Comparative Salaries of Horticulture Careers

Horticulture is the study of fruits, vegetables and landscape plants used for human consumption, garden decoration and environmental management. Work in the field encompasses several positions from grounds maintenance staff who require no education to scientists who need a minimum Ph.D. The highest paying horticulture jobs require a college education.

College Teaching

ONET OnLine shows specific job titles within horticulture careers. Post-secondary agricultural sciences teachers earned a median salary of ​$90,340​ per year. This was as of May 2020, according to data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These teachers deliver lectures to students on such topics as plant genetics, dairy management and crop production.

They also prepare lesson plans and course materials, evaluate and grade students’ class work and facilitate classroom discussions. In addition, they conduct research in horticultural studies and write grant proposals to obtain research funding. ONET OnLine reveals that in 2020 an estimated 55 percent of these teachers had doctoral degrees and another 27 percent had post-doctoral training.

Plant Science Careers

Soil and plant scientists received a mean ​$36.68​ per hour or ​$76,290​ per year in 2021, according to the BLS. However, salaries could fall to less than ​$19.22​ per hour or ​$39,980​ per year or rise to more than ​$61.03​ per hour or ​$126,950​ per year. These scientists research ways to improve the breeding, yield and physiology of plants, trees, shrubs and nursery stock.

They develop ways to preserve the soils, investigate how plants and soil react to different management practices, and identify degraded or contaminated soils. They also recommend better horticultural practices to farmers, and communicate research findings to other horticultural professionals or the public. O*NET OnLine reports that 19 percent of these scientists had doctoral degrees, 24 percent had bachelor’s degrees and 29 percent held master’s degrees.

Horticultural Managers

Greenhouse and nursery managers earned a median salary of ​$32.73​ per hour or ​$68,090​ per year in 2020, according to ONET OnLine. They supervise the activities of workers who propagate, cultivate and harvest such horticultural specialties as trees, shrubs, flowers and mushrooms. They hire and train workers, assign tasks and schedules, select and purchase seeds and supplies, and explain and enforce safety regulations and procedures.

These horticultural managers often tour work areas to inspect crops and monitor work performance. They may also apply pesticides and fertilizers to plants. Although a high school diploma can qualify for entry-level jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that an associate or bachelor's degree in horticulture or agriculture is helpful in understanding the complexities of modern farming.

Horticulture Jobs with No Degrees

Not all horticultural careers require an advance degree. In fact, those classified as grounds maintenance workers need no formal education because they are trained on the job by more experienced workers or supervisors. However, most states mandate licensing for those handling pesticides, and certification is also available from national organizations.

Examples of workers who do not require education include landscaping and groundskeeping workers who maintain lawns. They earned a median salary of ​$15.26​ per hour or ​$31,730​ per year as of May 2020, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Tree trimmers and pruners received a median ​$22.58​ per hour or ​$46,970​ per year. And pesticide applicators for vegetables made a median ​$18.40​ per hour or ​$38,270​ per year.