20 Careers With Plants to Consider If You Have a Green Thumb

Published January 5, 2022
The female gardener holds a pot of plants in the greenhouse

Are you looking for a way to leverage your green thumb into a career opportunity? There are a number of fun and interesting jobs that involve working with plants. Whether you love growing and caring for vegetables, flowers, houseplants, trees, or any other kinds of plants, there are many job options to consider.

Plants Jobs That Require a Degree

If you have a passion for science and love working with plants, there are several interesting occupations for you to consider. The jobs in this section require at least a bachelor's degree in a relevant field of study. Many require a master's degree or higher.

Horticulturist

Horticulturists use their scientific expertise to cultivate, grow, and propagate plants. There are many types of jobs in the horticulture field. Many horticulturists focus on agricultural work that focuses on improving the hardiness and yields of crops that produce fruits and vegetables. They also seek ways to improve the flavor of fruits and vegetables and seek to identify ways to optimize growing conditions. On average, horticulturists earn around $40,000 per year.

Botanist

Technician checking plants in the commercial greenhouse

Botanists are scientists who study various aspects of plants, including how they grow and impact the environment in which they exist. Some botanists focus on using plants to develop fuel or medicine, while others explore things like how to improve communities or ecosystems with native plants, or how to use plants to help decontaminate land or the overall environment. The average annual compensation for botanists is around $58,000 per year.

Conservation Scientist

If you love plants, chances are you're passionate about protecting the soil in which they grow. Conservation scientists focus on protecting the land where plants grow, along with other natural resources. They focus on protecting the earth's natural resources from being destroyed by manmade practices. Conservation scientists often work in forestry management and sustainable agriculture. The average pay for conservation scientists is around $64,000 per year.

Park Ranger

If you want to work in conservation but would rather be outdoors most of the time rather than working in a lab, consider a career as a park ranger. These jobs involve enforcing park regulations, maintaining park resources, and educating the public about the park's flora and fauna. Most park rangers work in state parks or federal parks. The average pay for park rangers varies based on your degree of education and your location.

Naturopathic Doctor

Homeopathic Medicine

If you are passionate about the medicinal uses of plants and want to work in healthcare, consider becoming a doctor of naturopathic medicine. This requires an intensive, four-year graduate program at a naturopathic medical school that provides scientific education similar to what is taught in traditional medical school, as well as training on botanical and homeopathic medicine and the role of nutrition in wellness. The median pay for naturopathic doctors is around $82,000 per year.

Agriculture Educator

Some secondary schools and community colleges offer agricultural education programs that are taught by professional agriculture educators. Secondary school teachers must have a degree in agriculture education or a closely related field and hold state-specific teacher certification. Community college instructors do not have to be certified, but may need an advanced degree along with hands-on experience. The average pay for agriculture educators is around $46,000 per year.

Careers With Plants to Beautify Spaces

Quite a few careers involve using plants to beautify outdoor areas. Some of these jobs require degrees and involve design work, while others involve working with your hands and tools directly in the dirt.

Landscape Architect

Landscape architect drawing and colored pencils

Landscape architects are degreed, licensed professionals who design outdoor spaces. They actually do most of their work indoors, as they are responsible for deciding where and how plants should be placed in parks, commercial developments, and large upscale residential developments. The median pay for landscape architects is over $70,000 per year.

Landscape Designers

Landscape designers also work with clients to create beautiful settings through the use of plants. There is no specific degree or licensure required to work as a landscape designer. Landscape designers typically work with individual residential clients rather than large-scale projects that require the expertise of a landscape architect. The average pay for landscape designers is around $51,000 per year.

Landscapers

Landscapers cut grass and hedges, as well as install and maintain plants in the yards of residential and/or commercial clients. They sometimes implement plans drawn up by landscape designers, though they often simply put in plants as requested by the property owners for whom they are providing services. The average pay for landscapers is around $26,000 per year. Some landscapers are self-employed, though many work for landscaping companies.

Grounds Maintenance Workers

Grounds maintenance workers, also referred to as groundskeepers, are responsible for maintaining the outdoor areas parks, golf courses, sports facilities, municipal buildings, and office complexes. Others work in commercial settings, maintaining the grounds of apartments, condominiums, and shopping centers. The mean pay for grounds maintenance workers is around $32,000 per year.

Retail Jobs With Plants and Flowers

There are a number of ways to incorporate your passion for plants with a retail job. The following positions are ideal for people who enjoy working with members of the public and have a knack for taking care of plants that are available for customers to buy.

