Part of our Technicians make it happen series – this first article looks at what it is like to have a career as a horticultural technician.
Technicians come is all shapes. Working in industries such as the transport industry, telecommunications, aerospace, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, games development and, as you are about to see, in horticulture, technicians are a vital part of the UK workforce and the roles that they have are way more exciting than you probably imagine. Technicians really do make it happen.
Allow us to introduce you to Sally. Sally always wanted to work in horticulture and she got started straight after leaving school. Today, in the Cambridge University Botanic Garden, her role involves growing specimens for the University’s experiments.
Sally also curates several plant collections of her own, including varieties of lavender, rosemary and other British wild plants. It helps that she is a walking encyclopaedia of plant knowledge.
What I love most is the variety of plants I cultivate,” she says.
from a glasshouse full of rice and tomatoes to high-alpine cushion-forming plants to unusual succulents, along with interesting requests from around the world. Some varieties have never even been cultivated before”.
Want a job working outdoors?
Sally enjoys working outdoors. And while helping with the research, she can learn more about the cutting edge of plant science from many of its greatest minds. “Sometimes I even take part in projects that change the world”.
How did Sally become a horticultural technician?
Sally left school in 2009 and in 2011 she completed a National Diploma in Horticulture. Whilst studying for her Diploma Sally also worked privately for the National Trust in Northern Ireland.
In 2012, Sally completed a Practical Certificate in Heritage Horticulture and in 2016 she began work as a horticultural technician and the University of Cambridge, Botanic Gardens.
Listen to what Sally has to say about being a horticultural technician in this short video
What does a horticultural technician do?
Horticultural technicians grow and take care of plants in educational, research, corporate and commercial settings.
Horticultural trades workers intensively cultivate vegetables, plants, fruit, shrubs, trees and flowers in greenhouses, market gardens, nurseries and orchards.
Sally Petitt, Head of Horticulture at Cambridge University Botanic Garden explained,
All horticultural staff here at Cambridge University Botanic Garden are employed as technicians. They each have the qualifications, practical and technical skills and knowledge to facilitate research both within and outside the University of Cambridge, while also delivering high standards of horticulture to our 250,000 visitors each year.”
Horticulture career facts
The average annual salary of a horticultural technician is £23,920
Who works as a horticultural technician?
At the moment, 64% of horticultural technicians are female, compared with 36% that are male.
To find out about the trainee technician scheme at Cambridge University Botanic Gardens