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Build Your Career as a Horticulturist: An Ultimate Guide


Are you excited whenever you see beautifully grown vines, shurbs and trees? Would you like to grow plants, flowers and vegetables to beautify landscapes as well as distribute healthy products to consumers? Take a look at what Horticulturists do!

Horticulturists grow and process flowers, ornamental plants, fruits, vegetables and also medicinal plants. They prepare soils for sowing the plant seeds, nurture and grow the plants, collect the produce (flowers, fruits, vegetables, etc.), process them and distribute them for selling and for other purposes. Horticulturists grow ornamental plants to beautify a place such as a garden or even larger spaces such as a ranch. Some Horticulturists are concerned with preparing and maintenance of turfs for different games such as golf, horse racing, etc.

Why become a Horticulturist?

Horticulture is the scientific methodology to cultivate, process and produce crops that yield the desired quality; like flowers, plants and vegetables that are used for food and non-food purposes such as ornamental and decorative purposes. Horticulturists conduct research in gardening and landscaping, plant propagation, crop production, plant breeding, genetic engineering, plant biochemistry, and plant physiology. Their work mainly involves fruits, vegetables, flowers, trees, shrubs, turf, and soil management.

As a Horticulturist, you will apply your skills and technologies to cultivate and grow with the intention of quality, nutritional value, and resistance to insects, diseases, and reduce environmental damage by taking on approaches such as water waste reduction and chemical-free methods of pest management.

Some Horticulturists also have a more commercial approach like designing commercial landscapes or managing sports turf and golf courses.

Below are some of the specializations you may choose from –

  1. Garden Designer: Garden Designers specialise in designing and creating plans for layout and planting of gardens and landscapes. They manage the overall look and feel of the garden. They also have knowledge of soil, design, climatic zone and kids of plants that can grow in the garden.
  2. Floriculturist: Floriculturist specialises in the cultivation of flowering and ornamental plants. As a floriculturist, you will work to grow and maintain flowers and floral plans. You will work on the plant breeding to ensure the growth and propagation of plant continues. As a floriculturist, you will grow houseplants, pot plants, flowering garden, cut cultivated greens, and cut flowers.
  3. Turf Specialist: Turf specialists specialise in the management, care, and growth of sporting turfs. As a turf specialise, you will be working in stadiums, grounds of various sports including Cricket, Football, Tennis (Grass Court), Golf, Athletics Stadium, etc. You will maintain the right amount of grass on the ground, cut the grass from key areas like pitch in cricket, give regular water and manure, and keep weed out of the grass. You will also ensure good drainage system so that rain does not affect the game.
  4. Arboriculturist: Arboriculturists specialise in the cultivation and management of shrubs, vines, and other perennial woody plants (the perennial plant is a plant that lives for more than 2 years).  As an Arboriculturist, you will take care of big size trees and shrubs in gardens, office areas, roadside trees, etc.
  5. Landscaping Designer: Landscaping designers and architectures specialise in modifying the visible features of an area. As a landscaping designer, you will work on the designing of the area, adding garden and plants, understanding soil, etc.
  6. Olericulturist: Olericulturists specialise in the science of growing vegetables. As an olericulurists, you will work to nurture plants what have some parts that can be used as vegetables. Some of these plants may have eatable leaves like spinach, some of them have eatable roots like carrots, potato, etc. some of them will be legumes like beans and peas, etc. You will work to produce, store and process vegetables.
  7. Pomologist: Pomologists specialise in the science of growing fruits. Apart from growing fruits, you will also be working towards research leading to development, enhancement, and cultivation of fruits.
  8. Viticulturist: Viticulturists specialise in the science of cultivation and harvesting grapes. As a Viticulturist, you will ensure controlling of pests and diseases, irrigation, canopy management, harvesting and vine pruning (removal of plants of the tree that are dead).
  9. Floriculturist: Floriculture is meant for those who are passionate about flowers. This specialization is also known as flower farming and deals with the study of growing flowering plants. A floriculturist grows flowers for recreational and ornamental purposes that can later be used in the pharmaceutical sector and for perfumery. A floriculturist can work in greenhouses/poly houses and gardens/open fields and can also work as interior decorators, wholesale florists and floral designers.
  10. Landscape Horticulturist: Landscape horticulture is the placement of plants, vines, shrubs, trees and flowers to create a picturesque landscape. A landscape horticulturist learns how to combine plants with bricks, concrete and stones and other construction materials to beautify any landscape. The designs can help maintain temperature, reduce noise and glare, and provide increased security. A landscape horticulturist can work at sites line residences, businesses, roadways, parks and playgrounds.
  11. Fruit Scientist (Pomologist): Pomology is the study of cultivation of fruits and nuts such including oranges, pears, walnuts and almonds. The responsibilities of a pomologist involve enhancing the fruit quality, regulating production periods and ensuring the fruits are commercially viable.
  12. Horticultural Entomologist: The study of insects and their relationship with other organisms, humans and the environment is known as Entomology. With respect to horticulture, horticultural entomologists study insects to understand developments in pest control, pharmaceuticals epidemiology, food and fiber production and storage and biological diversity. Gathering all this information will help grow plants more efficiently and prevent them from decaying.
  13. Horticultural Plant Pathologist: Plant pathology is the study of the health of plants. A plant pathologist works towards identifying diseases caused to fruits, vegetables, flowers and other plants due to pests, fungi, bacteria and other types of viruses. A horticultural plant pathologist has an important job because the diagnosis, forecasting, management, and forewarning of diseases can not only help enhance the yield and quality of horticultural crops but also benefit the society at large.
  14. Plantation, Spices, Medicinal and Aromatic Crops Scientist: Materials such as essential oils, pharmaceuticals, colorants, dyes, cosmetics and biocides are obtained from plants. Many species of medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) are cultivated for such industrial uses, but most are still wild collected. The need for renewable sources of industrial products as well as the need to protect plant biodiversity creates an opportunity for farmers to produce such crops. As Scientist in this field, you will oversee all the activities related to cultivation, research and development, trade, value-addition and quality control about all medicinal and aromatic plants including their final products.
  15. Vegetable Scientist (Olericulturist): Olericulture is the study of growing vegetables and plants for their edible parts. Some examples of vegetable crops are pot herbs and greens, (spinach), salad crops (lettuce and celery), root crops (carrots and potatoes) and bulb crops (onions and leeks). An Olericulturist or a vegetable scientist deals with research and improvement of growth of these crops, along with storing, processing and marketing the produce.
  16. Viticulturist: Viticulture is the art of cultivation and harvesting of grapes, keeping in mind a combination of the science behind growing it and the nutritional value of grapes. These grapes are also produced to turn it into wine, and a viticulturist is involved in the processes such as the production of grapes in natural conditions, excellent understanding of optimum ripeness and proper harvesting, diagnosing and solving viticulture problems, and collecting and organizing data reports to support farming and marketing decision making.
  17. Oenologist: Oenology is the study of wine and winemaking. It is different from Viticulture since the latter is more about the agricultural aspect of grapes and wine. Oenologists are also known as winemakers and supervise and manage the stages of wine production. They coordinate with viticulturists for growing and harvesting grapes, directing the fermentation process, monitoring the ageing process and overseeing bottling of wines. Oenologists can also develop new wines and participate in the administrative side of the winemaking business.

