How to break into landscaping in Ontario

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Industry experts say there is an “extreme” shortage of workers and a wide variety of opportunities for new graduates


With summer fast approaching and more than a year of being locked indoors to fight COVID-19, a career in the outdoors can seem appealing. Depending on the type of job you’re looking for, industry experts say landscaping in Ontario might be the perfect field to pursue.

“There is an extreme labor shortage,” says Richard Zoltek, Landscape Technician Program Coordinator at Humber College. “One hundred percent of our graduates were hired within the last eight years of the program. “

But Zoltek says the program is small, with about 18 graduates per year, while it has about 100 employers looking for new hires each year. He describes the field as a “broad spectrum” and therefore it is the ideal career for students who are passionate about the environment and design, but have yet to find a place to go. “The field is huge, the opportunities are vast and the work you do can be different every day,” he says.

Sean Kelly is director of the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development at the University of Guelph, which includes a bachelor’s or master’s degree in landscape architecture. He saw an increasing demand in the field – but in a slightly different way.

“There is a demand for the education of students looking to enter the field,” he says, noting that the department was accepting about 25 students per year into its undergraduate program in the 1980s, up from 65. that they now accept. . “It has to do with the fact that the students are much more concerned about the environment and aware of the issues there,” he says.

The university is currently the only one in Canada to offer an undergraduate degree in landscape architecture, which Kelly believes may partly explain the high demand, with the program welcoming up to 500 applicants per year.

Why pursue a career in landscaping?

For those interested in the field of landscape architecture, Kelly says that even if you are an expert, you are still considered a “handyman.” The field offers a wide variety of opportunities and different career paths – if you are interested in the more aesthetic side of the job, there are opportunities with large companies to design larger destination areas or campus planning. If the environmental aspect is more your speed, Kelly says the field has broadened to include projects that focus on issues such as stormwater management, hydroelectric corridors and more.

Zoltek echoes a similar theme for landscape technicians. “There is ignorance towards the industry, there is a lack of understanding of what work is,” he says. “It’s actually a very business-driven industry that has endless potential for financial income if you are good, quick, and love what you do.”

He says he met students who fell back on landscaping once they couldn’t enroll in other programs, then quickly realized how much they loved the area. “The unique thing about landscaping is that it grows, changes and has seasons,” he says. “These are all things that are so stimulating and so rewarding, because every time you go back to it it changes and evolves and it becomes a real passion.”

Zoltek also says the estate is a real area of ​​growth, pointing to new areas such as water purification, tranquility gardens for hospitals, horticultural therapy and rooftop gardens. “Landscaping can create a place for contemplation, spiritual growth, and enlightenment, so it’s an expanding field – it’s not something that is confined to certain limits,” he says.

What are the disadvantages ?

The terrain may not be for everyone due to Canada’s four seasons. Zoltek says workers need to be very diverse in how they approach the off-season, either using winter to plan, or taking it as a vacation and working a lot more hours in the other three seasons.

“If you don’t like working more than eight hours a day, don’t go,” he advises. “If you want a nine-to-five job, don’t go. If you don’t like people or nature, don’t go.

Kelly says that for students studying in Guelph with an environmental orientation, starting a job can be a bit of a reality check.

“They can be a little idealistic about the types of projects they want to work on, and then they find out that you have to take on a job that maybe doesn’t quite fit the principles you have,” he says.

How can I continue landscaping in Ontario?

If you’re interested in the practical side of landscaping work, look for landscaping technician or horticulture technician programs at Ontario colleges that will give you the basics and skills needed for a variety of jobs. , including the design, maintenance and construction of landscaping and greenhouse, grounds and garden maintenance. These programs can last from two to four years and may lead to continuing education opportunities. For those interested in landscaping, a bachelor’s or master’s degree in landscape architecture might be a better choice. Salaries for landscape technicians average around $ 40,000 per year, while landscape architects can earn a little more at around $ 60,000 per year, depending on location and employment.

Where to study landscaping

Horticulture / Landscaping

Algonquin College (Ottawa) Horticultural Industries Diploma, $ 2,866.77 per year (fees included). algonquincollege.com

Durham College (Durham) Horticultural technician diploma, $ 3,707.39 per year (fees included). durhamcollege.ca

Fanshawe College (London) Advanced Diploma in Landscape Design, $ 4,974.30 per year (fees included); Horticultural technician diploma, $ 5,214.86 per year (fees included); Bachelor’s degree specializing in environmental design and planning, $ 7,931.46 per year (fees included). fanshawec.ca

Humber College (Toronto) Landscape technician diploma, $ 3,785.14 per year (fees included). humber.ca

Niagara College (Niagara-on-the-Lake) Landscape Horticultural Techniques Certificate, $ 4,191.88 per year (fees included); Horticultural technician diploma, $ 4,191.88 per year (fees included); Greenhouse technician diploma, $ 4,191.88 per year (fees included); Landscape technician diploma, $ 4,191.88 per year (fees included). niagaracollege.ca

Ridgetown College (Guelph) Associate degree in horticulture, $ 4,812 per year (fees included). ridgetownc.com

Seneca College (Toronto) Diploma in Environmental Landscape Management, $ 3,452 per year (fees included). senecacollege.ca

St. Clair College (Windsor) Landscape Horticulture Diploma, $ 4,407.62 per year (fees included). stclaircollege.ca

Landscape architecture

University of Guelph (Guelph) Bachelor of Landscape Architecture, $ 10,251.28 per year; Master in Landscape Architecture, $ 5,853.66 per year (fees included). uoguelph.ca

University of Toronto (Toronto) Master in Landscape Architecture, $ 11,400 per year. utoronto.ca

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@juliajmastro



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