Careers at the Royal Horticultural Society

Date: November 6, 2023
Categories: 11-15 | 16-18 | 19-24 | 25+ | Featured | Salford

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.

Our vision is a world where gardening is embraced as a way of life – a source of joy and fulfilment, building healthier lives, stronger communities, and thriving environments. To achieve this, our mission is to be there for everyone on their lifelong adventure with gardening.

If you love being outdoors, are passionate about biodiversity, plants and wildlife and would like to help create a greener, more sustainable environment which protects the planet, then a career in horticulture could be the perfect choice for you.

Working outside in nature is great for your health and wellbeing. Horticulture offers lots of career opportunities, from plant breeding, genetic engineering, landscape design, floral design, research, nursery production, education, food science, landscape construction to management, horticultural therapy, groundworks, marketing and pest control.

RHS Apprentice gardeners working in the gardens

Image © RHS / Mark Waugh

Opportunities with the RHS

The RHS has been delivering horticultural training for over 200 years. Our School of Horticulture offers annual work-based training opportunities across all five RHS gardens, the perfect starting point for those with no prior experience or formal horticultural qualifications. All you need is a passion for plants, the outdoors and nature.

An RHS student sitting in a tree holding a helmet.

Image © RHS / Megan Taylor


Our two-year Level 2 Horticultural and Arboriculture Apprenticeships provide a great opportunity to learn alongside experts, with additional college attendance:

Horticultural Operative Apprenticeship (L2) spend two years working alongside experienced horticulturists in our prestigious RHS Gardens. This experience gives a real understanding of the seasonal work involved in an ornamental garden. There is nothing like getting your hands dirty to grow your knowledge and confidence.

Arboriculture Apprenticeship (L2) spend two years working alongside experienced arborists in our prestigious RHS Gardens. This experience gives a real understanding of the seasonal work involved in maintaining trees within a public garden. Arboriculture teams develop and enhance trees and the wider landscapes of RHS Gardens to delight visitors and benefit wildlife.

Our Level 3 Apprenticeships are suitable for those with a minimum of 6 months’ practical horticultural experience:

Horticulture Supervisor Apprenticeship (L3) spend three years working alongside experienced horticulturists. This experience gives learners a real understanding of the seasonal work involved in an ornamental garden and an understanding of how garden teams carry out their work for the benefit of everyone.

Key benefits:

  • Earn whilst learning.
  • Great starting point to kick-start a successful career.
  • Work alongside garden experts and grow your confidence, skills and knowledge.
  • Gain real-life work experience and increase your chances of securing employment.

Work experience

If you are a school student aged between 14 and 18, you have the opportunity to discover professional working environments at the RHS via work experience programmes at one of our stunning gardens.

Placements are available at RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey and at RHS Garden Bridgewater in the Greater Manchester area. Our gardens are easily accessed by car and both gardens operate shuttle buses at certain times of the year. If travel is a concern, we may be able to offer additional support in certain circumstances.

3 RHS students in conversation in a garden.

Image © RHS / Helen Yates

Work experience can last from a few days to two weeks, and you can choose between the following teams, which cover a wide variety of working environments within the gardens:

  • Garden Team – help our gardeners maintain our plant collection and plant for seasonal interest.
  • Science and Collections Team – work with our botany, entomology and pathology teams to see how science underpins horticulture.
  • Retail Team – create and maintain inspiring displays of our plants and gift shop areas.
  • Visitor Services Team – welcome our guests to our gardens and help to deliver fantastic customer service.

An RHS student is smiling while using a pair of secateurs to cut a plant.

Image © RHS / Megan Taylor

Taster Days

If you are curious about what it’s like to work in one of the UK’s most prestigious public gardens, then why not experience one of our fun and informal taster days run throughout the year at RHS Garden Wisley or RHS Garden Bridgewater. Our free sessions are designed for everyone, whether you are already a keen grower, have a love for plants, are interested in volunteering, or considering a horticultural career and want to know more.

Our one off taster sessions include a walk and talk around our public gardens that showcase a vast range of horticultural displays. You’ll get to meet like-mined people, hear from gardening professionals, explore behind-the-scenes and discover:

  • More about the Royal Horticultural Society
  • How horticulture can benefit us and nature
  • The different career paths available in horticulture
  • How our gardening science team are researching how gardeners can make an environmental difference
  • Information on careers/training and volunteering in horticulture.
  • How to start or progress in your horticulture career.
  • Our work experience programme

The session will also include a hands-on practical activity.

T-Level Industry Placements

If you are studying for the T-Level Agriculture, Land Management and Production, you can undertake your compulsory industry placement within one of our horticultural teams at RHS Garden Wisley or RHS Garden Bridgewater.

  • Get real-life experience of working as part of the team in one of the UK’s most prestigious public gardens.
  • Learn hands-on alongside knowledgeable, skilled and experienced horticulturists about managing our plant collections.
  • Be involved in day-to-day tasks in a diverse range of areas such as growing edible crops from around the world, or managing woodlands, learning how to be environmentally aware.
An RHS member of staff carrying a tray of flowers through a garden.

Image © RHS / Oliver Dixon

T-Level students will work with one of the Curatorial teams (our gardening teams) at either RHS Wisley or RHS Bridgewater, so according to which team you are allocated, you could be planting for seasonal interest, maintaining important plant collections, working with tropical plants in a greenhouse, or looking after the many tree specimen on site, among many other options. We will work together with you and your course provider to ensure your placement covers a good variety of skills and insights into the horticultural industries.

Our sites are easily accessed by car or taxi. At both gardens (Wisley and Bridgewater) shuttle buses operate at certain times of the year. If you think travel may be a barrier to you being able to carry out your placement at either of our gardens, please let us know, as we may be able to offer support in certain circumstances.

An RHS horticulturist is sweeping the paths of a garden.

Image © RHS / Oliver Dixon

Internships in horticulture (at RHS Wisley)

In order to support individuals who are new to the industry or who have just completed entry-level horticultural qualifications to develop their practical experience, we are hosting a small number of part-time horticultural internships at RHS Garden Wisley.

These internships are designed to give practical experience by:

  • Working alongside our skilled horticulturists,
  • Learning by doing,
  • Observing seasonal horticultural tasks involved in curating and maintaining ornamental or edible horticulture within a large public garden setting,
  • Experiencing the reality of working outdoors in all weathers,
  • Witnessing how our teams support the horticulture industry in becoming more sustainable.

The internship will not provide you with a qualification, however with a portfolio of evidence you can take away and use in the next steps of your career.