What does Horticulturist do?

As a Horticulturist, you may work in multiple workspaces such as greenhouses, nurseries and plant production organizations. You can choose to work in any department such as research, management, consultation, teaching and farming and can be qualified to do a variety of jobs. Following are some of your key roles and responsibilities:

  • Engaging in plant research within a particular discipline such as floriculture, viticulture or pomology. Some horticulturists study plant evolution and development under natural conditions while some may conduct research in very controlled settings.
  • Planting seeds, bulbs, flowers, shrubs and trees, and doing maintenance work such as weeding, fertilising, pruning and cutting.
  • Planning and designing of complex arboreal systems and gardens.
  • Preparing land for plant cultivation and having knowledge about treating plants to avoid and control insect infestation and disease.
  • Working in landscape horticulture and advising clients on proper plant products and irrigation to maintain the look and integrity of the greenery.
  • Providing consultation to various farmers, landscapers and other customers and advising them on planting, growing, and harvesting techniques.
  • Researching and writing for publications or giving public speeches regarding environmental sustainability and protection.

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How to become a Horticulturist – Eligibility criteria

You should either do a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture or in Horticulture. Then you may opt to do a Master’s degree in Horticulture / Floriculture / Fruit Science / Horticultural Entomology / Horticultural Plant Pathology / Vegetable Science / or in a similar subject. You may also opt for a Ph.D. after your Master’s degree.

