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Be a Licensed Florist: Licensure and Certification Information

Learn about certificate programs for the aspiring licensed florist, and check out licensing and certification options. See examples of program coursework along with employment outlook and salary projections for floral designers.

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Essential Information

Although postsecondary training is not usually required to begin a career as a florist, formal education in floral design is available through certificate and associate degree programs at community colleges and technical schools throughout the country. Aspiring florists with only a high school diploma tend to learn the skills of their trade on the job.

Certificate programs provide students with the fundamental knowledge necessary to create appealing floral arrangements for various occasions. Through classwork and hands-on learning experiences, students also learn silk flower design, flower shop management practices, marketing techniques and exotic plant care.

An associate's degree program may cover much of the same material while adding in general education courses. Flower and plant care are emphasized along with horticulture studies. Licensing is usually not required of floral design professionals, but candidates can earn the Certified Floral Designer credential by passing a web-based test.


Certificate in Floral Design

Floral design certificate programs provide students with the basic design skills needed to create balanced and aesthetically pleasing floral compositions. Students learn to properly care for, handle and use seasonal, silk, dry and exotic plants and flowers. Curricula might include instruction in basic floral designs for weddings, solemn events, themed events, holidays and parties. Graduates may be prepared to obtain certification through the American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD). Certificate program admission requirements include documentation of a high school diploma or high school equivalency.

Program Coursework

Program coursework typically provides hands-on practical experience in how to use professional floral equipment, select fresh floral materials and develop design skills. Coursework often includes the following topics:

  • Designing with silk flowers
  • Management of a flower shop
  • Wedding design
  • Floral industry marketing
  • Floral design for special events

Employment and Salary Information

Florists can pursue employment opportunities with small and large floral shops, grocery store floral departments, Internet florists and other floral retailers. However, due to a shrinking demand for floral decorations, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that the number of floral designers would decrease by nine percent during the 2010-2020 decade (www.bls.gov). As of May 2012, the BLS listed the median annual wage for floral designers, or florists, at $23,810.

Licensure and Certification Information

As of 2011, Louisiana was the only U.S. state that required licensure for retail and wholesale florists. However, florists in other states may need to seek small business licensure if they plan to operate their own shops.

Earning voluntary certification as an AIFD Certified Floral Designer (CFD) requires completion of AIFD-approved coursework, an online exam and an on-site design evaluation (www.aifd.org). The online examination covers floral design terminology, design techniques, care of cut flowers and shop management principles. The on-site evaluation requires candidates to design and create five floral arrangements in categories such as sympathy, wedding, wearable flowers and duplication. Certified Floral Designers are required to complete 25 continuing education units every three years in order to renew and maintain their certification.


Associate Degree in Floral Design

A 2-year associate degree program in floral design can prepare students for immediate entry-level florist positions. In addition to basic design techniques, students generally learn to care for cut flowers and potted plants. They're likely to gain practical experience through hands-on assignments in floral arranging. Lessons also might include plant and flower identification and retail sales. Students with a high school diploma or GED can apply for acceptance to these programs.

Program Coursework

Program coursework includes general education courses, in addition to coursework within the major. Common curriculum topics include:

  • Floral design
  • Color theory and design
  • Horticulture
  • Operations of a flower shop
  • Seasonal flowers
  • Ornamental plants

Popular Career Options

Employment opportunities are available in many floral industry settings, including event and party planning agencies, retail flower shops, growers and wholesale suppliers. Possible careers include:

  • Floral shop salesperson
  • Floral designer
  • Shop owner
  • Wedding consultant
  • Display artist
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