Starting a Career in Parks and Gardens sometimes begins with a college or university course; but just as often, it starts with some work experience -perhaps as a volunteer, or perhaps as an assistant gardener.
There are plenty of people who have certificates and cannot get work.
The answer is not so much to get a certificate; but to give employers a reason to separate you out from the crowd.
You need is to distinguish yourself from all the others with different knowledge and skills.
1st The first and most important thing is to develop a very strong plant knowledge. You need to be able to identify at least 250 different plants, and preferably a lot more than that. A course will get you started, but if you really want to stand out, you should look beyond just doing the course, and take the following opportunities to learn plants as well:
Attend garden shows, visit botanic gardens, nurseries, open gardens etc. Make the most of every spare moment you have.
Volunteer with land care groups, at community gardens, or anywhere else you can get some experience
Read books or magazines and watch videos
Watch gardening TV shows.
Photograph plants and build a collection of named photos (if you have a digital camera)
2nd Show you have passion and initiative by getting involved on a voluntary basis. Volunteer to work on working bees at schools, parks, or anywhere involving tree planting, landscaping or anything to do with horticulture or environmental management. Contact the local council and see if they can point you in the right direction, to start.
3rd Network… make friends/contacts who are involved with parks, gardens or plants. Join a garden club, native plant club, bird club, friends of the zoo or botanic gardens or anything like that.
4th Get a solid foundation in horticultural practice and in horticultural science. Many of the courses elsewhere still teach the practice; but the science has been weakened due to funding cuts, and some (not all) employers are not impressed. If you have stronger scientific knowledge, that will help you.
5th Don’t wait for jobs to be advertised…most are not. Visit workplaces and knock on the door asking for work. Offer your services as a volunteer. This will impress some employers, and can sometimes lead to paid work.
The more you learn, the more attractive you are to employers. Here are some options:
Option 1. Certificate in Horticulture
This is more comprehensive than the other options below; but is also more cost and more time. It is up to 700 hours of work).
This option also offers the opportunity to choose a specialisation in the3 second half of the course (There is no need to choose your stream studies though until you complete the first half).
Option 2. FOUNDATION CERTIFICATE 2 Plant Growth, Propagation & Development
This great course is 100 hours and covers the following areas of study:
Classification of Plants and the Plant Naming System
The Internal Structure of Higher Plants
The External Structure of Higher Plants, Roots, Leaves, Stems and Buds
Identification and Function of the Reproductive Parts of the Plant
Pollination and Fertilisation in Higher Plants
The Fundamental Physiological Processes in Plants, Plant Growth and Developmental Relationships
Soils and the Root Environment
Plant Health Problems
Plant Propagation Principles and Practice