Horticultural Assistant

Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects
Openings 5 years to November 2020: 25,001 to 50,000
Median weekly earnings: <$950
Australian Government Department of Employment projections to 2020
Horticultural assistants undertake a range of tasks involving the cultivation, growing, harvesting and maintenance of trees, plants and gardens.

TAFE SA courses that may be relevant for: Horticultural Assistant

Accredited (Award)

  • The diversity of job possibilities for a Horticultural assistant are as diverse as the plant species they work with. From lawn mowing and garden maintenance, to land restoration and irrigation installation, they are working hard to care for our parks and gardens. "Whether you specialise in landscape gardening or elect to become a parks and gardens specialist, gardening is about working with the environment to facilitate plant growth and to create a pleasing space," says a gardener.

  • While you can undertake gardening work without qualifications, it is advantageous to complete certificate or diploma courses in horticulture.

    TAFE SA offers courses relevant to this occupation including the Diploma of Horticulture,Diploma of Landscape Design or Diploma of Arboriculture. Pathways include the Certificate II, III and IV in Horticulture; Certificate III in Production Horticulture; Certificate III in Landscape Design; and Certificate III in Arboriculture.

    Still unsure? Then try a short course also offered through TAFE SA - check the website for short courses available.

  • Gardening can be hard, physical work. You'll have to enjoy being outdoors, no matter what the weather and be willing to get dirty. The work hours are often flexible and that can mean starting at 5:30 in the morning some days and finishing at 9:30 at night on others, all depending on the project. Often Garden and Nursery Labourers work in groups or lead teams on a project, so its necessary to enjoy team work and to have very good communication skills. Public relations is an important part of the job for Garden and Nursery Labourers at King's Park and other popular parks and gardens. They need to be well acquainted with the park's flora, so they can assist in answering any questions posed to them by visitors or from the educational talks and tours they may give.

    Gardeners who specialise in parks and gardens, work in local councils, botanical gardens, parks and residential and commercial gardens (usually undertaking plant maintenance). Landscape gardeners may be self employed or work for a landscaping company. They undertake residential, commercial or government landscaping projects, including gardens and sub divisions. A major change occurring in the horticulture industry is the trend towards formal qualifications for all horticultural workers. One industry representative says, "if you are entering the industry without qualifications, your likelihood of moving up the ranks are becoming increasingly limited."

    Employment growth in the horticultural area is expected to be moderate, though many opportunities for work are provided through the high rate of job turnover. At present, experienced, qualified landscape gardeners are difficult to find, according to industry sources. However, the popularity of the occupation means that large numbers are keen to undertake training and so competition for apprenticeships or traineeships is likely to be strong.

  • Horticultural assistants need to understand how complete ecosystems work so that they can make decisions on the best time and place to plant bulbs and seeds, the most effective pest control methods, effective companion planting and attracting the birds and the bees. Once the plants have been chosen, the Garden and Nursery Labourer prepares for planting by clearing the area and ensuring that the seedlings or plants have the right nutrients to grow healthily, often by adding fertilisers. Irrigation may also need to be installed or the seedlings might need to be given regular attention to ensure they thrive.

  • Apart from planting, gardeners regularly undertake plant maintenance such as weeding and pruning, fertilising and spraying for pests, balancing the needs of the plants against those of the environment. Mowing, edging, looking after the equipment, the gardening cycle really never ends!

    They must be prepared to undertake manual and heavy work. They also must be able to work safely with chemicals and machinery. Gardeners must also be able to work for long hours and work outdoors in all sorts of weather conditions.

  • Horticultural assistants work in most parts of Australia and part-time work is fairly common, however, more than half work full-time. Full-time workers, on average, work 39.5 hours per week.

    Landscape and garden design is another stream of gardening. Using their knowledge of horticulture and design, landscape gardeners help people to create their ideal outdoor environment by developing new gardens and redesigning old ones. They organise all aspects of the garden or landscape, providing advice on the plants, shrubs or flowers and the best type of irrigation system to use. They also design features or structures such as ponds, walls, paths, pergolas and children's playing equipment and oversee their installation. John, a landscape gardener in Perth says, ''I love gardening, in the short time you work on a project, the difference is unbelievable. I get a buzz out of seeing an ordinary, unattractive garden transformed into one that looks a million dollars.''