Grounds Maintenance Workers

Summary

grounds maintenance workers image
Tree trimmers and pruners use chainsaws, chippers, and stump grinders while on the job.
Quick Facts: Grounds Maintenance Workers
2015 Median Pay $25,610 per year
$12.31 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education See How to Become One
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training See How to Become One
Number of Jobs, 2014 1,282,000
Job Outlook, 2014-24 6% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 77,600

What Grounds Maintenance Workers Do

Grounds maintenance workers ensure that the grounds of houses, businesses, and parks are attractive, orderly, and healthy in order to provide a pleasant outdoor environment.

Work Environment

Many grounds maintenance jobs are seasonal, available mainly in the spring, summer, and fall. Most of the work is done outdoors in all weather conditions. The work can be repetitive and physically demanding, requiring frequent bending, kneeling, lifting, and shoveling.

How to Become a Grounds Maintenance Worker

Most grounds maintenance workers need no formal education and are trained on the job. Most states require licensing for workers who apply pesticides or fertilizers.

Pay

The median hourly wage for grounds maintenance workers was $12.31 in May 2015.

Job Outlook

Employment of grounds maintenance workers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. More workers will be needed to keep up with increasing demand for lawn care and landscaping services from large institutions and individual homeowners. Job prospects should be very good.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for grounds maintenance workers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of grounds maintenance workers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about grounds maintenance workers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Grounds Maintenance Workers Do About this section

Grounds maintenance workers
Grounds maintenance workers mow, edge, and fertilize lawns.

Grounds maintenance workers ensure that the grounds of houses, businesses, and parks are attractive, orderly, and healthy in order to provide a pleasant outdoor environment.

Duties

Grounds maintenance workers typically do the following:

  • Mow, edge, and fertilize lawns
  • Weed and mulch landscape beds
  • Trim hedges, shrubs, and small trees
  • Remove dead, damaged, or unwanted trees
  • Plant flowers, trees, and shrubs
  • Water lawns, landscapes, and gardens
  • Monitor and maintain plant health

Grounds maintenance workers are generally under the direction of a professional grounds manager and perform a variety of tasks to achieve a pleasant and functional outdoor environment. They also care for indoor gardens and plantings in commercial and public facilities, such as malls, hotels, and botanical gardens.

The following are examples of types of grounds maintenance workers:

Landscaping workers plant trees, flowers, and shrubs to create new outdoor spaces or upgrade existing ones. They also trim, fertilize, mulch, and water plants. Some grade and install lawns or construct hardscapes such as walkways, patios, and decks. Others help install lighting or sprinkler systems. Landscaping workers are employed in a variety of residential and commercial settings, such as homes, apartment buildings, office buildings, shopping malls, and hotels and motels.

Groundskeeping workers, also called groundskeepers, maintain grounds. They care for plants and trees, rake and mulch leaves, and clear snow from walkways. They work on athletic fields, golf courses, cemeteries, university campuses, and parks, as well as in many of the same settings that landscaping workers work. They also see to the proper upkeep of sidewalks, parking lots, fountains, fences, planters, and benches, as well as groundskeeping equipment.

Groundskeeping workers who care for athletic fields keep natural and artificial turf in top condition, mark out boundaries, and paint turf with team logos and names before events. They mow, water, fertilize, and aerate the fields regularly. They must ensure that the underlying soil on fields with natural turf has the composition required to allow proper drainage and to support the grass used on the field. In sports venues, they vacuum and disinfect synthetic turf to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and they remove the turf and replace the cushioning pad periodically.

Groundskeepers in parks and recreation facilities care for lawns, trees, and shrubs; maintain playgrounds; clean buildings; and keep parking lots, picnic areas, and other public spaces free of litter. They also may erect and dismantle snow fences and maintain swimming pools. These workers inspect buildings and equipment, make needed repairs, and keep everything freshly painted.

Some groundskeepers specialize in caring for cemeteries and memorial gardens. They dig graves to specified depths, generally using a backhoe. They mow grass regularly, apply fertilizers and other chemicals, prune shrubs and trees, plant flowers, and remove debris from graves.

