Landscape Operations Manager: Job Description and Requirements
Landscape operations managers direct the installation and maintenance of landscape projects for residential, commercial, and public facilities. While the minimum educational requirement is a high-school diploma, most landscape operations managers have additional education or years of experience working in landscaping.
Job Description for a Landscape Operations Manager
Landscape operations managers oversee both the landscape project plan and the workers who implement it. Job responsibilities include meeting with clients (or management) to develop or refine plans for the project, which may include ornamental plants, ground cover, and landscaping structures (e.g., walkways, water, and lighting). Some operations managers with landscape design experience may create the design, as well. Other job duties include estimating costs and negotiating prices for plants, equipment, and employees.
Landscape operations managers supervise the workers who install and maintain landscaping. This may involve scheduling work crews, planning daily work activities, and monitoring the work being done. Landscape managers may also be responsible for training workers, especially on safety procedures when large equipment or hazardous materials are involved.
Some landscape operations managers work for large organizations and oversee all aspects of their landscaping. Others work for landscaping companies and direct projects for the company's clients. Yet others run their own businesses, contracting with individuals and organizations to install or maintain specific landscaping projects for them. Usually these business owners are called landscaping contractors.
Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't report salary information specifically for landscape operations managers, its May 2013 figures show that first-line supervisors of landscaping workers earned mean annual wages of $45,560 (www.bls.gov). Those lucky enough to be employed by the federal government made the most money in 2013, averaging $63,770 a year. States requiring year-round care for landscaping, such as California, Florida, and Texas, often employ high numbers of such supervisors.
Requirements for Landscape Operations Managers
At least a high-school diploma is required for landscape managers, though employers may require a bachelor's degree in horticulture or a related field. Many colleges with horticulture programs also offer specializations in landscape management that teach students about both the plant and management aspects of this job. Courses may cover soil science, weed management, and landscape design. Some colleges offer two-year associate's degrees in landscape management, as well.
Many states require self-employed landscape contractors to be licensed. States also mandate certification or licensing for hazardous work, such as pesticide application. Requirements differ by state, but generally include completing a state examination. After earning a license, landscape operations managers may need to complete continuing education in order to maintain their licenses.
Several professional landscapers' associations offer continuing education and certification programs that allow landscapers to earn professional certificates in different areas of landscape management, from turf maintenance to grounds management. Certification from such organizations as the Professional Landcare Network may improve aspiring landscape managers' chances of being hired and promoted (www.landcarenetwork.org). Self-employed landscaping contractors use these certifications to attract customers and assure them about work quality. Becoming certified typically involves successfully completing the accrediting organization's qualifying examination.
Experience is the other key requirement for becoming a landscape operations manager. Employers usually require several years' work in landscaping, including experience supervising work crews. Landscape managers must be well-versed in the life cycles and health issues of the plants, as well as competent in the use of equipment and tools, which may range from large earth-moving machines to hand tools.
Aspiring landscape managers may gain experience by working for private landscaping companies or for grounds-maintenance departments of large facilities. Many college programs in landscape management have internship programs that allow students to gain experience in the field while finishing their coursework.
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