Job Prospects: Good
Compensation: The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that median annual earnings for florists were $20,450 in 2004, with more than half earning between $16,670 and $25,610.
Job Market Update: Employment opportunities are expected to be good, since the field experiences a high rate of turnover. Numerous help-wanted ads can be found in publications and online for both experienced and novice staff. Note: One out of three florists operates their own shop. The demand for florists will continue to grow as flower sales increase due to an expanding population. The growing number of lavish weddings and other special events also bodes well for the industry.
Job Duties: Most florists work in small independent floral shops specializing in custom orders as well as large orders for weddings, caterers or interior designers. The work requires an eye for design, as florists arrange live, dried or silk flowers into attractive displays. Florists also meet with customers to discuss their specific needs. Sometimes they deliver and set up displays at special events (weddings, banquets, funerals). Some florists work in the floral department of grocery stores, which typically create pre-arranged displays for retail sale. Others work for wholesale flower distributors, who market their product to retail shops. (Note: The wholesale flower business is not expected to grow, as more florists begin to deal directly with growers.)
Working Conditions: Florists usually work in comfortable, well-lit spaces in retail outlets or at home. Some outdoor work might be required. Florists also may frequently make short trips delivering flowers, setting up arrangements for special events and acquiring flowers and other supplies. While creating beautiful displays can be very rewarding, the work can be stressful – especially when dealing with a holiday rush (like Valentine’s Day) or when producing a last-minute display for a funeral. In addition, since flowers are perishable, the work cannot be done too far in advance. That results in occasional long hours and weekend work. Other factors to consider: People prone to allergies might have difficulty working around the large variety of plants and flowers. Also, if you cannot lift objects up to 30 pounds, your employability is limited.
Training Requirements: Many florists learn their skills on the job. Typically, they break into the field by taking a job as a cashier or delivery person. Private floral schools, vocational schools and community colleges do award certificates in floral design. The programs last from a few weeks up to one year. Since advancement is limited in the profession, many florists open their own shops after gaining a few years of experience. For that reason, courses in business, accounting, marketing and computer technology can be helpful. Since the Internet has greatly affected the business, developing an effective Internet marketing strategy is also important.
Related Occupations: Landscape architects create designs incorporating plants and flowers into existing terrain. Other occupations to consider include soil and plant scientists, farm workers, and nursery and greenhouse staff.
For more information on florist careers, visit these websites:
Career-Diplomas.com – Website of the Penn Foster Career School. Select floral design, and learn how you can acquire the knowledge to become a professional while studying from home.
MasterFloristsAssn.org – An industry trade group based in Northern California. Can help you stay abreast of trends in the region while developing networking contacts.
SAFnow.org – Home site of the Society of American Florists, a nationwide trade group that provides online training and resources for independent florists.