Grounds Managers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

High school students interested in this career should take classes in English, mathematics, chemistry, biology, and as many courses as possible in horticulture and botany. Business and computer science classes are also beneficial for the administrative duties involved in grounds management work.

Postsecondary Training

An associate's degree is usually the minimum requirement for grounds management work, although a bachelor's degree may be preferred by some employers. Enroll in a two- or four-year program in horticulture, landscape management, or agronomy. Classes might include landscape maintenance and design, turf grass management, botany, and plant pathology. Course work should be selected with an area of specialization in mind. Also be sure to take courses in personnel management, communications, and business-related courses such as accounting and economics.

Many trade and vocational schools offer landscaping, horticulture, and related programs. Several extension programs are also available that allow students to take courses at home.

The minimal educational requirement to become a forester is a bachelor's degree in forestry; however, some foresters combine three years of liberal arts education with two years of professional education in forestry and receive the degrees of bachelor of arts and master of forestry. Though not required, golf course superintendents typically hold a bachelor's degree in a field related to agronomy or horticulture, or a degree from an intensive, two-year turfgrass management program.

Other Education or Training

Keeping up with industry developments is key to success in this field. Professional associations often provide continuing education (CE) opportunities. For example, the Professional Grounds Management Society offers seminars and workshops at its School of Grounds Management & GIE+EXPO and at regional and local events. The National Association of Landscape Professionals, Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, Sports Turf Managers Association, and other organizations at the national, state, and local levels also provide CE classes, webinars, and workshops. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Licensing and certification differ by state and vary according to specific job responsibilities. For example, in most states grounds managers need a certificate to spray insecticides or other chemicals.

Several professional associations offer certification programs for workers in the field. The National Association of Landscape Professionals offers various certification designations, including business manager, exterior technician, and lawn care manager, among others. Depending on the certification, applicants must pass a multiple-choice examination or a hands-on field test. The Professional Grounds Management Society offers the certified grounds manager designation. Grounds managers who specialize in the care of golf courses and sports fields can receive certification from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) or the Sports Turf Managers Association. The International Society of Arboriculture also provides certification.

Self-employed grounds managers may also need a license to operate their businesses.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Any previous experience working for grounds management businesses that plan and manage the grounds of institutions and companies will be useful for aspiring grounds managers. 

Aspiring grounds managers should have good organizational skills as well as an interest in preserving and maintaining natural areas. They should also be reasonably physically fit and be able to work in all weather conditions to oversee grounds workers.

All managerial personnel must carefully supervise their workers to ensure that they adhere to environmental regulations as specified by the Environmental Protection Agency and other local and national government agencies.