Greenskeepers maintain golf courses. Their work is similar to that of groundskeepers, but they also periodically relocate holes on putting greens and maintain benches and tee markers along the course and provide more intense turf maintenance. In addition, greenskeepers keep canopies, benches, and tee markers repaired and freshly painted.

Pesticide handlers, sprayers, and applicators apply herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides on plants or the soil to prevent or control weeds, insects, and diseases. Those who work for chemical lawn or tree service firms are more specialized, inspecting lawns for problems and applying fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals to stimulate growth and prevent or control weeds, diseases, or insect infestations.

Tree trimmers and pruners, also called arborists, cut away dead or excess branches from trees or shrubs to clear utility lines, roads, and sidewalks. Although many of these workers strive to improve the appearance and health of trees and plants, some specialize in diagnosing and treating tree diseases. Others specialize in pruning, trimming, and shaping ornamental trees and shrubs. Tree trimmers and pruners use chain saws, chippers, and stump grinders while on the job. When trimming near power lines, they usually work on truck-mounted lifts and use power pruners.

Work Environment About this section

Grounds maintenance workers
Grounds maintenance workers work outdoors in all kinds of weather.

Grounds maintenance workers held about 1.3 million jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most grounds maintenance workers were as follows:

Services to buildings and dwellings 41%
State and local government, excluding education and hospitals 8
Other amusement and recreation industries 7
Educational services; state, local, and private 4

Employment in the detailed occupations that make up grounds maintenance workers was distributed as follows: 

Landscaping and groundskeeping workers  1,167,800
Tree trimmers and pruners  53,200
Pesticide handlers, sprayers, and applicators, vegetation  36,400
Grounds maintenance workers, all other  24,500

Grounds maintenance work is done outdoors in all kinds of weather. The work can be repetitive and physically demanding, requiring frequent bending, lifting, and shoveling.

Injuries and Illnesses

Grounds maintenance workers have a rate of injuries and illnesses that is higher than the national average. Workers who use dangerous equipment, such as lawnmowers and chain saws, must wear protective clothing, eyewear, and earplugs.

Those who apply chemicals such as pesticides or fertilizers must wear protective gear, including appropriate clothing, gloves, goggles, and sometimes respirators.

Tree trimmers and pruners, who often work at great heights, must always use fall protection gear in addition to wearing hardhats and eye protection for most activities.

Work Schedules

Many grounds maintenance jobs are seasonal. Jobs are most common in the spring, summer, and fall, when planting, mowing, and trimming are most frequent. However, many also provide other seasonal services, such as snow removal and installation and removal of holiday décor.

How to Become a Grounds Maintenance Worker About this section

Grounds maintenance workers
Some workers obtain a degree in landscape design or horticulture.

Most grounds maintenance workers need no formal education and are trained on the job. Most states require licensing for workers who apply pesticides and fertilizers.

Education

Although most grounds maintenance jobs have no education requirements, some employers may require formal education or certification in areas such as landscape design, horticulture, or arboriculture.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Most states require workers who apply pesticides and fertilizers to be licensed. Obtaining a license usually involves passing a test on the proper use and disposal of insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides.

The National Association of Landscape Professionals offers seven certifications in landscaping and grounds maintenance for workers at various experience levels.

The Tree Care Industry Association offers certification for tree care safety professionals.

The International Society of Arboriculture offers six certifications for workers at various experience levels.

The Professional Grounds Management Society offers certification for workers at various experience levels.

Training

A short period of on-the-job training is usually enough to teach new hires the skills they need, which often include how to plant and maintain areas and how to use mowers, trimmers, leaf blowers, small tractors, and other equipment. Large institutional employers such as golf courses, university campuses, or municipalities may supplement on-the-job training with coursework in horticulture or small-engine repair.

Advancement

Grounds maintenance workers who have good communication skills may become crew leaders or advance into other supervisory positions. Becoming a manager or a landscape contractor may require some formal education and several years of related work experience. Some workers use their experience to start their own landscaping companies.

Important Qualities

Physical stamina. Grounds maintenance workers must be capable of doing physically strenuous labor for long hours, occasionally in extreme heat or cold.

Self-motivated. Because they often work with little supervision, grounds maintenance workers must be able to do their job independently.

