Education and Training: High school plus training
Salary: Median—$20,450 per year
Employment Outlook: Good
Definition and Nature of the Work
Floral designers artistically arrange real and artificial flowers, leaves, and other decorations. They make corsages, bouquets, wreaths, wedding decorations, and other kinds of floral designs. They follow standard designs or fill special orders. Sometimes they create original designs. Floral designers generally work in retail flower shops. Some designers manage their own shops.
Floral designers need to be knowledgeable about a wide range of flowers, foliage, and potted plants. They must know their names, seasonal availability, and how long they will stay fresh. Designers must also keep up-to-date on the current fashions and styles in floral design while at the same time understand the traditions of using certain flowers for weddings, funerals, and other occasions.
Designers usually work from the written orders of their customers. These orders may be very specific or may leave many details to the imagination of the designer. Floral designers select the appropriate flowers and cut the stems to the proper length. They may strengthen them with wire or wooden sticks. They arrange the flowers in a base of Styrofoam or other material. Sometimes customers provide special containers for floral arrangements. Other times the designers may choose containers. Leafy branches and decorations such as bows, tiny bells, or artificial butterflies are often used to accentuate or complete the floral design.
Besides creating arrangements, floral designers also help out in other ways in a flower shop. Some wait on customers or give advice about floral purchases. Others arrange potted plants and terrariums or work on seasonal decorations. For example, they may wire together small pinecones for use in floral designs for winter. Designers also unpack flowers and prepare them for storage. They water potted plants and cut flowers. Sometimes they help prepare attractive window displays.
Education and Training Requirements
A high school diploma is necessary to enter this field. High school courses in art and business subjects are helpful. Most floral designers get their training on the job. It takes about two years of work experience to become a fully qualified designer. Students can get started by taking a part-time job as a designer's helper in a flower shop. Some high schools, junior colleges, and colleges also offer courses in floral design.
Getting the Job
The best way to get started in floral design is to apply directly to flower shops or grocery stores. Wholesale flower distributors or Internet florists also hire floral designers. School placement offices may be helpful in offering job information. Interested individuals can also apply to state or private employment agencies. Newspaper classifieds sometimes list job openings in flower shops. Prospective floral designers might also search job banks on the Internet.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
The employment of floral designers is expected to grow about as fast as average through the year 2014, due in part to the increasing population and the greater floral sales through the Internet and grocery stores. The field is highly uncompetitive due to the low pay and limited opportunities for advancement in this field.
Floral designers can move up to become managers in large flower shops. If they have the capital, they can open their own shops. Loans are available to qualified people.
Floral designers work in attractive shops. Their work areas are usually cool and humid so that the flowers will keep well. Designers often get small cuts and scratches from the tools and materials they handle. They may also need to stand for long hours and deal with allergies to the flowers. Floral designers generally work forty to forty-eight hours per week, including Saturdays. Their hours may increase to prepare for an event like a wedding or to fill large holiday orders.
Floral designers need to have some artistic talent and the ability to work well with their hands. They should be able to get along with customers. Designers who want to start their own shops should also have good business sense.
Where to Go for More Information
American Institute of Floral Designers
720 Light St.
Baltimore, MD 21230
Society of American Florists
1601 Duke St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
Earnings and Benefits
Floral designers earn a median salary of $20,450 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Small shops may offer few benefits to their workers. Benefits in larger shops may include paid holidays and vacations and health insurance. Self-employed floral designers need to provide their own benefits.