How to become a horticultural therapist
You may be able to get into this job through:
- a university course
- an apprenticeship
- specialist courses run by private training organisations
You could do a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree course in horticulture, although this isn't always essential.
Some universities offer horticulture courses that include modules on social and therapeutic horticulture.
You could do a degree in a relevant subject and take further training in social and therapeutic horticulture. Relevant degree subjects include:
- occupational therapy
- social work
- mental health or learning disability nursing
You'll usually need:
- 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
- 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
- a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study
You may be able to work towards this role through getting horticultural skills from an intermediate horticulture operative or a higher horticultural supervisor apprenticeship. You could also consider an occupational therapy degree apprenticeship.
With experience you could then take further specialist training courses in social and therapeutic horticulture.
To get onto an apprenticeship, you'll find it useful to have:
- some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship
It can be really useful to get experience of working on a horticulture project, or as a horticultural support worker, on a paid or voluntary basis. You'll get a better understanding of the role, and make contacts who could help when looking for work.
Volunteering opportunities are available with Thrive if you live within travelling distance of their gardens in Battersea (South London), Birmingham, Gateshead or Beech Hill (near Reading). Thrive also has details of other horticulture projects in the UK.
You can find out about other local volunteering opportunities from Do-IT and NCVO.
You can attend short courses run by Thrive, a national charity who offer Step into Social and Therapeutic Horticulture workshops.
You may have an advantage if you are moving into this career from other areas of horticulture or jobs such as social care, occupational therapy, nursing or teaching.
Professional and industry bodies
You can join the Chartered Institute of Horticulture for access to industry newsletters, events and support.
You can find out more about becoming a horticultural therapist from Thrive and the Chartered Institute of Horticulture.