Pay About this section

Grounds Maintenance Workers

Median hourly wages, May 2015

Total, all occupations

$17.40

Grounds maintenance workers

$12.31

Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations

$11.47

 

The median hourly wage for grounds maintenance workers was $12.31 in May 2015. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.93, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $19.96.

Median hourly wages for grounds maintenance workers in May 2015 were as follows:

Tree trimmers and pruners $16.10
Pesticide handlers, sprayers, and applicators, vegetation 15.64
Grounds maintenance workers, all other 14.05
Landscaping and groundskeeping workers 12.03

In May 2015, the median hourly wages for grounds maintenance workers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Educational services; state, local, and private $14.49
State and local government, excluding education and hospitals 13.65
Services to buildings and dwellings 12.34
Other amusement and recreation industries 10.96

Many grounds maintenance jobs are seasonal. Jobs are most common in the spring, summer, and fall, when planting, mowing, and trimming are most frequent. However, many also provide other seasonal services, such as snow removal and installation and removal of holiday décor.

Job Outlook About this section

Grounds Maintenance Workers

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Total, all occupations

7%

Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations

6%

Grounds maintenance workers

6%

 

Overall employment of grounds maintenance workers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Employment growth will vary by specialty.

Employment of landscaping and groundskeeping workers—the largest specialty—is projected to grow 6 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. More workers will be needed to keep up with increasing demand for lawn care and landscaping services from large institutions, including universities and corporate campuses. Many aging or busy homeowners also may need lawn care services to help maintain their yards.

Employment of tree trimmers and pruners is projected to grow 6 percent from 2014 to 2024. Many municipalities are planting more trees in urban areas, likely increasing the demand for these workers.

Job Prospects

Overall job opportunities are expected to be very good. Job opportunities will stem from employment growth and from the need to replace workers who leave the occupation each year.

Job opportunities should be best in areas with temperate climates, where more landscaping services are required year round.

Employment projections data for grounds maintenance workers, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Grounds maintenance workers

37-3000 1,282,000 1,359,600 6 77,600 [XLSX]

Landscaping and groundskeeping workers

37-3011 1,167,800 1,239,600 6 71,700 [XLSX]

Pesticide handlers, sprayers, and applicators, vegetation

37-3012 36,400 37,800 4 1,400 [XLSX]

Tree trimmers and pruners

37-3013 53,200 56,200 6 3,000 [XLSX]

Grounds maintenance workers, all other

37-3019 24,500 26,100 6 1,600 [XLSX]

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of grounds maintenance workers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2015 MEDIAN PAY Help
Agricultural workers

Agricultural Workers

Agricultural workers maintain the quality of farms, crops, and livestock by operating machinery and doing physical labor under the supervision of farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers.

See How to Become One $20,090
Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers

Farmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural Managers

Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers operate establishments that produce crops, livestock, and dairy products.

High school diploma or equivalent $64,170
Forest and conservation workers

Forest and Conservation Workers

Forest and conservation workers measure and improve the quality of forests. Under the supervision of foresters and forest and conservation technicians, they develop, maintain, and protect forests.

High school diploma or equivalent $26,190
Landscape architects

Landscape Architects

Landscape architects design parks and the outdoor spaces of campuses, recreational facilities, private homes, and other open areas.

Bachelor's degree $63,810
Logging workers

Logging Workers

Logging workers harvest thousands of acres of forests each year. The timber they harvest provides the raw material for many consumer goods and industrial products.

High school diploma or equivalent $36,210

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about tree trimmers and pruners, including certification, visit

International Society of Arboriculture

Tree Care Industry Association

For information about landscaping and groundskeeping workers, visit

Professional Grounds Management Society

National Association of Landscape Professionals

For information about becoming a licensed pesticide applicator, contact your state’s licensing official.

O*NET

Grounds Maintenance Workers, All Other

Landscaping and Groundskeeping Workers

Pesticide Handlers, Sprayers, and Applicators, Vegetation

Tree Trimmers and Pruners

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Grounds Maintenance Workers,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/building-and-grounds-cleaning/grounds-maintenance-workers.htm (visited December 10, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. This tab may also provide information on earnings in the major industries employing the occupation.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's Career InfoNet.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2014

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2014, which is the base year of the 2014-24 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2014-24

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.