There is a world of opportunities within the floral industry and many different specialisms you’ll need to learn to be a good all round florist. If you are looking for a career to pursue after leaving school or wish to change careers, there are some important things you’ll need to consider.
Floristry is an exciting and varied career. Whether you fancy making floral creations in exotic locations, running your own business, freelancing for the finest or getting into wholesale – there’s so many outlets where you can use your skills once you have learnt the ropes.
For all the many benefits and job satisfaction the career may bring, there are also challenges to consider to make sure you will be really happy and suited to the career. A florists job is to provide a service which will ‘wow’ AND look effortless but there are years of training as well as physically challenging and antisocial aspects to the day to day job.
Generally around 2 years of professional basic training is required as well as working within the industry in order to consider yourself as a ‘Florist’
Flowers are beautiful and especially so once they have been professionally arranged, but, the process to get them to a customer or client can be very unglamorous. As we work with fresh and perishable products you’ll need to be quick to problem solve and be prepared for the following…
- Early mornings: Especially true during peak periods, wedding season and for events early mornings are standard. It’s not a 9-5 job and sometimes you can be in work for 7am, especially if you work for yourself.
- Long days: If it’s an early start, no doubt it will be a busy day and you can be working quite late as well, especially if you are creating event decor. Sometimes shift work is also applicable.
- Unsociable hours: Retail work requires weekend hours and parties/ events often take place on weekends, Bank Holidays and culturally significant dates, meaning your family and friends time can be greatly effected.
- A cold working environment: Flowers require cold temperatures to make sure they have the required vase life for the end client. Often you’ll be wearing many layers, hats, scarfs and gloves as a standard and you may be in and out of walk in fridges all day depending on your place of work and their set up.
- Customer service: Dealing with many happy customers but also complaints when they arise, dealing professionally and sympathetically with grieving families over funeral flowers and managing expectations and excitement when dealing with Wedding clients (All of this can be within one day! mentally it can be challenging dealing with such a range of emotions)
- Small working teams: A small close team is a usual way of working, especially in retail but also can be the same in events too. Some find this a challenge if you are used to working in bigger team environments.
- Cold water and constant cleaning: It’s a staple of the job, flowers need cold water and there is always a spill to clean up or a dirty vase to wash. No matter how high up you go in your career, everyone cleans vases, gets wet hands and if your very unlucky get soggy feet sometimes!
- Heavy lifting and working at height: Buckets and vases of water are heavy and indeed so are bunches of flowers in wholesale numbers. Plants in containers of soil are also not light and you’ll be expected to lift and move heavy items with your team when required. This is especially so for event work where you can often also be working at height up ladders.
- Driving: Florists drive vans and although some businesses have drivers or warehouse staff who drive it isn’t unusual for a florist to drive large vehicles whilst at work.
Whilst having a natural creative flair is beneficial, training is key – there is much to learn in the floristry world… floristry is a fabulous career that will most certainly keep you on your toes! You’ll need to be prepared to practice practice practice. Florists typically learn both in college and at work which can mean possibly 6 days a week on the go! enthusiasm is the key. You’ll be learning a variety of skills and here are just a few…….
- Customer care
- Botanical nomenclature (Common names and latin names for flowers)
- Care, conditioning and processing of floral and plant materials
- Buying and managing vase life of flowers
- Detailed techniques to enable you to construct designs professionally
- Wrapping and presentation
- Technology and software specific to the floral industry
- Art and Design theory
Usually you’ll join a working team as a junior florist, talking with customers, answering the phone, taking orders and helping with the cleaning whilst practicing the simpler designs and taking on board the design help from more experienced colleagues and tutors. Next (perhaps after 2-3 years as a junior depending on your progress) you’ll move up to a Senior Florist where you might gain more and more responsibilities on a day to day basis. You’ll be expected to create designs from orders, manage your time and work in a logical fashion which is commercially viable. Once you are this stage (perhaps doing this for 3-5 years) you can then prepare yourself to take on more of a management role or even decide to be a freelance florist. These years gain you valuable knowledge and commercial speed which is vital.
Once you are ready, you might wish to open your own business, move into events, concentrate on more intense and artistic funeral design work or continue to work as a senior or management level florist.
Floristry is an amazingly rewarding career and if what you have read here sounds like your cup of tea then join us! The industry would love to have you. Visit our training pages to learn more about education, see our college pages to see where study is available near you or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions.
NOTE: Time frames mentioned may vary depending on your skill and progression. The times given here are a usual timeframe of progression for an average career so you can understand the commitments required.