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Y is for Yardkeeper

by Chet Bodin
March 2017

Yardkeeper is a general term for many landscaping, grounds keeping, and other outdoor maintenance occupations that require a variety of skill and education levels. Yardkeepers can also be found working for a variety of industries and employers, from golf courses to private households. In Minnesota the workers most associated with yardkeepers are known as “Landscaping and Groundskeeping Workers”. According to DEED Occupational and Employment Statistics for 2016 (OES) Minnesota had almost 15,000 Landscaping and Groundskeeping Workers, who earned a median wage of $12.53 per hour. This was almost 40¢ an hour more than the median wage for Landscaping and Groundskeeping Workers throughout the United States, which was $12.15 per hour in 2016 (see Table 1).

 

Table 1. 2016 Employment and Wages by Planning Region: Landscaping and Groundskeeping Workers

Area

2016
Employment

25th
Percentile Hourly Wage

Median Hourly Wage

75th
Percentile Hourly Wage

25th
Percentile
Annual Wage

Annual
Median Wage

75th
Percentile
Annual Wage

U. S.

895,600

$10.11

$12.15

$15.23

$21,025

$25,277

$31,680

Minnesota

14,900

$10.18

$12.53

$16.68

$21,177

$26,065

$34,709

Central MN

1,440

$10.23

$11.98

$14.31

$21,289

$24,914

$29,771

Northeast MN

760

$9.45

$12.08

$15.84

$19,663

$25,130

$32,952

Northwest MN

1,530

$9.54

$11.10

$14.40

$19,850

$23,090

$29,961

Southeast MN

770

$10.20

$12.39

$17.16

$21,208

$25,778

$35,697

Southwest MN

950

$9.04

$10.68

$13.65

$18,810

$22,220

$28,394

7-County Metro, MN

8,290

$10.72

$13.67

$17.96

$22,315

$28,447

$37,341

Source: DEED Occupational Employment Statistics, 2016

 

However, many other occupations could also be considered in the “Yardkeeper” category, and it takes different levels of education and training to perform them. For example, a landscaper who would like to become a manager or supervisor would benefit from obtaining a high school education when performing duties such as preparing estimates or reviewing contracts. And, not only would their responsibilities increase, but the median hourly wage of first-line supervisors of landscapers is over $9.00 per hour more than landscapers in general.

Several education programs throughout Minnesota help yard/landscapers obtain training. These programs range from one year postsecondary certificates to Master’s degrees. For workers new to yardkeeping and landscaping, an Associate’s Degree may be the best track to employment. According to DEED’s Graduate Employment Outcomes, nearly 80 percent of Associate’s Degree graduates from “applied horticulture” programs were employed two years after graduating and earning close to $14.00 an hour. In addition, some postsecondary programs in Minnesota help yard/landscaping workers find a specialty, such as greenhouse or golf course operations.

Besides education, professional accreditation also helps landscapers develop their skillset and improve their wages. Beyond the occupations listed by the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) and defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, yardkeeping and landscaping work often becomes more specialized. Skilled landscapers can become professionally certified in fields such as arboriculture and irrigation. In addition, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) requires a landscape specialist license to “perform or supervise plant installation and establishment work” with or for MnDOT (see Table 3).

For those with a high school diploma, some certificates will even help landscapers move into management. Given that there are over 400 openings for supervisors and managers in landscaping, the depth of these certification opportunities is encouraging for anyone looking to make landscaping a career.

Table 2. “Yardkeeping” related Occupations by Education and Projected Growth 2014-2024, Minnesota

SOC

Occupation Title

2014
Employment

Education
Required

Median
Hourly Wage

Projected
Growth
2014-2024

Total
Openings
2014-2024

373011

Landscaping and Groundskeeping Workers

18,110

Less than High School

$12.53

770

4,030

371012

First-Line Supervisors/ Managers of Landscaping, Lawn Service, and Groundskeeping Workers

2,030

High School diploma or equivalent

$21.71

71

410

373013

Tree Trimmers and Pruners

1,210

High School diploma or equivalent

$18.62

41

260

171012

Landscape Architects

627

Bachelor’s Degree

$27.22

19

120

Source: DEED Career and Education Explorer, 2016

 

Table 3. Yardkeeping-related Professional Certifications

Certification Name

Certifying Organization

Arborist / Municipal Specialist

International Society of Arboriculture

Certified Arborist

International Society of Arboriculture

Certified Arborist/Utility Specialist

International Society of Arboriculture

Certified Golf Irrigation Auditor

Irrigation Association

Certified Grounds Manager

Professional Grounds Management Society

Certified Grounds Technician

Professional Grounds Management Society

Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor

Irrigation Association

Certified Master Arborist

International Society of Arboriculture

Certified Tree Worker/Tree Climber Specialist

International Society of Arboriculture

Certified Tree Care Safety Specialist

Tree Care Industry Association

Commercial Fire Sprinkler Inspector

International Code Council

Landscape Industry Certified Horticultural Technician

National Association of Landscape Professionals

Landscape Industry Certified Lawn Care Technician

National Association of Landscape Professionals

Landscape Industry Certified Lawn Care Technician-National

National Association of Landscape Professionals

Landscape Industry Certified Manager

National Association of Landscape Professionals

Landscape Industry Certified Technician - Exterior

National Association of Landscape Professionals

Water-Based Systems Layout - I

National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies

Water-Based Systems Layout - II

National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies

Water-Based Systems Layout - III

National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies

Water-Based Systems Layout - IV

National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies

License Name

Licensing Organization

MnDOT Landscape Specialist Certification

http://www.dot.state.mn.us

Source: DEED Career and Education Explorer Tool, 2016

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