Horticultural worker

nursery garden assistant
Animals, land and environment

Career outlook for horticultural worker

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would grow plants for decoration or to produce food, sell plants in a garden centre or look after plants in parks and gardens.

You could grow plants for:

  • Production horticulture, where you’d produce and sell plants either for food or decoration
  • Garden centres where you’d sell plants to the public
  • Parks and gardens where you’d look after plants in private gardens, public parks and green spaces, historic gardens or botanic gardens

The day-to-day tasks would vary depending on the season. You would:

  • Sow seeds and plant bulbs and ornamental plants
  • Grow plants from cuttings and by grafting
  • Take care of plants by watering, weeding, pruning, feeding and spraying
  • Mow grass, cut dead growth and branches and do general tidying
  • Lay paths and look after ornamental features

Depending on the job you could also pick, sort and package produce to be sent to retailers. If you work in a garden centre you could sell plants and other products and advise the customers.

You’d need to be enthusiastic about plants and follow health and safety regulations.

Working conditions


You would usually work a 40-hour week, although some jobs are seasonal, with longer hours during the summer. You may need to work weekends and evenings, particularly in garden centres.


Your work would be physically demanding, involving bending, lifting and carrying.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Taking responsibility
  • Time management
  • Taking initiative
  • Developing a plan
  • Attention to detail
  • Verbal communication

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.


There are no formal qualifications required to enter this job but a good general education (SCQF level 4/5) may be required by some employers.

If you choose to study this subject before entering the job or study part-time once in a job, to enter a National Certificate (NC) or National Qualifications (NQ) course in greenkeeping, landscaping or horticulture would require no formal qualifications or two to four subjects at SCQF level 4/5.

To enter a Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma (SCQF level 8) in Horticulture, Arboriculture or Garden Design usually require one to two Highers and National 5s. 


Useful subjects

  • English
  • Maths
  • Geography
  • Sciences
  • Practical technologies such as woodwork
  • ICT
  • Environmental or biological sciences

Helpful to have

Qualifications and skills that demonstrate physical fitness and experience working outdoors such as Skills for Work Rural Skills (SCQF 4).

Once in work you may have the opportunity to gain work-based qualifications such as Scottish Vocational Qualification in Horticulture, or Parks, Gardens and Green Space (SCQF level 2/3).

Customer service experience would also be helpful if you want to work in a garden centre.