Horticultural consultant: job description

Horticultural consultants are specialist advisers who identify and assess horticultural problems and provide appropriate technical or business advice to commercial and public sector clients.

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There are opportunities for overseas work, although many vacancies are temporary and substantial consultancy experience is often necessary.

What does a horticultural consultant do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Horticultural consultants are responsible for maintaining a careful balance of flora and fauna under constantly changing conditions. Key tasks include:

  • developing and maintaining a set of client contacts
  • visiting clients on site
  • undertaking environmental assessments
  • analysing horticultural yields
  • designing garden plans/planting layouts
  • advising about tree planting schemes
  • planning restoration projects
  • organising horticultural trials
  • making presentations
  • writing technical publications, advisory leaflets and reports
  • attending conferences
  • maintaining an awareness of industry developments
  • undertaking research
  • maintaining financial and administrative records
  • developing, advertising and marketing services.

Variations in workloads relate to seasonal demands – some long and unsocial hours may be necessary during busy periods. Opportunities for promotion into senior consultancy positions are limited – relocation or specialisation is normally required. Many horticultural consultants work on a freelance basis, after many years of experience in other horticultural roles.

Typical employers of horticultural consultants

  • Specialist horticultural consultancies
  • Local authorities
  • Wildlife or heritage trusts
  • Commercial food processing companies
  • Packaging and distribution companies
  • Horticultural, agricultural or environmental associations

A large number of horticultural consultants are self-employed.

Jobs are advertised by careers services, in local/national newspapers and publications including Opportunities , Horticulture Week , New Scientist , Nature , Farmers Weekly and their online equivalents. Speculative applications are advisable as many posts receive little advertising. Trade directories such as the British Institute of Agricultural Consultants (BIAC) Directory may provide useful contact information.

Qualifications and training required

A degree or higher national diploma (HND) in horticulture, agriculture, soil or earth sciences, environmental science, agricultural engineering or crop/plant science is normally the minimum academic requirement for entry into the profession. A relevant postgraduate qualification may be necessary for some opportunities. Read our article on scientific postgraduate study to explore your different options.

Prior practical work experience is usually essential as vacancies attract strong competition. A full driving licence is also normally required.

Key skills for horticultural consultants

  • Initiative
  • Commercial awareness
  • Problem solving skills
  • Communication
  • Analytical skills
  • Sales skills
  • Organisation and project management skills
  • Substantial knowledge of horticultural issues

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