Working in professional gardening - careers fact file

Gardens manager

Recommended band £37,418 to £53,843-plus.
Reports to Owner, property manager, board of trustees or similar.
Line management responsibility Ten-to-50 employees supervised.
Budget responsibility £300,000-plus, comprising both expenses and wages.

Knowledge, skills and experience

  • NVQ level 4 or equivalent plus substantial horticultural experience.
  • Formal management training allied with proven management experience.
  • Budget planning and control skills.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills.
  • Detailed understanding of relevant health and safety regulations, environmental management and employment legislation, plus manual handling and risk assessment.

Head gardener

Recommended band £30,450 to £42,000-plus.
Reports to Owner, gardens manager, gardens adviser, property manager or similar.
Line management responsibility Two-to-10 employees supervised, plus volunteers and contractors where appropriate.
Budget responsibility Garden expenses excluding wages.

Knowledge, skills and experience

  • NVQ level 3 or equivalent, NCH, HND, OND, City & Guilds, Kew
  • or Edinburgh diploma in horticulture, RHS level 2/3, MHort RHS.
  • Proven track record of high-quality horticultural work.
  • People-management and communication skills training as well as proven supervisory experience.
  • Thorough understanding of relevant health and safety regulations, formal training in manual handling and risk assessment, valid driving licence.

Deputy head/sole gardener

Recommended band £25,763 to £32,784-plus.
Reports to Head gardener, owner, property manager, gardens adviser or similar.
Line management responsibility Assistant or part-time gardeners, contractors and volunteers supervised in absence of head gardener or other line manager.
Budget responsibility Day-to-day expenses, petty cash purchases or similar.

Knowledge, skills and experience

  • NVQ level 3 or equivalent, RHS level 1/2/3, HND, OND, City & Guilds.
  • At least three years’ relevant experience in horticulture, one year’s proven supervisory experience, and comprehensive plant knowledge.
  • Clear understanding of the relevant health and safety legislation, formal training in manual handling and risk assessment, valid driving licence.

Gardener (skilled)


Recommended band £23,421 to £30,448-plus.
Reports to Head gardener, deputy head gardener, owner, property manager or similar.
Line management responsibility Basic guidance of trainees and volunteers under supervision of head gardener.
Budget responsibility None.

Knowledge, skills and experience

  • Practical experience and/or entry-level qualification in gardens and/or landscape management. NVQ level 1/2, RHS level 1/2.
  • Comprehensive plant knowledge, keen interest in gardens and landscapes, familiarity with most gardening practices and use and maintenance of machinery — mowers, strimmers, etc.
  • Willingness to work alongside and to support other staff members and volunteers.
  • Well-motivated, with an eye for detail and a desire to achieve high standards plus an ability to work on own initiative.
  • Good written and verbal communication skills, organisational skills, understanding of health and safety issues, valid driving licence.


Gardener


Recommended band £18,737 to £24,595-plus.
Reports to Head gardener, deputy head gardener, owner, property manager or similar.
Line management responsibility None.
Budget responsibility None.

Knowledge, skills and experience

  • Basic knowledge of plants, gardening practices and use of garden machinery.
  • Appreciation of gardens, willingness to learn new skills.
  • Degree of self-motivation and organisational skills.
  • Good understanding of health and safety issues.


Junior gardener (age 17)/ trainee

Recommended band £16,400 to £18,737-plus.
Reports to Head gardener, deputy head gardener, owner, property manager or similar.
Line management responsibility None.
Budget responsibility None.

Knowledge, skills and experience

  • Willingness to learn by participating in training programmes.
  • Ability to work to agreed standards, with direction, and to work with a wide range of horticultural tools and equipment in a safe manner.
  • Ability to grasp information and apply recently gained knowledge.
  • Keen interest in plants and horticulture, enthusiasm for working outdoors.

The above bands reflect minimum recommended basic salaries with effect from 1 April 2020, based on a 37.5 hour week. The benefit value of any accommodation provided has not been included and should be negotiated separately. Bonuses, overtime and subsistence payments have not been included.

Regional pay variations have been taken into account within the bands. Higher-cost areas of the country would expect to make salary awards at the upper levels of the appropriate band.

Regional pay weighting in London

Inner (within 0-6 miles of Charing Cross) £3,941pa.
Outer (7-16 miles) £2,358pa.
London Fringe (17-22 miles) £700-£1,400pa.

Other UK regions are broadly similar in their pay levels. Expect pay for over-18s in the capital to always be above £22,000 (inner London) or £21,000 (outer London) to ensure a living wage.

It is recommended that junior gardeners, gardeners and skilled gardeners receive financial recognition within the salary bands of £590pa for successful completion of each relevant professional qualification — such as NVQ levels 1 and 2. Employees with other relevant qualifications, such as first aid, chainsaw or spraying certificates, should be recognised with additional remuneration.

It should be noted that while these salary bands are recommended by the Professional Gardeners’ Guild, individual negotiations must be conducted between an employer and employee, taking into account individual circumstances.

Recommended minimum self-employed rates

London £22-£38 per hour.
South East, including East Anglia £21.50-£31 per hour.
Scotland, Wales and UK regions £19.50-£31 per hour.


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