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Occupational Profile

Greenhouse Operator

Greenhouse operators plan, organize and direct the activities of greenhouse staff who propagate, grow and market flowers and other plants or produce.

  • Avg. Salary $61,433.00
  • Avg. Wage $29.34
  • Minimum Education 2 years post-secondary
  • Outlook N/A
Also Known As

Farmer

NOC & Interest Codes
The Greenhouse Operator is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Nursery and Greenhouse Operators and Managers
NOC code: 8254
DIRECTIVE

Interest in supervising staff in planting, transplanting, feeding and spraying stock; and in hiring staff and overseeing training, in setting work schedules and in determining types and quantities of stock

METHODICAL

Interest in co-ordinating information to organize nursery and greenhouse operations; and in ordering materials such as fertilizer, garden and lawn care equipment, and other nursery and greenhouse accessories

SOCIAL

Interest in providing information to customers on gardening and the care of trees, shrubs, flowers, plants and lawns

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Jul 07, 2016

Greenhouse operators run wholesale and retail horticultural firms ranging in size from small family businesses to operations employing over fifty people. They may deal with all kinds of plants and produce, or specialize in a particular type. Their duties and responsibilities therefore vary but, in general, greenhouse operators:

  • determine the type and quantity of plants to grow or stock (for example, cut or potted flowers, bedding plants, vegetables, plant varieties)
  • determine the environmental conditions required to grow the selected plants and set planting and care schedules accordingly
  • design, install, maintain and program environmental control and irrigation systems
  • perform basic structural repairs to the greenhouse (for example, replace panes of glass, vent motors or environmental control components)
  • co-ordinate and perform exterior greenhouse maintenance (for example, cleaning glass or other glazing and installing adequate drainage)
  • supervise staff in planting, transplanting, pruning, feeding and spraying plants
  • identify and control problems caused by insects, rodents, plant diseases or nutritional deficiencies
  • ensure safe handling, use, storage and disposal of pesticides
  • develop and implement pest management plans for the greenhouse when needed  
  • operate and maintain carbon dioxide generators, ultraviolet sterilizers, water treatment machines and related equipment
  • develop marketing plans
  • provide information about plant selection and care
  • order equipment and supplies
  • hire, train and supervise staff
  • prepare and adhere to budgets and maintain records
  • keep up to date regarding new technologies and techniques (for example, biological crop protection, water capture and recirculation systems, new plant varieties)
  • ensure compliance with applicable provincial and federal regulations regarding food safety and the handling, use, storage and disposal of pesticides.

In smaller operations, greenhouse operators also may do some of the hands-on work in greenhouses:

  • prepare soil for planting, plant bulbs, seeds and cuttings, graft plants, transplant seedlings and rooted cuttings, and train and prune plants
  • remove weeds, spray plants with pesticides and apply fertilizers
  • position and regulate greenhouse irrigation systems to water plants
  • set up irrigation systems in soil-less growing media
  • maintain boilers, furnaces, electrical systems and fans
  • construct greenhouses and benches.
Working Conditions
Updated Jul 07, 2016

Greenhouse operators usually work indoors in greenhouses and offices. In some situations, they also may work outdoors in shade houses. Their hours of work often are long and irregular, particularly in the spring and summer months. Those who work in greenhouses that operate on a year-round basis may experience different busy periods. The work can be hectic at times and satisfying customer needs can be stressful. Operators sometimes work with pest management products and will need to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) while doing this.

Pruning or picking at heights up to two meters above the ground may be required.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Jul 07, 2016

Greenhouse operators need the following characteristics:

  • strong interest to work with plants
  • creative problem solving skills 
  • decision making skills
  • computer skills required to manage environmental control systems and inventory tracking
  • manual dexterity and mechanical ability to deal with equipment 
  • no severe allergies to plants, pollen, pesticides or other chemicals 
  • comfortable occasionally working at heights up to two meters above the ground
  • patience
  • an eye for detail.

Those in retail operations also must be able to deal courteously and effectively with the public.

Greenhouse operators should enjoy directing the work of others, organizing greenhouse operations and providing information to customers.

Educational Requirements
Updated Jul 07, 2016

In the past, many greenhouse operators worked their way up to supervisory positions by learning on the job and taking related courses. However, graduates of post-secondary education programs in horticulture generally have a better chance of advancing to supervisory and management positions. Computer skills are a definite asset. 


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Short courses and workshops in horticulture also are offered by the Alberta Greenhouse Growers Association.

Certification Requirements
Updated Jul 07, 2016

Pesticide Applicator and Dispenser

Pesticide applicators use pesticides (chemicals) to control pests (for example, weeds or destructive insects or animals) as part of their paid employment. Pesticide dispensers sell and store pesticides as part of their paid employment. For related information, see the Arborist, Greenhouse Operator, Market Gardener, Nursery Operator, Pest Control Operator and Turfgrass Management Specialist occupational profiles in OCCinfo.

Legislation

Under Alberta's Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act and Pesticide (Ministerial) Regulation, you must be a commercial agriculturalist (farmer) or a certified pesticide applicator, or supervised by someone who is certified, to apply a commercial pesticide (for example, insecticide, herbicide or fungicide). You must be a certified dispenser to sell pesticides. There are two types of dispensers in Alberta: (1) Lawn and Garden Pesticide Dispensers sell domestic class pesticides, and (2) Commercial Dispensers sell domestic, commercial and restricted class pesticides.

Education

Certification requires successful completion of an exam. A preparatory course is available through home study materials or classroom tutorials. For official, detailed information about certification requirements, contact Alberta Environment and Parks or visit their website.

Working in Alberta

Pesticide applicator and dispensers who are certified by and in good standing with a regulatory organization elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for certification in Alberta if certified pesticide applicators and dispensers in the two jurisdictions have similar responsibilities and competencies. For more information, see "What if I am already certified in another province or territory?" and the Alberta regulatory authority (below).

Contact Details

Alberta Environment and Parks
Box 24, 10320 - 99 Street
Grande Prairie, Alberta  T8V 6J4
Phone number: 780-538-8054
Toll-free phone number (within Alberta): 310-0000
Fax number: 780-538-5336
Website: aep.alberta.ca

Employment & Advancement
Updated Jul 07, 2016

Greenhouse operators may be self-employed or employed as greenhouse or garden centre managers. Most work in the wholesale or retail industry; some work for government departments or research centres.

Greenhouse operators generally start in junior positions and work their way up (or start their own businesses). Greenhouse positions may be full time, part time or seasonal. Advancement depends on aptitude, performance and the availability of supervisory positions. Opportunities for advancement beyond the greenhouse operator level are limited and require additional training in the areas of business and science.

Greenhouse operators are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 0822: Managers in Horticulture. In Alberta, 90% of  people employed in this classification work in the Agricultural (PDF) industry.

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Agriculture industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Jul 07, 2016

Earnings for greenhouse operators vary considerably, particularly for those who are self-employed.

Greenhouse operators are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 0822: Managers in horticulture

According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Managers in horticulture occupational group earned on average from $25.61 to $32.57 an hour. The overall average wage was $29.34 an hour. For more information, see the Managers in horticulture wage profile.

Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Science
    • Biology
  • Business, Administration, Finance and IT
    • Management and Marketing
  • Natural Resources
    • Agriculture
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Agriculture and Related Technologies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Jul 07, 2016

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry website: www.agric.gov.ab.ca

Alberta Environment and Parks website: aep.alberta.ca

Alberta Greenhouse Growers Association website: agga.ca

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Jan 28, 2013. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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