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Horticultural therapist

Alternative titles for this job include

Horticultural therapists use gardening to improve their clients' health and wellbeing.

Average salary (a year)

£17,000 Starter


£30,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

37 to 39 variable

You could work

evenings / weekends managing your own hours

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

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
  • teaching

Entry requirements

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

More Information


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.

Entry requirements

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

More Information


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.

Other Routes

You can attend short courses run by Thrive, a national charity who offer Step into Social and Therapeutic Horticulture workshops.

More Information

Career tips

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.

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a horticultural therapist from Thrive and the Chartered Institute of Horticulture.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • knowledge of psychology
  • counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
  • the ability to work well with others
  • leadership skills
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

Restrictions and Requirements

You'll need to:

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

In your day-to-day duties you may:

  • develop clients' practical or social skills, confidence or self-esteem
  • help clients to learn or re-learn basic skills, including numeracy and literacy
  • provide outdoor activity and exercise to restore strength and mobility after injury or illness
  • support clients to take horticultural qualifications or to move into work
  • work closely with other professionals like psychologists and social workers
  • manage staff and volunteers
  • draw up proposals for projects

Working environment

You could work in a garden, on a country estate or in a therapy clinic.

Your working environment may be outdoors in all weathers and physically demanding.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

You could use horticultural therapy as part of a wider role, like occupational therapy. With experience and further study, you could move into a supervisory role, or research.

You could become self-employed or teach and supervise trainees of therapeutic horticulture techniques.

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Landscaping apprenticeship

  • Wage: £10,982.40 Annually

Apprentice Gardener

  • Wage: £10,158.72 Annually
  • Location: Lacock, Chippenham

Courses In England

Introduction to Social & Therapeutic Horticulture

  • Start date: 12 April 2024
  • Location: Shipley

Horticulture Level 2

  • Start date: 11 September 2024
  • Location: Guildford

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