Frequently asked questions about Horticulture careers, the course, and life as a horticulture student in SETU.
Horticulture plays a central role in creating, maintaining, and enhancing the landscapes we live and work in. Pretty, pollinator-friendly floral displays are the backdrop in our thriving tourist towns. The pristine golf courses and pitches we compete on, and the beautiful parks, gardens, and urban landscapes we relax in would not be possible without the skills and knowledge of Ireland’s trained horticulturists. Equally, a year-round sustainable supply of fruit, vegetables, flowers and cut foliage is only achieved because horticulture scientists and producers make it so. There’s a job for our horticulture graduates along every step of the way. Our horticulture graduates build, create, grow, maintain and inspire in every town, village and rural environment in Ireland, and many of our graduates use their skills to help them travel the world.
People are always surprised at the diverse number of careers and jobs available to a fully qualified horticulturist. Our graduates run nurseries producing trees and shrubs for garden centres, or sell direct to the public themselves. They design, build and maintain golf courses and pitches, and they design, build and maintain parks and private and public gardens. We educate horticulturists to grow large field crops for supermarkets but also fruit and vegetables for small niche markets. Some of our graduates teach horticulture themselves, or use horticulture to heal in social or therapeutic settings. Some of Ireland’s most skilled craft gardeners and beekeepers are SETU horticulture graduates and many are profiled here on our career pages alongside a long list of some of the jobs our graduates have taken up. Many of our Level 7 horticulture graduates have progressed to the SETU Level 8 Add-on year (Land Management in Horticulture) and have subsequently gained MSc and PhD qualifications. Those with postgraduate qualifications have become lecturers and horticultural researchers aiming to enhance post-harvest technology, combat diseases, and to manipulate and control plant growth and productivity.
To get a better picture of how diverse, vibrant and large the Irish horticulture industry is, please check out the trade media at www.horticultureconnected.ie and www.growtrade.ie
Yes, horticulture is an industry that changes with the seasons, it is never boring or mundane, and offers multiple income streams to innovative and creative graduates. It is an industry that continually boasts excellent results in surveys evaluating career satisfaction and happiness. From our experience in SETU, horticulture classmates soon become firm friends, bonded by a shared love and appreciation of beautiful landscapes, food, and our natural flora and fauna. It is often remarked that the student who appears on their first day, becomes a new, much- improved version of themselves by their graduation. The lecturing staff take great pride in seeing this transformation over the three years of the course. Even by the end of the first year of study you will be equipped with new knowledge, skills and confidence which you can bring out into the world to find and carve your own horticulture niche or speciality.
As a horticulturist you will have learned the science behind how plants grow and function in many growing environments. You will learn how to use machinery and technology safely and effectively. You will learn craft gardening skills and students are often surprised to find they have a talent for garden design. You will be able to cultivate and propagate plants and you will be confidently able to diagnose and treat pests and diseases, and advise growers, and gardeners on choosing the correct plant for a particular environment, growing region, or soil. As important as all the practical knowledge is, the lecturing team, technicians and even your classmates will help you develop and hone the skills and confidence to be able to use all this new knowledge effectively.
The SETU horticulture degree is definitely popular with mature students who want to change their career focus entirely, or indeed, who have done a little research and have realised that they can make their hobby into a career. Mature graduates of horticulture in SETU have been from all walks of life: from homemakers who want to invest in themselves after their families have been reared, to metal fabrication and construction workers, accountants and soldiers retired from service. Often mature students who have become unemployed or want a lifestyle change or a job involving more outdoor work join the horticulture course in SETU. Indeed, in recent years many of our mature students have a piece of land which is not large enough to diversify into livestock farming, but with the horticulture knowledge (and the Green Certification that automatically is granted upon graduation from the course) they have the new skills and knowledge to make their smallholding pay. We have mature students joining us in first year, and others who join second year via advanced entry after completing level 6 horticulture studies.
Horticulture is often a career which appeals to mature students as they weigh up what is important in life and once on the course, the practical nature of the course balances well with the academic side of the work and this suits many mature students who are often apprehensive about returning to full-time study. This apprehension is usually misplaced though, as that statistics show that mature students outperform their classmates in many aspects of the course.
We educate our graduates to have all the knowledge needed to conserve and enhance the biodiversity of our natural environments so that we all do our bit to conserve the wellbeing of all that grow and thrive in them. Our horticulture programmes have an ethos of sustainability at their core. We have an entire module on biodiversity in year two, and sustainable practice is a fundamental thread that weaves its way into all our horticulture and science modules. We encourage our students to get involved in many conservation initiatives. In 2019, SETU signed up to the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan and within the first growing season, a bee orchid was discovered on campus. These efforts were driven by our horticulture students who made a valuable impact with their final year project by carrying out a survey on ‘Bee Hotels’ and sharing their findings with the National Biodiversity Data Centre.
Check out or Heritage Week Project where the horticulture staff and students showcase the wonder of the nature we find on our doorsteps, and teach how to conserve and enhance it. www.instagram.com/BeesBandB
The SETU BSc in Horticulture will help you develop your business acumen. We have listened closely to our colleagues and advisors from the horticulture industry who have called for graduates with a good understanding of how businesses operate. As a graduate of the BSc in Horticulture, you will have studied marketing techniques, and business and people management. Having developed this good business acumen sought after by employers you will be ready to slot into an existing business as a valuable member of the team, or you will be able to start your own business fully aware of and ready to tackle some of the challenges and pitfalls that are all part of running your own business. Given that our BSc in Horticulture does contain a good deal of valuable business education in year 3, it is heartening to hear that many of our graduates achieve supervisor and manager-level roles much earlier in their careers than normally expected, all due to the fact that our horticulture graduates are business savvy.
The following SETU Waterford part-time courses/modules run in Teagasc’s College of Amenity Horticulture in The National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin Dublin. They start in September each year and run for 8 hours per week, for 12 weeks. Click the link to explore the entry requirements for each course.
Email [email protected] to express your interest for a September 2022 start.
The following SETU Waterford part-time courses/modules run in Teagasc’s Kildalton College, Piltown, Co. Kilkenny. They start in September each year and run for 8 hours per week, for 12 weeks. Click the link to explore the entry requirements for each course.
Email [email protected] to express your interest for a September 2022 start.