Similar Titles

Nursery Worker, Greenhouse Technician, Horticultural Technician, Plant Propagation Specialist, Nursery Production Assistant, Plant Care Technician, Nursery Crop Technician, Nursery Operations Associate, Plant Nursery Manager, Nursery Supervisor, Nursery/Greenhouse Manager

Job Description

When we hear the word nursery, we usually think of a small bedroom where a baby or toddler sleeps or gets changed. But there are also plant nurseries, because—like babies—young plants are fragile and need a lot of attention and care! 

Nursery Technicians work in special facilities where they can provide that high-level care to various plants throughout their life cycles. From sowing seeds to managing soil and water requirements and keeping away pests, they help grow plants used for study and for sale. There is usually a range of local, state, or even federal policies and rules associated with this work, especially when dealing with vegetables or other plant types used to produce medicines, aloe vera, teas, oils, or consumer goods

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • Getting to spend time peacefully working with plants 
  • Helping to raise plants that will be used for aesthetic and commercial purposes  
  • Contributing to environmentalism by conserving endangered plant species 
2021 Employment
2031 Projected Employment
The Inside Scoop
Job Responsibilities

Working Schedule

  • Nursery Technicians work full-time, and must be physically capable of standing, bending, stooping, and carrying up to 50 lbs while working with care. 

Typical Duties

  • Take care of mother and clone plants in various settings, in accordance with training and regulations 
  • Spread and plant seeds in soil, by hand or using a seed drill
  • Work indoors inside greenhouses and outdoors to tend to outdoor plants, shrubs, and trees
  • Water seeds and plants as they vegetate via top or bottom watering methods
  • Mark seeded areas with flags
  • Use suitable soil, fertilizer, and soil amendments
  • Prune, plant, defoliate, and skirt plants and shrubs as needed
  • Perform grafting and budding to join two plant types and form a single plant 
  • Cut, roll, and stack sod (aka turf)
  • Stake recently planted trees
  • Package plants for transport
  • Search for pests and use appropriate pesticides 
  • Study causes of decay and report findings 
  • Manage seed supply and other inventory ordering  as assigned
  • Verify seed order weights and labels. Store in suitable containers under optimal temperature and moisture conditions
  • Maintain a safe work environment, especially when handling sharp objects, pesticides, or other chemicals 
  • Maintain accurate records 
  • Comply with good manufacturing practices and standard operating procedures

Additional Responsibilities

  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment 
  • Use caution around wet or damp floors which can be slippery
  • Report unsafe conditions or concerns to a supervisor 
  • Maintain sanitation and follow applicable biosecurity protocols
  • Take care of tools, equipment, and machines. Report needed repairs or maintenance 
  • Stay up to date on different strains and their unique requirements and growth patterns
  • Gather samples for study, make observations, compile data, and enter it into appropriate software
  • Maintain cleanliness of nurseries and labs
  • Utilize meteorological instruments to assess climate conditions 
Skills Needed on the Job

Soft Skills

  • Accuracy 
  • Analytical
  • Detail-oriented
  • Good communicator 
  • Independent 
  • Initiative
  • Methodical 
  • Organized
  • Patient
  • Reliable 
  • Resourceful
  • Sound judgment and decision-making
  • Time management 

Technical Skills

  • Ability to lift and carry up to 50 lbs.
  • Ability to pass background checks, as needed
  • Ability to stand, sit, stoop, and kneel for long periods
  • Basic arithmetic and computer skills 
  • Basic research and measurement-taking skills 
  • Familiarity with Good Manufacturing Practices 
  • Knowledge of nursery operations
  • Minimum age of 21 (for some jobs)
  • No or manageable allergies 
  • Tolerance of relatively high temperatures and high humidity
  • Valid driver’s license (for some jobs)
Different Types of Organizations
  • Crop production facilities 
  • Animal production and aquaculture
  • Wholesale trade companies
  • Other support activities, including college research sites
Expectations and Sacrifices

Nursery Technicians may work with plants used not only for house and garden ornaments but also for medicinal and wellness purposes. Like any product that will be consumed by people, such plants must be handled in strict accordance with various regulations. This may require maintaining specific environmental conditions while wearing protective gear and closely following standard operating procedures. 

Nursery Techs stay physically active, often standing, stooping, or kneeling for most of the day. They may need to lift, carry, and use wheelbarrows to transport soil, fertilizer, compost, plants, trees, and chemicals around. If working outdoors, they’re exposed to various weather conditions, whereas inside greenhouses they often have to deal with hot temperatures and high humidity! 

Current Trends

Flower, plant, and tree sales tend to go up when the housing market is healthy, however, that market is currently somewhat rocky due to high prices and interest rates. Despite this, the nursery and garden stores industry is doing well in 2023, valued at an estimated $42.5 billion. So just imagine—once the housing market stabilizes, the nursery industry may skyrocket even higher than it already is! 

