How to Become a Nursery Operator

How To Become a Nursery Operator: Career Guide

To become a nursery operator you need a combination of industry experience, the proper skill set, and knowing where to look for a job.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to succeed in a career as a nursery operator.


We've also included helpful information for a nursery operator career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Needed to Become a Nursery Operator

Depending on the employer, you may need a diploma or an undergraduate degree in horticulture, agriculture, botany, management or a related field if you wish to become a nursery operator.


Even if an employer doesn’t require formal post-secondary education in these fields, it can still be of great benefit to have. For example, coursework in areas such as botany can provide you with knowledge related to proper growing conditions for crops and various causes of plant disease.




Nursery Operator Job Description

Nursery operators oversee the planning and coordination of nursery staff activities. The nursing staff are responsible for propagating, growing and marketing trees, shrubs and perennial plants. Nursery operators may deal with all kinds of trees and shrubs or specialize in a perennial herbaceous plants or a combination of a few kinds of trees.



Nursery Operator Job Duties

• Analyze market conditions to determine which types and quantities of shrubs, trees and perennial plants to grow

• Set planting and caring schedules based on the environmental conditions required to grow the plants

• Prepare budget and operate within its parameters

• Recruit, hire, train, supervise and support staff

• Ensure nursery policies and procedures are followed

• Oversee the acquisition and maintenance of supplies and equipment

• Develop and implement marketing plans

• Develop and implement pest management plans

• Ensure that pesticides and other chemicals are handled and disposed of safely



How to Get a Job as a Nursery Operator

Getting a job as a nursery operator typically requires experience as a junior-level employee in a greenhouse or nursery. If you have all of the necessary skills and experience needed to become a nursery operator, you can begin contacting employers to express interest in becoming part of their team!


Success Tip: Many nursery operators are self-employed; if you have the skills and a little start-up capital, try starting your own nursery!



Who Hires Nursery Operators?

Nursery operators can be hired by any organization that grows trees, flowers and other plants for commercial or retail purposes. These employers typically include:


• Agricultural companies

• Lawn and garden centres

• Privately owned greenhouses

• Service firms to agriculture

• Self-employment

• Supermarkets that operate seasonal greenhouses and nurseries




Nursery Operator Salary

Nursery Operator Salary Alberta: According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, those working the in Nursery and Greenhouse Operators and Managers occupational group in Alberta earned an average wage of $23.01 to $25.59 per hour.


Nursery Operator Salary United States: In the United States the salary numbers are a little more difficult to determine, as it is very difficult to acquire accurate information regarding the salary levels of nursery operators specifically. The U.S Labor and Statistics reports that the median salary for Farmers, Ranchers and Other Agricultural Managers, which includes nursery operators, was $60,750 USD per year.


Please Note: Salary levels can vary considerably for nursery operators, depending on the level of education, who the employer is (or if they are self-employed), and the amount of experience.



Skills Needed to Succeed as a Nursery Operator

Below is a list of skills and attributes you’ll need if you want to become a successful nursery operator.


• Strong interest in plants and working with plants

• Problem solving skills

• Ability to delegate work and make difficult decisions

• Proficiency in various computer programs, such as inventory tracking systems

• Manual dexterity can be helpful when dealing with plants and equipment

• Lack of allergies to plants, pollen and various chemicals

• Attentive to details

• Industry specific knowledge and skills



Examples of Alternate Occupational Titles

Not every Nursery Operator is a "Nursery Operator". Below are some examples of other titles that nursery operators may be known by:


• Christmas tree farm operator

• Flower grower

• Greenhouse farmer

• Greenhouse manager

• Greenhouse operator

• Nursery farmer

• Nursery manager

• Plant grower



Careers Similar to Nursery Operator

Listed below are jobs that are similar in nature to Nursery Operator, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.




Greenhouse Operator


Market Gardener

Range Manager



References: Nursery Operator Career

Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a Nursery Operator.



Wages & Salaries in Alberta:Nursery Operator.” (December 1, 2012). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 5, 2020.

Occupational Employment and Wages:Farmworkers and Laborers, Crop, Nursery, and Greenhouse.” (September 10, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved January 5, 2020.

Job Description: Nursery Operator.” (n.d.). U.S. Department of Agriculture - Forestry Services website. Retrieved January 5, 2020.

Profession: Nursery and greenhouse workers.” (n.d.). Emploi Quebec website. Retrieved January 5, 2020.



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Scholarships for Becoming a Nursery Operator

Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming a Nursery Operator can be found on the following pages:


Botany Scholarships

Environmental Engineering Scholarships

Environmental Science Scholarships


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Becoming a Nursery Operator: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a Nursery operator. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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