How to become a Horticultural Assistant

Horticultural assistants undertake a range of tasks involving the cultivation, growing, harvesting and maintenance of trees, plants and gardens.

Personal requirements of a Horticultural Assistant

  • Able to undertake manual and sometimes heavy work
  • Observant and methodical
  • Good communication skills
  • Enjoy outdoor work
  • Able to cope with the physical demands of the job
  • Enjoy working in teams

Education & Training for a Horticultural Assistant

You can work as a horticultural assistant without formal qualifications. You will probably get some informal training on the job. You may like to consider a VET qualification in horticulture, production horticulture, production nursery or retail nursery. As subjects and prerequisites can vary between institutions, you should contact your chosen institution for further information. You can also become a horticultural assistant through a traineeship in Horticulture, Production Horticulture, Production Nursery or Retail Nursery. Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require Year 10. For more details, see Section 2. Ask your career adviser about the possibility of starting some of this training in school.

Duties & Tasks of a Horticultural Assistant

Horticultural assistants may perform the following tasks:

  • prepare new garden sites, plots and soils using hand tools or machines
  • load, unload and move gardening supplies and equipment
  • assist with planting and transplanting seeds, bulbs, flowers, shrubs, trees and lawns
  • clean gardens and remove rubbish
  • maintain plants and gardens by watering, weeding, fertilising and mowing lawns
  • adjust mist irrigation systems, shade and ventilation in a nursery, garden or greenhouse
  • prepare and package plants for sale or transport
  • erect barriers, fences or structures in gardens.

Working conditions for a Horticultural Assistant

Horticultural assistants usually work under the supervision of a horticultural tradesperson. They work outside and in greenhouses, often in a team. Some of the work is physically demanding as it involves bending, lifting and the use of machinery such as tractors, rollers and edging machines. Protective clothing must be used when handling fertilisers and pesticides, and to prevent injury while using machinery.

Employment Opportunities for a Horticultural Assistant

Horticultural assistants are mainly employed by retail and wholesale nurseries, plantation timber companies, local governments, parks authorities and private gardening and landscaping companies to assist professionals. There is strong demand for entry-level positions into this occupation. With experience and further training, it is possible to gain promotion to horticultural tradesperson positions.

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