Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

Occupation Outlook | Main MBIE Site

Gardeners and Groundspeople

Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

Job prospects for gardeners and groundspeople are moderate. This occupation is not projected to grow, but there should still be possibilities for some new gardeners and groundspeople. There is a shortage of skilled workers in the specialisation arborist.

How to become a gardener or groundsperson

What they do

Gardeners and groundspeople construct and maintain gardens and parks. Gardeners spend much of their time planting or weeding flowerbeds.

their tasks may include:

  • preparing and maintaining seedbeds and growing sites
  • propagating and planting trees, bushes, hedges, flowers and bulbs
  • preparing lawn areas by spreading top soil and planting grass, and by laying instant turf
  • maintaining planted and grassed areas by weeding, trimming, fertilising, watering and mowing
  • pruning trees and hedges, and installing plant support and protection devices
  • preparing plans and drawings, selecting materials and plants, and scheduling landscape construction
  • setting out and installing hardscape and softscape structures
  • constructing gravel and paved areas, walls, fences, pergolas, ponds, barbecues and garden furniture
  • examining trees to assess their condition and determine treatment
  • lopping limbs off trees and shaping branches using chain and handsaws
  • spraying and dusting plants and trees to control insects and disease, and felling diseased trees.


There are no entry requirements to work as a gardener or groundsperson. It would be an advantage for future gardeners to have some horticultural experience, but most skills can be learned on the job.

The Primary ITO offers a National Certificates in Horticulture at Levels 1-4.The more advanced ones of these are for people who are already employed, and most training is done on the job.

For groundspeople, the Primary ITO offers National Certificates in Sports Turf Management (Level 3-5) and a National Diploma in Sports Turf Management (Level 6). These qualifications also take the form of apprenticeships that are done on the job.

Several polytechnics and private training establishments also offer qualifications in horticulture.

The New Zealand Apprenticeships scheme is available for anyone over the age of 16, and is subsidised by the government. More information on the scheme is on the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) website.


Cost of study

National Certificate in Amenity Horticulture (Level 4)

Completing a National Certificate in Amenity Horticulture (Level 4) through the Primary ITO costs around $800in fees. Other costs might come in addition to this. Students who do this training can earn money while they are training for a qualification, as most training is on the job.

Studying at a polytechnic will usually be more expensive than training through the ITO. Although some polytechnics may have zero-fees schemes, it will still be better for a student to earn money while studying. Polytechnics are a good option for prospective gardener or groundspeople who are struggling to find employment without a qualification.  First time students may be eligible for  fees-free tertiary education for their first year of study, which will reduce the total cost. For more information about fees-free eligibility, go to Further costs include materials, textbooks, and accommodation.

Rents vary from place to place. Estimated market rents by region, city and suburb are available on the MBIE Tenancy Services website.

The StudyLink website provides general budget advice for students, and the Sorted website provides help with detailed budget planning.

Tenancy Services: 

Where to study

The Industry Training Organisation (ITO) that looks after training for gardeners and groundspeople is the Primary ITO. They arrange training with employers nationwide.

A National Certificate in horticulture can also be taken at several polytechnics in New Zealand. A National Certificate in Sports Turf Management can also be studied at Otago Polytechnic

Primary ITO: 
Otago Polytechnic:

Completed qualifications

The number of students completing a level 4 certificate in the broader category ‘Horticulture & Viticulture’ has been steady in recent years. There could be many reasons for this, but it could indicate that there is a little less competition for gardener jobs than three was a few years ago.

Qualification completions chart


Source: Ministry of Education

Income and employment prospects


The 2018 annual income for gardeners and groundspeople is estimated to be around $36,000. New gardeners and groundspeople are likely to start out on or close to the minimum wage.

Estimated Average Income

Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index

Employment and skill shortages

Gardeners and groundspeople’s employment

HistoricProjected Growth
2006 2013 2023 2028
8,985 9,093 9,150 9,500
  0.2% 0.1% 0.6%

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
* Growth projections are based on the category “Horticultural Trades Workers”.

The number of gardeners and groundspeople in employment rose slightly from 2006 to 2013. Employment numbers are projected to  be relatively stable for the next few years.

Gardeners and groundspeople usually work for public bodies that owns parks and sports fields or for individuals or families who want help in their own gardens.

Employment chart

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections

Outcomes after qualification completion*

OverseasIn further studyReceiving a benefitIn employmentMedian Salary
9% 31% 2% 76% $52,000

Source: Tertiary Education Commission. 
*Three years after completion of L4 Certificate - Horticulture & Viticulture.

Three years after completing a certificate in horticulture or viticulture, most graduates are in employment or in further study. Few graduates are overseas three years later, while a few are receiving a benefit. The median salary three years after completion was around $52,000.

Arborists are on Immigration New Zealand's Immediate Skill Shortage List for all regions. Arborists are a special kind of gardener who focuses on caring for and maintaining trees. If a job appears on the list, it means the government is actively encouraging skilled people in the role to come and work in New Zealand. A full list is available on the Immigration New Zealand website.

Immigration NZ, skill shortage list:

Where to find job vacancies


Jobs advertised chart

The number of advertisements for gardening jobs has increased at a higher rate than for all vacancies.



Gardener and groundsperson vacancies are advertised through websites such as TradeMe Jobs and Seek.

TradeMe Jobs: 

Career path

Gardeners and groundspeople can gain more responsibility when they get more experience. For example, they could be tasked with planning a garden as well as planting or weeding it, and could become a supervisor for other gardeners. Some gardeners establish their own companies, or work independently as sole proprietors.

Related occupations

The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry level gardeners and groundspeople.

  • Arborist
  • Gardener
  • Greenkeeper
  • Groundsperson
  • Landscape Gardener
  • Landscaper
  • Nursery Grower
  • Tree Surgeon
  • Turf Keeper

Other information


More information on gardeners and groundspeople is available on the Careers New Zealand website.

Careers New Zealand:


The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.

The occupation of gardeners and groundspeople has been coded to the following ANZSCO codes for the purpose of this report:

362211 – Gardener (General)
362212 – Arborist
362213 – Landscape Gardener
3623 – Greenkeepers