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My Job - Landscaper & Designer - Karl Carolan

Real-life Industry Profiles for Careers in the Horticulture & Environmental Sectors

Career Title?

Landscaper & Designer

Current Employer or Self Employed?

I am self employed.

How and why did you choose this career?

I have always had a strong interest in the natural world and wanted to know from early on what the names of the plants and trees which were around me were. It developed by chance or fate with a job as an assistant gardener in what's was Mosney holiday centre many moons ago. From there i decided to get some formal education and joined a FAS course in what was the Kinseally Research Centre which set me on my current path.

What is a typical "Day in Your Work Life" like?

Visiting new clients and viewing and discussing their gardens and, overseeing the progress of new projects and bringing new ideas to fruition

What are the most and least rewarding aspects of your job?

Seeing the transformation that can be made to a garden with come careful thought and use of design skills on a variety of budgets as well as being your own boss are the most rewarding aspects. The least rewarding aspects would be when work is slow and the bills still need to be paid!

What are the working conditions like (Stress, Pace, Physical Comfort, Travel, Environment, Hours, Routine vs Crisis, etc.)?

Well there is a certain amount of stress involved with running your own business as finding new work for yourself and employees you may have. The pace of the job requires that it is generally completed on time and to a fixed budget. Landscaping is a physical job and requires you to be fit while the work and particularly working in damp environments can be hard on the joints. Though working outside in general and on sunny days in particular does have its rewards. I have a small transit van and a trailer which works very well for me. Working outside on different jobs in different places keeps the work challenging and fresh. Hours can be long as evening times can involve working on estimates and designs often at weekends when some clients may only be free.

What education requirements, college degrees, licenses are needed for your career?

Having a solid background in horticulture is essential for choosing the right plants for a particular situation with good a design background and flair is most important. Also a strong background in building skills is essential if you're going to do the work yourself or if employing contractors or to do the work for you it is a big advantage. Gaining recognised qualifications in these fields will help a lot. Garden designer & Landscape contractor

What Colleges do you recommend for pursuing an education leading to this occupation?

The National botanic Gardens in conjunction with Blancharsdtown run good part time, and full time diploma and degree courseshttp://www.itb.ie/StudyatITB/horticulture.html. While also there are numerous home correspondence courses such as The Garden design academy of Ireland I work with http://www.gardendesignacademy.ie though there are also some very good courses run by FAS.ie

What are the most important skills and abilities required (Creativity, Emotional Distancing, Emotional Involvement, Language/Communication, Manual Dexterity, Leadership, Physical Ability, Persistence, Social Skills, Time Management, Logic/Reasoning, Negotiation, etc.)?

Being self employed means having the skills to run your own business with efficiency such as: book keeping skills, the ability to work to a fixed budget which requires good time management skills and the ability to be self driven and reliant, good design skills and practical knowledge ,salesmanship, managerial skills such as leadership, project and man management skills are very important too. People skills and good communication skills are also very important when working with clients and getting your ideas and experience across sometime when clients have ideas that may conflict with your own and compromises may have to be met to suit their budget or tastes.

What Secondary School and College courses have you found to be most applicable/important for your occupation?

Building study classes such as technical drawing, woodworking etc

Would you choose this career if you could make the decision again and what (if anything) would you do differently?

I am happy that i have chosen this path and the life it has brought me though doing things differently i would like to have completed more construction and business management courses earlier on.

What do you wish you knew (but didn't) when you first contemplated this career?

That finding work would be so competitive and tireless!

What are the best opportunities for someone entering into your career?

The best opportunities for someone thinking of entering this field would be to try and gain some practical experience first and then to get third level or other qualifications in their desired field.

Are there any trends (e.g. demographic, social, legal) that concern you or any trends that will make this career choice more or less attractive in the future?

The main thing that effects this business is the economy and the general knock on effects this can have. One effect would be the amount of disposable income people have and on the vision or desire they have to change and maximize the potential of their properties. Garden design and makeover programmes on TV and in the media in general can have a very positive impact on this though.

What is the Outlook for this career? Is there a shortage or oversupply of people in this career today?

The outlook is relatively positive though there are a lot of landscapers out their competing for the same work though with a lot of trades the black economy and "nixer" groups can have an effect. Though I feel these so called landscape and garden designers will come and go the efficient and truly driven ones will find their niche in the market. At the end of the day you will get what you pay for and the difference between employing a qualified professional over an amateur or handy person is evident in the results.

Does your career provide the opportunity to balance time between work and family?

Not always as weekends can be broken up with work.

How much money does this career provide at the entry level? After you work for 10 yrs.?

At entry level a general worker may start off at minimum or above minimum wage. After 10 yrs wages will depend on experience and progress through a company or movement into the self employed. Perhaps 20 - 50,000 Euros or more per year depending on the success of the individual or company position.

What are some related careers that people should consider?

Nursery work, general Horticulture, working in Rehabilitation and disability groups, The public service such as parks department. Landscape Architecture, Floristry, Third level or other tutoring & lecturing.

Any Final "words of advice"?

'A weed is only a plant in the wrong place ' & 'Live long and propagate',

Where can I find more information about your career (i.e., Associations, on-line)?

See links provided:

Karl Carolan - Owner of GreenArt Landscapes since 2005 providing affordable landscape and garden solutions to residential and commercial clients throughout Meath/Louth and Dublin. Among the services we provide are Garden design,construction and maintenance.Driveways paved,gravelled.Decking,pergolas,patios and paving of all types .Side gates supplied and fitted. Garden drainage.

Fully qualified service, Bsc Landscape Hort U.C.D.
Dip amenity Hort National Botanic Gardens.
Free quotes Louth Meath Dublin areas covered
Mob 086 8306222 Tel 041 9816039