Jobs Working With Hydroponics: Career Options and Requirements
From space to greenhouses, plants can be grown with hydroponics in a variety of environments. Increased yields, larger plants and tighter control are all benefits of hydroponic growth. How does someone get involved in hydroponics? Read on to find out more.
Career Options in Hydroponics
Hydroponics is the science of growing plants without soil. A person who grows plants delivers the water and nutrients directly to the roots of the plant. Because of the lack of soil, a grower using hydroponics has better control over nutrients. When applied correctly, hydroponic growth often leads to greater yields and larger plants.
Many of the people involved in hydroponics are growers. They work in different settings and grow different types of plants, but all professional hydroponics growers earn a living from the yield produced by their plants. Because of the nature of hydroponic growth, most of this work is performed in an enclosed environment, like a greenhouse or laboratory.
While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't have data specific for hydroponic growers, it does provide salary data for farm workers and laborers in greenhouses. These workers earned a median salary of $18,680 as of May 2012. The related group of farmers could expect an eight percent decline in employment opportunities between 2010 and 2020 reported the BLS.
Hydroponic Equipment Salespeople
Those who sell hydroponics equipment to the grower also earn their livings through hydroponics. These salespeople provide growers with growth systems to hold the plants and provide water. They may also deliver nutrient and salt mixes to feed the plants and otherwise care for plant stocks. Some provide light fixtures to small-scale growers who require them.
The BLS found that wholesale sales representatives, a group that includes hydroponic equipment salespeople, could expect 16% employment growth during the 2010-2020 decade. These professionals earned a median salary of $74,970 as of May 2012.
Hydroponic instructors can teach students the technical aspects of hydroponic growth through lectures and hands-on laboratory courses. Because of their specialized knowledge, hydroponics instructors may offer courses to other agricultural educators as well as to students at colleges and universities.
Although the BLS doesn't provide salary or employment outlook data for hydroponic instructors, it does include data for career and technical education teachers. This group was expected to see only one percent growth for those teaching in secondary schools, while those working in middle schools might see nine percent growth. The BLS reported that secondary school career teachers earned $55,160 in median salary while their middle school counterparts earned $54,220.
Requirements for Hydroponics Careers
Both growers and sellers benefit from an education and training in hydroponics. This primarily includes a technical education in horticulture, with foundational courses in chemistry, biology and mathematics. The BLS classifies hydroponic growers as horticultural specialty farmers and suggests an associate's or bachelor's degree as the minimum educational requirement for farmers of all types (www.bls.gov). Many colleges, community colleges and universities offer horticulture, applied horticulture or horticulture operations programs. Every state university system has a least one college or university with an agricultural program.
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