As trends in environmentalism grow, a range of gardeners seek to build habitats to attract particular birds, butterflies, and even insects! Meanwhile, many consumers are investing in “instant garden” projects. This adds extra labor (and thus more jobs) for nurseries that grow the plants up to a certain point, so buyers can save time. Another trend is the increasing pressure to find ways to conserve water through “water-wise gardens” and “drought-tolerant” plants.

What kinds of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were younger…

Nursery Technicians may have always had a “green thumb,” loving to work outdoors growing their own gardens or tending to a variety of indoor houseplants. They may have felt in tune with nature, enjoying the relaxation that has been proven to come from working with plants. Because of the rules and routines involved with taking care of nursery seeds, plants, shrubs, and trees, technicians may have also been very orderly when growing up.

Education and Training Needed
  • Nursery Technicians don’t need a college degree. Most start their careers with some practical related work experience and a high school degree or GED
  • Taking a few relevant gardening college courses or getting a certificate or an associate’s degree in agriculture or horticulture may be beneficial
  • Wild Abundance offers an online gardening school featuring “foundational concepts” and “step-by-step guidance on growing over 25 veggies, herbs, and berries”
  • Some workers earn a bachelor’s in agriculture, horticulture, or nurseries and greenhouses. This may help graduates qualify for advanced roles such as Senior Nursery Technician
    • Students may also have internship opportunities to gain hands-on practical experience in plant health, pest management, general production principles, and more! 
  • Nursery Technicians can expect to receive On-the-Job training on local policies, as well as state or federal training for safety 
  • Certain controlled plants require workers to be at least 21 years of age 
  • Individual states may have various requirements, including completed certifications, to work with certain plant types
  • There are also state-specific optional certifications, such as:
Things to look for in an University
  • A college degree isn’t required for this career field, but associate’s degree-level courses can help qualify you
  • Look for programs where you can gain practical experience working with plants and soil
  • Consider the cost of tuition, discounts, and local scholarship opportunities (in addition to federal aid)
  • Think about your schedule and flexibility, when deciding whether to enroll in an on-campus, online, or hybrid program. In-person programs may be more beneficial unless you can practice at home 
Things to do in High School and College
  • Nursery Technicians should have a basic understanding of botany and chemistry
  • If your school features a gardening or agricultural program, sign up! If not, look for volunteer or part-time work opportunities in your area to get your hands in the dirt
  • If attending a college program, look for internship opportunities!
  • Read articles and blogs, watch YouTube videos, and get some hands-on practice with your own plants and gardens at home
    • If you can’t afford a lot of houseplants or don’t have space for a garden, look for free or affordable community plots where you can plant seeds and tend to your flowers, vegetables, and fruits
  • Try to learn about as many plant types as you can, but also decide if there is a particular plant (or tree) you want to specialize in
  • Learn about the different soil, sod, fertilizer, amendments, and pesticides
  • Learn which plants thrive in which regions, climates, and conditions, and how seasons affect their growth
  • Draft up a working resume to keep track of your work and academic accomplishments
Typical Roadmap
Nursery Technician Roadmap
How to Land your 1st job
  • Look for postings on popular job portals such as
  • Check out local jobs on Craigslist. Many smaller employers use Craigslist instead of paying to post on bigger sites
  • Attend job fairs where suitable employers might have booths set up. Take copies of your resume with you and dress sharply! Many recruiters attend these events ready to do interviews on the spot
  • If you take college classes, talk to your career center or program manager for help locating jobs
    • Many schools also help students with resume and interview preparation 
  • Visit local nurseries and get to know the staff. Ask questions about how they got started
  • Let your personal network know you’re looking. Most jobs these days are actually found through connections! 
  • Think about who you want to list as your personal references, and ask them for permission to share their contact info
How to Climb the Ladder
  • If you don’t have a college degree, consider taking classes and earning a certificate, associate’s, or bachelor’s
  • Ask your employer if there are any particular specialized certifications that could benefit the company. If so, let them know you are willing to do the training and ask if they can offer tuition assistance 
  • Show up to work on time and take good care of the plants under your care
  • Pay close attention to what duties you’re asked to perform, keep track of any data you must collect, and closely monitor plants for signs of disease, pests, or malnourishment 
  • Work well with others and train new employees to a high standard
  • Always practice good safety procedures and wear proper protective gear
  • Think like a manager and learn the “behind-the-scenes” processes. Let your supervisor know you are happy to fill in for them when they are away
  • Stay up to date on trends, regulations, and new technologies 
Plan B

Nursery Technicians work in just one of many interesting fields related to horticulture and agriculture. For those who might want to explore other options, check out the below list of related careers! 

  • Agricultural and Food Science Technician
  • Agronomist
  • Ecologist
  • Environmental Scientist
  • Farmer or Rancher
  • Grounds Maintenance Worker
  • Horticulturist
  • Landscaper
  • Naturalist
  • Pesticide Handler
  • Plant Biologist
  • Soil Scientist
  • Vineyard Manager


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