothing, masks, gloves, and goggles. Nursery workers often work long and irregular hours, more than 8 hours per day. The downside to this profession is nursery workers are usually employed from early spring to late fall, which is the planting season. They do not work during the winter. Nursery workers, who are supervisors, usually use the winter season to catch up on the repair of machinery, upgrading equipment, and rebuilding nursery structures.

How much does a Nursery Worker make?

A nursery worker's salary varies by employer, area of the country, and the worker's level of experience. Those who work full time may receive health insurance, paid leave, and paid vacation benefits. Wage information specifically for nursery workers is not available; however, they fall under the category of farm workers and labourers. The average salary for nursery workers in the United States as of May 2007 was $18,350. Fifty to ninety percent of all nursery workers made between $17,020 and $23,790 during the same year. Nursery workers who work for the local government as grounds maintenance workers make significantly more than all others in this field.

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

One prominent nursery worker is Bill Cullina. He manages the New England Wild Flower Society's Garden in the Woods in Framingham, Massachusetts. Mr. Cullina is one of 15 gardeners who were included in a list of the Northeast's 50 "most influential" gardeners according to People, Places & Plants Magazine. Other influential nursery workers are Patricia Bigelow, President of Bigelow Nurseries in Boston, Massachusetts, and Wayne Mezitt, Chairman of Weston Nurseries in Hopkinton, Massachusetts.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

The American Public Gardens Association (APGA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening and beautifying public gardens throughout North America. Outreach efforts include supporting and promoting the work, value, and achievements in the areas of horticultural display, education, and research and plant conservation. For the past 60 years APGA has been one of the most prominent associations for advancing public gardens in North America. The National Gardening Association (NGA) is a non-profit organization and leader in horticulture education. NGA provides literature that is designed to advance the appreciation and benefits of gardening. The American Society of Horticulture Science (ASHS) is an organization that has been at the forefront of research and education in the horticulture industry, and vigorously promotes horticulture science. Made up of researchers, faculty, educational personnel, extension agents, federal and state experimenters and representatives, and growers and distributors of horticultural products, ASHS members continue to make significant advances in the rapid growth of horticulture science.

What are the top cities for Nursery Worker jobs?

Job prospects for nursery workers should be plentiful because large numbers of workers leave these jobs for other occupations. The top city for nursery worker jobs is Lincoln, Nebraska followed second by Bloomington, Illinois. Third is Grand Junction, Colorado, while Forth Wayne Indiana and Little Rock, Arkansas come in a distant fourth place. Jobs for the nursery worker are expected to decline by 3 percent. Overall, nursery worker jobs are projected to undergo little or no change between 2006 and 2016.

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