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Grounds Maintenance Worker Job Description, Career as a Grounds Maintenance Worker, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training On-the-job training; high school diploma helpful

Salary Varies; median range from $9 – $14 an hour

Employment Outlook Very good

Grounds maintenance workers provide landscape and lawn services for private households, commercial and public facilities, like schools, hotels, botanical gardens, as well as golf courses, parks, athletic fields, and more. Their goal is to provide clients with an attractive, well-maintained lawn and/or garden to create a welcoming impression and to increase property values.

Grounds maintenance workers utilize many kinds of equipment to achieve the best services. They may use rakes, shovels, pruning and handsaws, axes, as well as chain saws, power lawnmowers, and snow blowers. They perform many duties and need a variety of tools and equipment to get the job done accurately and efficiently.

Since grounds maintenance workers usually work on their own, it is vital they be self-motivated, hard-working and dependable. They should take pride in their work, be in good physical health and enjoy working outdoors in all kinds of weather.

Education and Training Requirements

There is no required education for grounds maintenance workers, however, a high school diploma is helpful. Short-term on-the-job training is provided by the employer and consists of learning to operate and repair equipment, as well as planting and maintenance techniques.

Some larger employers, such as municipalities and golf courses, may require on-the-job training in addition to some coursework in subjects like horticulture. Those interested in owning their own business or becoming specialists, may need a bachelor’s degree.

Most states require grounds maintenance workers who apply pesticides to be certified or licensed. Requirements vary by state, however, it usually involves passing an exam on proper use and disposal of insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides. In addition, there are some states that require licensing for landscape contractors.

Getting the Job

Prospective candidates should apply directly to the employer, check local newspaper ads for job postings or check the many Internet resources that seek grounds maintenance workers.

Candidates should be responsible, self-motivated and be willing to take on physically demanding tasks. They should have good customer service skills, especially if dealing with others, and have a driver’s license as well as a good driving record. It is also helpful to have experience driving a truck.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

The job opportunities for grounds maintenance workers are expected to rise quite substantially in the next several years due to an increase in construction, which includes new business complexes, shopping malls, and residential housing, as well as parks and highways. The need for grounds maintenance workers will continue to grow also due to two-income households who require assistance keeping up their lawns, as well as the older population requiring help with their yards. Larger institutions, like schools, universities, and hospitals will also need assistance in keeping up the landscape surrounding their buildings. In addition, the need to replace grounds maintenance workers who leave the occupation will affect the job growth.

Areas in which grounds maintenance work is non-seasonal, such as Florida where lawn service is needed all year, can expect the greatest job opportunities. However, local economic conditions may hinder job opportunities nationwide.

Grounds maintenance workers who are hard-working, work efficiently and possess strong communication skills may advance into leadership roles, such as a crew leader or supervisor.Others can become grounds managers or landscape contractors after acquiring a formal education and more experience. With experience, others can also start their own grounds maintenance business.

In addition, grounds managers, with a degree or 8 years of work experience, may receive certification from the Professional Grounds Management Society by passing a test which covers a variety of grounds management subjects. Other certifications are also available for landscaping and grounds maintenance workers.

Working Conditions

Grounds maintenance workers spend their work day outdoors in all kinds of weather, usually in the spring, summer and fall months of the year. However, depending on the geographic location and the climate, some work throughout the year. Stress can be a factor for grounds maintenance workers if there is a deadline to complete a project. The duties are physically demanding as well as repetitive and may involve constant bending, lifting, and shoveling.

They must take precautions when using pesticides and fertilizers and also when operating dangerous equipment, such as power clippers, lawnmowers, and chain saws. Grounds maintenance workers also need to protect their hearing when operating motorized equipment.

Where to Go for More Information

Tree Care Industry Association
3 Perimeter Rd., Unit I
Manchester, NH 03103-3341

International Society of Arboriculture
P.O. Box 3129
Champaign, IL 61826-3129

Professional Grounds Management Society
720 Light St.
Baltimore, MD 21230-3816

Professional Landcare Network
950 Herndon Pwky., Ste. 450
Herndon, VA 20170-5528

For information on how to become a licensed pesticide applicator, contact the State Department of Agriculture, the Department of Environmental Protection or the Conservation in your area.

Earnings and Benefits

Salaries vary depending on the type of grounds maintenance work and the employer. For instance, supervisors and managers of landscaping in May 2006 earned up to $18 an hour. Other positions, such as tree trimmers, pesticide sprayers, and landscape workers made an average of $10-$13 per hour. Those who work for local governments, landscaping services, or recreation industries earned $9-$12 per hour in 2006.

Benefits vary depending on the employer as well as the grounds maintenance worker’s work status.

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