So, you’re thinking about working as a landscaper, and you think you know what to expect. Maybe you do, but there’s a good chance there will be some surprises for you. Here are five things you don’t know about a career in landscaping.
There is a difference between Landscapers and Property Maintenance professionals.
This is a common misconception because in many areas these two professions overlap. Both may perform tasks like lawn mowing, plowing, and even general horticultural tasks, but to group them together is a disservice to both professions.
Landscapers specialize in the improvement of the land. This can include the installation of hardscape features like patios and walls, plant life like perennials and trees, and durable fixtures like irrigation and lighting. These tasks typically require additional knowledge, training, and equipment that a property maintenance company may not possess.
Property maintenance professionals specialize in maintaining the entire property. They may perform tasks that landscapers do not commonly oversee. This includes work such as winterization services, property monitoring, maintaining property features such as a swimming pool, and light repair work. This requires knowledge, tools, and equipment that a typical landscape company may not possess.
When choosing your career path, it’s essential to understand these distinctions so that you can move toward the profession that fits best for you.
You’re never done learning.
There is a persistent belief that landscapers are more “doers” and less “thinkers.” If you’re looking for a job that will not challenge you to learn and grow, being a landscaper may not be for you.
Landscaping is a career that requires professionals. As in many professional career paths, education and growth are needed to build proficiency. It’s not uncommon for individuals and their organizations to earn professional certifications from a wide variety of development sources. In our company, we have professionals certified in general landscaping, irrigation, hardscape paver installation, dry stack wall building, and tree care, to name a few.
Landscape professionals commonly utilize math and science skills in their daily work environments. The calculation of slope ratios, square footage, volume, and estimation are regular occurrences, as are the identification of plant species, climate conditions, and the water table. When seeking this as a career, you must be comfortable using these skills both for your own career satisfaction and also in support of your clients and business.
You don’t need to “deal with people.”
Landscaping is a service. A landscaper is a person or organization providing skilled labor and services to other organizations or people. By its nature, services require dealing with clients.
While it is accurate that a landscaper’s interaction with a client may be brief or infrequent, it does occur, and excellent service skills should be provided. Landscapers should educate, inform, and interact with their clients regularly to ensure the service being provided is as expected, and fulfills the needs of the client.
Anybody can do it.
If the information mentioned prior wasn’t evidence enough against this notion, the industry facts should be. In an industry poll, 77% of landscape firms responded that their business growth was hindered by the lack of qualified hirable candidates. These companies want to grow, but struggle based on the lack of skilled help. If anyone could do it, they could hire anyone and grow.
The notion that anyone can landscape is a driving force behind the lack of qualified candidates. Some individuals who are considering a career in landscaping believe their willingness to “show up” is a qualification, and as a result, they neglect to learn what the industry views as prime qualifications.
Is it possible to begin a career in landscaping without qualifications? Yes. If you are willing to start in an entry-level position, plan on a learning curve as you gain the knowledge and trade skills to become a qualified professional. Otherwise, you may want to consider joining a horticulture, agriculture, or equipment operations educational program. Many high schools offer these programs, as do colleges and universities such as the University of Massachusetts Stockbridge, Paul Smiths College, or the University of Maine Orono. Some landscape businesses like Belknap Landscape also offer an apprenticeship program as a way to gain the skills you’ll need.
There’s little opportunity or growth.
The Lakes Region Planning Commission, in a study conducted with the State of New Hampshire, predicts that landscape job opportunities will grow by 9.4% by the year 2022, with supervisory positions in landscape also increasing by 8.4%. This is more than double the area average in job growth and outpaces many high demand professions such as nurse assistants, computer programmers, and network administrators, to name a few.
Additionally, landscaping is a career which can present personal career growth opportunity. While working for a landscape company, depending on their size and long-term goals, there may be several levels of supervisory or management opportunities for an employee to achieve. As a landscape company owner, expansion and company growth may be realized. Both are dependent on the acquisition of skills and qualifications required to grow, but as in most careers, motivated difference-makers do have opportunities they could realize.
Landscaping could be a good career choice for you. To learn more, reach out to your local landscaping company and talk to their Human Resources Department. As with any career choice, the more you know and understand before you begin, the more successful and rewarding your career can be!