Floral Designers

Woman cut bunch for making decorations and arrangements

Working as a floral designer in a flower shop or grocery store with a floral department is a great opportunity for people who are looking for a retail job that involves working with plants and flowers. In this type of job, you'll be responsible for taking care of houseplants and outdoor plants the store has for sale, and for creating flower arrangements using a combination of cut flowers and live plants. The median pay for floral designers is around $29,000 per year.

Big-Box Garden Center Worker

Big-box home improvement stores like Lowes, Home Depot, and Walmart have extensive garden centers that are staffed throughout daytime and evening shifts seven days per week. Garden center team members in these stores water and otherwise take care of the plants and assist customers as needed. Big-box garden center jobs typically pay between $11 and $15 per hour, depending on the location. Some are part-time and some are full-time. These jobs tend to offer a good deal of schedule flexibility.

Plant Nursery Worker

Rather than working in the garden center of a large retail operation, you may prefer the idea of working in a plant nursery that sells plants to individual customers and professional landscapers. These stores generally offer a wider variety of plants than home improvement or department stores. Customers expect a higher level of plant knowledge from nursery employees than those who work in big-box garden centers. Employees in this type of garden center earn around $32,000 per year, on average.

Botanical Attraction Worker

Tropical Botanical Garden

If you love the idea of being surrounded by plants in a retail job, consider venturing into the botanical garden segment of the travel and tourism industry. If you sell tickets to those who visit botanical gardens or other plant-focused tourist attractions or work in the gift shop or a food venue, you'll get to see beautiful plants throughout each workday without having to tend them yourself. The median pay for retail jobs is around $13 per hour.

Plants Job Ideas for Entrepreneurs

Not all plant-related jobs require working for a company. If you like the idea of owning and operating your own small business, consider the entrepreneurial opportunities below. Of course, how much you can earn will depend on how solid your business plan is, and how successful your efforts are. If you want to become a plant entrepreneur, consider combining several of the ideas below to generate multiple income streams.

Flower Farmer

Gardener inspecting his flowers

If you love growing flowers, consider becoming a flower farmer. You could earn money selling cut flowers and floral arrangements at a local farmer's market or vendor shows. With enough production, you may also be able to supply local stores with flowers to sell, or create arrangements made from your homegrown flowers for weddings and other special events.

Market Gardener

If you are more interested in growing fruit, vegetables, and herbs than flowers and are able to grow more than you need, consider becoming a market gardener. This involves growing food to sell to consumers. You could sell homegrown produce and plant starts at a roadside stand or farmer's market, or even start your own community-supported agriculture (CSA) share program.

You-Pick Grower

If you have a good bit of land, consider dedicating a few fields of flowers or vegetables as you-pick fields that you open up to members of the public who would like to pick their own vegetables rather than buy produce from a farmer's market or store. You'd simply need to set a per pound (or per item) rate for whatever is in season, then promote your open hours to customers in the local community via your website, email list, or social media profiles.

Local Restaurant Supplier

You don't have to limit yourself to selling the produce you grow directly to consumers. Many restaurants actively seek locally sourced fruit and vegetables to feature on their menus. By building relationships with restaurant owners and managers who are seeking local food suppliers, you can expand your ability to sell what you grow while also participating in the "eat local" movement.

Herbalist

Herbalist in apothecary shop

If you love growing herbs and are enthusiastic about holistic remedies, working as an herbalist may be a good option for you. Practicing herbalists need to complete an extensive program of study offered through a school of herbal medicine. Most herbalists are self-employed. They often grow herbs and use them to make herbal remedies and other products that they sell directly to clients or through stores. They also often teach others about how herbs can be used for therapeutic purposes.

Plant Writer/Blogger

If you love growing plants and have strong writing skills, you may be able to combine your interests to build a writing career. Start by writing a few sample articles to build a portfolio, then seek freelance writing gigs with plant-focused websites or publications. Consider starting a blog or YouTube channel focused on plants as a way to build a following and generate revenue via plant-related affiliate programs or advertisements. You may even be able to publish a book about plants.

Pursue Your Passion for Plants

There's nothing more rewarding than a career that allows you to earn a living while pursuing something you are passionate about. Whether you want to design beautiful spaces, be involved in growing or protecting plants, or simply want to be surrounded by the beauty of plants, there are plenty of interesting career paths to consider. For even more ideas, explore this list of agriculture careers. Whether you're looking for an entry-level job or a lifelong career, there are probably more plants jobs out there than you expected to find.

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20 Careers With Plants to Consider If You Have a Green Thumb