Nursery Owners and Managers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

A high school diploma is important in order to understand the basics of business ownership and management, and further study of horticulture in a community college will give you an advantage in a tight market, though there are no specific educational or experiential requirements for this position. Course work in business administration is helpful, as is previous experience in the retail trade. Hard work, constant analysis and evaluation, and sufficient capital are important elements of a successful business venture.

If you are interested in owning or managing a business, you should take courses in mathematics, business management, and in business-related subjects, such as accounting, typing, and computer science. In addition, pursue English and other courses that enhance your communication skills. Specific skill areas also should be developed. For example, if you want to own or manage a nursery, you should learn as much about horticulture as possible.

Owners of small retail businesses often manage the store and work behind the counter. In such a case, the owner of a nursery may wear many hats, acting as the horticultural technician, laborer, and landscape designer, as well.

Postsecondary Training

As the business environment gets more and more competitive, many people are opting for an academic degree as a way of getting more training. A bachelor's program emphasizing business communications, marketing, business law, business management, and accounting should be pursued. Some people choose to get a master's in business administration or other related graduate degree. There are also special business schools that offer one- or two-year programs in business management. Some correspondence schools also offer courses on how to plan and run a business. If you are interested in owning or managing a nursery or garden center, it is important that you take courses or earn a degree in horticulture or a related field.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

A business license may be required by some states. Individual states or communities may have zoning codes or other regulations specifying what type of business can be located in a particular area. Check with your state's chamber of commerce or department of revenue for more information on obtaining a license.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Depending on the size and complexity of the nursery, owners and managers need experience in some or all of the following areas: the agriculture of plants, especially fruits, flowers and landscaping plants, and turf; business and accounting skills, including use of computers; agricultural economics, to determine the best methods for achieving maximum production; machinery and grounds maintenance. This experience can be gained through  mentoring from a more experienced manager, course work at a local community college, government sponsored programs to encourage farm education for those who were not raised on a family farm, and lower-level positions in a nursery.

Skills required for an agricultural manager include precision and accuracy in monitoring and assessing the quality of their products; critical-thinking skills such as reasoning and judgment to enable managers to improve their harvest and take account of weather conditions; interpersonal skills to ensure effective communication between managers and their workers; and mechanical skills necessary to operate and repair machines used in agriculture. Perhaps the most important personality traits for the successful agricultual manager are a love of the outdoors and the plantings that can enhance our appreciation of nature; a capacity for hard work in the face of all kinds of weather; and the ability to take the initiative in fostering the growth and protection of plants.

Whatever their experience and training, a nursery owner needs a lot of energy, patience, and fortitude to overcome the slow times and other difficulties involved in running a business. Other important personal characteristics include maturity, creativity, and good business judgment. Nursery owners also should be able to motivate employees and delegate authority.

To be a successful nursery manager, you should have good communication skills, enjoy working with and supervising people, and be willing to put in very long hours. Diplomacy often is necessary when creating schedules for workers and in disciplinary matters. There is a great deal of responsibility in retail management and such positions often are stressful. A calm disposition and ability to handle stress will serve you well. You should also be in good physical shape since you will occasionally help your employees lift or rearrange plants, trees, gardening tools, and other products.