Educational Fees

The educational fees for becoming a plant scientist in India can vary depending on the institution and the program you choose. Generally, a Bachelor’s degree in plant sciences can cost anywhere between INR 50,000 to INR 2 lakhs per year. A Master’s degree in the same field can cost between INR 1 lakh to INR 3 lakhs per year. For pursuing a Ph.D. in plant sciences, the fees can range from INR 10,000 to INR 1 lakh per year depending on the institution. Additionally, there may be other costs associated with textbooks, laboratory fees, and accommodation. Some universities also offer scholarships and financial aid to deserving students.

Job Opportunities

After M.Sc., you can work as a Research Associate or Junior Research Fellow and then as a Senior Research Fellow in agricultural research institutes/universities.

After M.Sc., you can work as a Project Assistant in NGOs and agricultural research organizations/NGOs dealing with agricultural resources and related issues.

After Ph.D., you can work as a Scientist/ Assistant Professor at a university.

You can work as a Management Trainee in any company that deals with growing or selling of these plant/plan products.

You can work as an Assistant Horticulture Inspector who is hired by the State or Central Government after clearing the Civil Services Exam.

You can work as a Technical Assistant in almost every field and assist with data and paperwork.

Salary of a Horticulturist

In Government jobs, horticulturists can earn the following salaries per month: 

If you’re starting out as a fresher, for the first 2 years you can earn a salary of Rs. 550,000 – 65,000.

After 3-8 years of experience, you can earn a salary of Rs. 65,000 – 80,000.

After 9-15 years of work experience, you can earn a salary of Rs. 1,20,000 – 1,70,000.

With 15-20 or more years of work experience, you can earn a salary of Rs. 1,80,000 – 2,40,000.

In Private sector companies, horticulturists can earn the following salaries per month:

With a fresher’s job, for the first 2 years, you can earn a salary of Rs. 15,000 – 25,000.

After 3-8 years of experience, you can earn a salary of Rs. 25000 – 60,000.

After 9-15 years of work experience, you can earn a salary of Rs. 1,00,000 – 1,40,000.

With 15-20 or more years of work experience, you can earn a salary of Rs. 1,40,000 – 2,00,000.

In the research and teaching department, you can earn the following salaries per month:

As a Research Associate, you can earn a starting salary of Rs. 15,000 – 25,000. As a Junior Research Fellow, you can earn a salary of Rs. 35,000. Once you become a Senior Research Fellow can earn a salary of Rs. 38,000, and a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow can earn Rs. 45,000 – 55,000.

As an Assistant Professor, you can get a starting salary of Rs. 60,000 – 65,000. As an Associate Professor, you can earn Rs. 80,000 – 1,40,000 and as a Professor, you can get a salary of Rs. 1,60,000 – 2,40,000 per month.

Career progression in Horticulturist

If you work as a Research Associate, then you can further become a Doctoral Research Fellow, a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow and then a Scientist.

If you start working as a Scientist, you will start working as a research scientist. You can then get promoted to a senior research scientist and then a principal scientist.

If you start working as a professor, you will first begin as an Assistant Professor. You can then get promoted to an Associate Professor and then a Professor. Professors can also get administrative positions such as Director/Dean/Vice Chancellor, etc.

When you start out as a Management Trainee, you can go on to become an Executive Manager and then an Assistant Manager.  You can further get promoted to a Senior Manager, a Deputy Manager and then a Product Manager.

When you start working as an assistant horticulture inspector after clearing your exam, you can further work as a horticulture inspector. You can further get promoted to a district horticulture inspector, a farm supervisor or a marketing inspector.

You can also build a career by being self-employed and working as a Horticulture Consultant or Therapist, Floral decorator/ Fruit/ Vegetable / Flower grower etc. you can also choose to be an entrepreneur also by setting up a horticulture farm and growing fruits, vegetables or flowers or a horticulture nursery for nursery production of horticultural plants.

Horticulture sector has become one of the major drivers of the growth in the agricultural industry in India. This sector enables the population at large to enjoy a diverse and balanced diet for healthy living.

The percentage share of horticultural crops is 30% of the total agricultural output, and India is the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world, and the leader in several crops such as mangoes, papaya, cashew nuts, potatoes and okra.  Over the last decade, the area under horticulture grew by about 3% per annum and annual production increased by 5.4%. The production of vegetables has increased from 58.5 million tonnes to 175 million tonnes from 1991-92 to 2016-17.

In addition to the beautification of the local landscape, the production share of various Horticulture crops include enormous scope exists for export of flowers; and floriculture is important for beekeeping industry which too provides an alternate source of income to professionals. The highest production of Flowers was recorded in Tamil Nadu (416.63 Thousand Tonnes) followed by Karnataka (280.92 Thousand Tonnes).

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