New salary data shows promise of horticulture careers
Seed Your Future (SYF), in collaboration with the American Floral Endowment (AFE) and North Carolina State University, announced the results of its comprehensive horticultural salary survey. The survey, conducted in Fall 2022, aimed to provide valuable insights into the salaries and benefits offered across various positions within the horticultural industry. AFE has released an additional, condensed version of the report focusing on positions within the floriculture industry.
“We are thrilled to possess data that allows us to compare the salaries and benefits in floriculture with those in broader sectors of agriculture,” said Debi Chedester, CAE, IOM, AAF, executive director of the American Floral Endowment. “Our objective is to share this information in order to attract a wider range of individuals to our industry, encompassing various roles from cultivation to accounting.”
The horticultural industry encompasses a wide range of career paths, making it challenging to determine the average pay for professionals. In an effort to address this, SYF partnered with AFE and North Carolina State University to launch an industry-wide salary survey. The survey collected data on salary and benefits for positions ranging from CEOs to seasonal workers, covering eight horticultural sectors: floriculture/greenhouse, florist, nursery, landscape, public gardens, fruit/vegetables and other edibles, garden center/markets, and horticultural services.
Average production salaries showed significant variation, with fruit/vegetable production seasonal workers earning an average of $30,160, and public garden production managers earning $98,590. Most positions in the horticultural industry boasted salaries exceeding $40,000. Administrative positions, on the other hand, commanded higher pay scales, ranging from $46,740 for public garden merchandisers to over $100,000 for roles such as fruit/vegetable production maintenance managers ($120,580); horticultural services research/development managers ($129,750); and horticultural services sales managers ($132,633). Executive positions were found to be the highest paid.
Salary range variation
While certain positions exhibited relatively lower average salaries, the wide salary range indicated that longevity and experience played a significant role in determining higher pay within those positions. This highlights the potential for career growth and increased earnings in the horticultural industry.
The survey also shed light on the common benefits provided to employees in the horticultural industry. Paid time off, professional development opportunities, and medical insurance were found to be the most prevalent benefits. In addition, companies reported offering dental and vision coverage, life insurance, retirement plans, Employee Stock Ownership Plans, profit sharing, bonuses, short-term/long-term disability coverage, vehicle and phone allowances, purchase discounts, flexible work environments, meals, and wellness days.
The survey revealed an optimistic hiring outlook for the horticultural industry. A majority of the surveyed businesses (51%) expressed plans to increase their hiring, while 43% intended to maintain their current hiring rate. Few businesses indicated plans to decrease hiring.
The comprehensive horticultural salary survey provides valuable insights into the earnings and benefits landscape within the industry. This information will serve as a valuable resource for individuals considering careers in horticulture and for businesses looking to attract and retain talent.
“The future is bright for students interested in horticulture,” said John Dole, interim dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University. “Firms are hiring, and our study shows a broad range of possible salaries and equally important, many different types of positions available in horticulture.”
“The data will also help show students that the horticulture field also offers the opportunity for career growth,” said Jazmin Albarran, MBA, executive director of Seed Your Future.
“This data will help us inform students that administrative positions not only offer higher salaries, but also provide opportunities to combine a passion for plants with other interests, such as business management, marketing, IT, and graphic design — all skills that are needed in the industry.”
Complete survey results
The survey will be conducted every other year to gauge changes and trends. Industry participation is key to ensure the data reflects salaries across the country. The complete Horticultural Salary Survey Report and Floriculture Salary Survey Report are available online.