One of the most difficult positions to fill on an agricultural college fac­ulty is that of the floriculture teacher. With graduate degrees required, the number of qualified applicants is significantly less than for any other type of agriculture teaching. Apparently, few individuals pur­sue education in floriculture beyond the associate or bachelor degree level, and even fewer choose teaching or research as career fields. Most
college-educated floriculturists go to work for industry. The shortage of qualified floriculture teachers has existed for some time and shows no sign of disappearing.

Teachers find good opportunities at both the high school and uni­versity levels. The shortage of scientific researchers is not as critical, although it is not an overcrowded career field either. Usually a mini­mum of a master’s degree is required for teaching, and a doctorate is needed for a university research position.

Teachers help students explore a career field that seems to hold some interest for them. The selection of a career field of study is a criti­cal decision in everyone’s life, and a good teacher can be of tremendous importance to the student. Teachers are also responsible for introduc­ing students to many of the skills and techniques used daily by floricul­ture professionals (Figure 15-7). By representing the industry in the classroom, teachers provide their students with insight into the careers they are seeking and help them build confidence in their ability to suc­ceed.

Scientific researchers are constantly seeking ways to improve crops and methods of production (Figure 15-8). Their research may include

figure 15-7. These floriculture students are transplanting seedlings with the guidance of their teacher. Educators trained in floriculture are in high demand as professionals. (Delmar/Cengage Learning. Photo by Jack Ingels.)

figure 15-8. Ongoing university research seeks ways to improve the plants and production methods of the floriculture industry. (Courtesy USDA)

selective breeding to develop new and better plant varieties. It may involve searching for better control of old and recurring pest problems. It may involve searching for ways to lengthen the postharvest life of flowers or ways to produce more crops in less bench area or for less cost. It is the researchers of the profession who keep the industry looking and moving forward. It is the teachers who train young professionals to seek new ideas and methods, and to apply them.


Traditionally, ornamental horticulture has been a craft industry requiring little formal education. While still a small business industry, it has changed and advanced markedly in the past fifty years. Today, the industry offers employment to persons with a diversity of back­grounds, educations, and career goals. Predictably, they have different responsibilities reflecting their different interests and formal prepara­tion.

The general categories of ornamental horticulturists are unskilled laborer, skilled laborer, middle-management professional, owner/oper – ator, and educator/researcher/specialist.

The floriculture industry is involved with the production, distribu­tion, and utilization of floral products, and related goods and services. Its businesses range in size from small shops to international corpora­tions. Numerous career opportunities are available.

Floriculture growers may work as propagators or produce cut flow­ers, potted crops, or foliage plants. They may be owner/operators or skilled laborers. They acquire their education through university pro­grams, on-the-job training, or both.

Wholesale suppliers are the centralized source of the items needed by growers or retailers. Numerous middle-management positions are available. College education in horticulture with a business emphasis is the best preparation.

Flower shops and garden centers are the retail outlets for the flori­culture industry. While some are chain stores, most are small, privately owned businesses. The owner/manager of a retail outlet must have both business and horticulture training, and is likely to be involved directly as a floral designer, greenhouse worker, or salesperson. College level training in horticulture and business is ideal preparation for retail floristry.

Floral designers create the floral products desired by consumers. They must be able to arrange materials in ways that are tailored to the needs of each client. They usually need sales skills also. Training can be acquired through college and noncollege courses as well as on-the-job training.

Landscape floriculture specialists bring their unique knowledge of floral plants to an industry whose clients have a heightened apprecia­tion for the economic benefits of large scale floral displays.

Teachers and researchers are in demand within the industry. Their positions require the greatest educational preparation.



In the table that follows, places Xs where appropriate to match job characteristics with floriculture occupations.




Flower Shop or Garden Center Owner



Teacher or Researcher

Centralized source for items required by growers

Designs flower arrangements

Propagates floral crops

Maintains sanitary production environment

Develops new varieties of plants

Their customers are retail florists

Sales skills are important

Business management training is important

Trains future practitioners

May stock Christmas ornaments, gift items, and pet supplies

Artistic skills required

Attendance at short courses and update sessions is important

Requires the most formal education

Training can be obtained through noncollege private programs

Pathology and entomology training is helpful

Skilled laborer

Middle-management positions are common and available

The position may be filled by an owner/ operator

College training is not mandatory but is a helpful shortcut

Updated: October 6, 2015 — 11:23 am