A career in grounds maintenance can include lawn care, landscaping, tree trimming, outdoor pest control and more. Schools, private companies and government properties all need to be maintained, and job growth in this field (get it– "growth in this field"?) is growing like a lawn in summertime– so fast that employers can barely keep up!
It's not all sunshine and daffodils; grounds maintenance workers, landscapers and tree trimmers have higher-than-average on the job injury rates and work in all sorts of weather conditions. But if the idea of scorching sun and drenching rain is more appealing than being cooped up inside all day, you'll probably enjoy the work. (And as an added bonus, on days when the weather is perfect you can watch commuters turn green with envy as you work in the fresh air.)
Though there is a small segment of the grounds maintenance industry focused indoors (hey– someone has to water those trees in the mall food court), expect job opportunities to match up with prime planting, growing and clean-up seasons in your area. Most grounds maintenance jobs go dormant for winter, but we'd bet most people aren't itching to work outside in the bitter cold anyway. Speaking of itching: before you get started stock up on bug spray and learn to identify poison ivy; you'll thank us later.
How much do grounds maintenance workers make?
- $7 to $24 per hour
- $23,890 average salary for full-time positions
Job Skills & Requirements
- Education: Newly hired workers receive on-the-job training; supervisors usually need a high school diploma. If you want to apply pesticides, most states require a special license.
- Physical strength: You'll be lifting equipment, moving plants, digging holes and generally getting a workout all day.
- Endurance: Be prepared to work for a full day in the sun, the rain or whatever else Mother Nature can throw at you.
Grounds maintenance companies typically operate during regular business hours (between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.), but shifts may be extended during the busy summer season.
Dress the Part
Come to work prepared for cold, heat and everything in between. Even if you have a uniform, dress in layers with a t-shirt, long sleeve shirt and a jacket or coat if it's cold outside. A brimmed hat can be useful for keeping the sun or rain out of your eyes, and don't forget to accessorize with sunscreen, sunglasses and bug spray.
“I mowed lawns after school, I can do this!”
Maybe you can, but do keep in mind there is a big difference between mowing your neighbor's lawn once a week and being a professional grounds maintenance worker. You will be using chainsaws, weed-whackers, industrial riding mowers and other dangerous equipment that's traditionally used for both lawn care and zombie outbreaks. This is not a job for the accident-prone, faint-of-heart or those with severe poison ivy allergies. To succeed at (and enjoy) grounds maintenance, you need to observe safety procedures, plan ahead for the weather each day and have the stamina to tough out both bad weather and physically demanding work.
- Tree trimmer (Averages $30,000/year)
- Greenskeeper (Averages $27,500/year)
See all job descriptions