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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 $59,186.00
  • Avg. Wage $29.21
  • Minimum Education 2 years post-secondary
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As


NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Nursery and Greenhouse Operators and Managers (8254) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Nursery and Greenhouse Operators and Managers (I014) 
  • 2011 NOC: Managers in horticulture (0822) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Interest Codes
The Greenhouse Operator is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Nursery and Greenhouse Operators and Managers

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


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


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

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, such as weeds, diseases or destructive insects or animals, as part of their paid employment.

Pesticide dispensers sell and store pesticides as part of their paid employment.


Under Alberta's Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act [pdf] and Pesticide (Ministerial) Regulation [pdf], to apply a commercial-class pesticide such as insecticide, herbicide or fungicide you must be one of the following:

  • A commercial agriculturalist (farmer)
  • A certified pesticide applicator
  • Supervised by someone who is certified

To sell pesticides you must be a certified dispenser. The 2 types of dispensers in Alberta are:

  • Lawn and garden pesticide dispensers sell domestic-class pesticides
  • Commercial dispensers sell domestic-, commercial- and restricted-class pesticides

What You Need

Certification for applicators and dispensers require successful completion of an exam. A preparatory course is available through home study materials or classroom tutorials.

Individuals may become certified in one or more applicator classes. For detailed official information, read about the pesticide applicator and dispenser certification requirements on the Government of Alberta 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 in Canada? and the Government of Alberta website.

Contact Details

Alberta Environment and Parks
Government of Alberta
Box 24, 10320 - 99 Street, Main Floor
Grande Prairie, Alberta  T8V 6J4

Call: 780-538-6460
Toll-free within Alberta: 310-3773
Toll-free outside Alberta: 780-944-0313
Fax: 780-538-5336

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.

Managers in horticulture

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $13.85 $46.15 $26.64 $22.00
Overall $13.85 $50.26 $29.21 $25.00
Top $13.85 $54.63 $31.62 $30.00

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information
Business, Building and Other Support Services

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


Vacancy Rate

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Agriculture and Related Technologies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Jul 07, 2016

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry website:

Alberta Environment and Parks website:

Alberta Greenhouse Growers Association website:

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Supports 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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