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Top Paying Landscaping Jobs

5 minute read

By Kimberly Dixon

Thinking of landscaping often draws images of a person gardening or mowing the lawn, but there’s a lot more to it than that. There’s actually an array of jobs that people can take on in this industry, ranging from labor-intensive landscaping work to higher-paying professional jobs, such as landscape architects and landscape estimators.

Better yet, some of these jobs come with salaries that are higher than what most would expect.

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Landscape Architect

Landscape architects are responsible for designing beautiful outdoor spaces. They often oversee the design of city parks, recreational facilities, and schools. In some cases, they may also take on residential work, helping homeowners create beautiful gardens and yards that are lush with trees, bright flowers, or green, healthy lawns. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), landscape architects earn an average salary of $67,950 per year, with the top 10 percent of earners yielding more than $77,670 annually.1

Landscape Manager

As a landscape manager, a person is in charge of coordinating landscaping laborers and ensuring that landscaping projects are completed according to an architect or designer’s plans. While hours vary depending on the environment and time of year, most landscape managers work full-time hours. According to the BLS, the average landscaping manager or frontline supervisor earns an annual wage of $48,800, with the top 10 percent of landscape managers earning more than $78,880 per year.2

Landscape Irrigation Technician

A landscape irrigation technician is a skilled professional who installs and maintains sprinklers, pumps, and other irrigation equipment, helping to keep grass and plant life healthy. While an irrigation technician is most often employed in a commercial capacity, some work for residential properties to maintain healthy lawns and gardens. According to ZipRecruiter, irrigation technicians in the United States earn an average of $36,946 per year, which works out to about $17.76 hourly when working a 40-hour week.3

Landscape Superintendent

The function of a landscape superintendent is to oversee all operations that are carried out at sites throughout the company that employs them. That means instead of just overseeing a single site, which is what a typical landscape manager or supervisor does, they oversee operations at multiple sites. According to ZipRecruiter, landscape superintendents make an average salary of $57,336 per year, or $27.57 per hour, with some earning as much as $112,000 annually.4

Arborist

Arborists are tree experts. Their jobs include everything from planting new trees and transplanting mature trees to caring for the health of trees that have been infected with disease. Arborists typically work on landscaping crews in a supervisory capacity or independently, focusing solely on the health of trees at businesses and residences in the areas they serve. ZipRecruiter reports that arborists earn an average of $48,404 per year, with those at the top of their profession earning up to $68,500.5

Mason

While masons aren’t always considered landscapers, they do a ton of landscaping work. When it comes to landscaping, they’re responsible for using tools and expertise to shape and place rocks, bricks, and other hard, heavy materials. They’re also responsible for mixing and preparing cement and concrete. According to the BLS, masons earn an average of $48,040 per year, and this career path is expected to see a two percent decline in available jobs between 2020 and 2030.6

Landscape Drafter

Drafters play an important role in landscape design and architecture. Their job is to create computer-generated or computer-aided designs of landscaping plans for residential and commercial clients. In the process, they’re responsible for specifying layouts, materials, and computer images of what the final product should look like. Salary reports on ZipRecruiter vary depending on the state, and no national average is available. However, Landscape Drafters in Phoenix, AZ, earn as much as $62,550 per year7, while those in Texas earn a median salary of $40,839 annually.8

Machine Operator

Heavy machinery is frequently used in landscaping, and it’s important that professionals are available who know how to operate that machinery safely and effectively. Landscaping machine operators may be hired to move heavy materials, such as rock, brick, concrete or even fencing, or they may be hired to operate machines that assist in digging up trees, plants, grass, or dirt. Data published by ZipRecruiter states that machine operators in the United States earn an average of $19.23 per hour, which works out to a little less than $40,000 per year.9

Lawn Care Specialist

Lawn care specialists typically work for landscaping companies or independently. In some cases, they may also be employed by golf courses or other athletic facilities to maintain green, healthy grass that best suits the sport being played. According to salary data posted by Indeed, lawn care specialists throughout the United States earn an average of $17.38 per hour and as much as $4,391 per year in overtime pay. In most cases, lawn care specialists work seasonally; however, in states where the weather is warm year-round, the position may be full-time.10

Groundskeeper

Groundskeepers are generally employed at large facilities, such as multifamily residences, hotels, schools, and hospitals. Their jobs can vary from day to day but typically include tasks, such as mowing the lawn, weeding, and caring for trees and gardens during the summer months. If they’re employed in a place that has snow in the winter, they’ll typically be responsible for plowing parking lots and shoveling snow from sidewalks. According to the BLS, groundskeepers earn an average of $17.05 per hour, which works out to $35,460 per year. Those with the highest salaries may earn a higher wage of $22 per hour or more.11

Pesticide Handlers

Pesticide handlers are responsible for knowing about the potential pests that can infect vegetation in the areas where they live. Their jobs consist of preparing, safely handling, and spraying or applying pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides to prevent or cure infestation. They may work around dust, vapor, or chemicals regularly throughout the day. While some are employed by landscaping companies, most work for pest control agencies or independently. The average pesticide handler earns about $18.40 per hour, which equates to $38,270 per year based on a 40-hour workweek.12

Gardener

Gardeners are typically what most people think of when they think of landscaping work. They’re responsible for maintaining beautiful, well-manicured gardens, ensuring that flowers, plants, vegetables, and other vegetation grow as they’re supposed to. Their work is generally seasonal and consists of planting and sowing seeds, tending to gardens to ensure growth, checking for signs of disease or infestation and harvesting vegetables or other plants, as necessary. Other duties that are usually carried out by gardeners include mowing lawns, fertilization of green spaces and in some cases, designing gardens or green spaces for their clients. The average gardener earns about $16.25 per hour, according to the BLS. When working a full 40-hour week year-round, this works out to a salary of $33,800.13

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