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Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.
We asked Brian Howard from Department of Education and Skills to give some advice for people considering this job:
This career involves working with people in a caring capacity. If you have no interest in helping people personally or educationally then this may be the wrong profession for you.
Empathy, patience and respect are important qualities for this job, in addition to be able to relate well to the person you are dealing with. As there is also a large amount of information to be handled in the job, good organisational, IT and time management skills are also quite important.
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Paul Dowling, Horticulturist
Paul is the manager of an Amenity Horticultural business and is based in Dublin. Having completed a Horticultural course in the National Botanic Gardens he went on to start up his own business. Now employing several gardeners, he has a thriving business doing what he loves most.
I took the Leaving Cert with Hons Biology and Chemistry. I then did the Amenity Horticulture course in the National Botanic gardens (a two year course then - now 3 with a practical year). Before starting in business, I took a "Start Your Own Business" course with the Irish Productivity Centre.
Biology and Chemistry were my favorites. Another which I found useful was Woodwork. Unfortunately, I gave up Woodwork, which is a good practical subject too early. The subjects I really enjoyed the most were Biology and Chemistry. Other practical subjects like Metalwork or Orienteering have been helpful. Biology is most important for anyone going into Horticulture as it covers propagation and helps with the identification of plant names, species and families through the universal use of Latin. Chemistry is also helpful as the use of various chemicals is a constant in horticulture. The chemical content and dangers of fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides in use in Amenity Horticulture needs to be understood anyone going into this business.
An interest in Biology, my favorite subject, and Chemistry - they were a great help. Then also doing the Horticulture course in the Botanic gardens. Plant Identification was very important. There's a huge range of plants there from all over the world, so it's a great place to learn plants, to get to know them. It gives you a huge advantage, because you know the scientific, the Latin and the common names. It makes things a lot easier.
I'm doing ongoing courses in safety, though probably at this stage in my career I'll be doing more at the business end of things, doing courses on communications and management and things like that. I have attended some small courses on spraying and chainsaws, things like that at various times over the years. Some of these are run by Teagasc,FETAC, ALCI and others. I attend business seminars, as well as other relevant seminars, on a regular basis in order to keep up to date with industry trends.