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Summary

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Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iggxNwURWLY.
Quick Facts: Grounds Maintenance Workers
2021 Median Pay $35,460 per year
$17.05 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, 2020 1,226,900
Job Outlook, 2020-30 8% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2020-30 92,600

What Grounds Maintenance Workers Do

Grounds maintenance workers install and maintain landscapes, prune trees or shrubs, and do other tasks to ensure that vegetation is attractive, orderly, and safe.

Work Environment

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

How to Become a Grounds Maintenance Worker

Grounds maintenance workers typically do not need a formal educational credential and are trained on the job. States may require licensing for workers who apply pesticides and fertilizers.

Pay

The median hourly wage for grounds maintenance workers was $17.05 in May 2021.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of grounds maintenance workers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 173,200 openings for grounds maintenance workers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

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 install and maintain landscapes, prune trees or shrubs, and do other tasks to ensure that vegetation is attractive, orderly, and safe.

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 or branches
  • Plant flowers, trees, shrubs, and other plants
  • Apply pesticides, herbicides, or other treatments to plants or soil
  • Water lawns, landscapes, and gardens
  • Monitor and maintain plant health

Grounds maintenance workers do a variety of tasks to achieve pleasant and functional environments. They care for outdoor grounds of businesses, homes, parks, and other spaces and for indoor plants in hotels, malls, botanical gardens, and other commercial and public facilities. They generally work under the direction of a landscaping, lawn service, or groundskeeping supervisor.

Depending on their specific tasks, grounds maintenance workers may use a variety of handheld tools (such as such as garden shears, spray applicators, and shovels) and power equipment (including lawnmowers, chain saws, and backhoes).

The following are examples of types of grounds maintenance workers:

Landscaping workers plant flowers, shrubs, trees, and other vegetation to create new outdoor spaces or to 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 attend to a variety of commercial and residential settings, such as apartment buildings, homes, hotels and motels, office buildings, and shopping malls.

Groundskeeping workers, also called groundskeepers, focus on property upkeep. Their duties include maintaining plants and trees, raking and mulching leaves, and laying sod. They also care for ornamental features, such as fountains, planters, and benches; clear snow and debris from walkways and parking lots; and tend to groundskeeping equipment. They work on many of the same settings that landscaping workers do, as well as on athletic fields, cemeteries, and other lands that need maintenance. 

Groundskeeping workers who care for athletic fields keep natural and artificial turf in top condition, mark boundaries, and may paint turf with team logos and names before events. They regularly mow, water, fertilize, and aerate natural fields and ensure that the underlying soil drains properly. They also vacuum and disinfect artificial turf to prevent growth of harmful bacteria and replace worn turf or cushioning periodically.

In parks and recreation facilities, groundskeepers care for lawns, trees, and shrubs. They also maintain playgrounds; clean buildings and inspect, repair, and paint them as needed; and keep parking lots, picnic areas, and other spaces free of litter. They may erect and dismantle snow fences and maintain swimming pools.

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

Greenskeepers maintain golf courses. Although similar overall to that of groundskeepers, their work on turf maintenance may be more complex. They also periodically relocate holes on putting greens and maintain canopies, benches, and tee markers along the course.

Pesticide handlers, sprayers, and applicators apply herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides to plants or soil to prevent or control weeds, insects, and diseases. They inspect lawns for problems and apply chemical or other treatments to stimulate growth and prevent or control threats to cultivated plants.

Tree trimmers and pruners, also called arborists, cut away dead or excess branches from trees or shrubs to clear utility lines, roads, sidewalks, and other areas. Some specialize in diagnosing and treating tree diseases. Others specialize in pruning, trimming, and shaping ornamental trees and shrubs.

Work Environment About this section

Grounds maintenance workers
Tree trimmers and pruners use chainsaws, chippers, and stump grinders while on the job.

Grounds maintenance workers held about 1.2 million jobs in 2020. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up grounds maintenance workers was distributed as follows:

Landscaping and groundskeeping workers 1,117,800
Tree trimmers and pruners 66,400
Pesticide handlers, sprayers, and applicators, vegetation 27,300
Grounds maintenance workers, all other 15,300

The largest employers of grounds maintenance workers were as follows:

Services to buildings and dwellings 49%
Self-employed workers 20
Government 8
Amusement, gambling, and recreation industries 6
Educational services; state, local, and private 3

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

Injuries and Illnesses

Grounds maintenance work may be dangerous. Workers who use 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 and grounds maintenance workers, all other, have some of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. ("All other" titles represent occupations with a wide range of characteristics that do not fit into any of the other detailed occupations.)

Although fatalities are uncommon, tree trimmers and pruners experience one of the highest rates of fatalities of all occupations. These workers are often at great heights and must use fall protection gear and wear hardhats and goggles for most activities.

Work Schedules

Most grounds maintenance workers are full time, and their work schedules may vary. These workers may be busier or work longer hours in the spring, summer, and fall, when planting, mowing, and trimming activities are most frequent.

Some jobs are seasonal. However, grounds maintenance workers sometimes provide other services during the winter months, such as snow removal.

How to Become a Grounds Maintenance Worker About this section

Grounds maintenance workers
Some workers study topics such as landscape design or horticulture.

Grounds maintenance workers typically do not need a formal educational credential and are trained on the job. States may require licensing for workers who apply pesticides or fertilizers.

Education

Entry-level grounds maintenance jobs typically have no formal education requirements, although employers may prefer to hire candidates who have a high school diploma or equivalent. Prospective grounds maintenance workers may benefit from studying topics such as landscape design, horticulture, or arboriculture.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Most states require licensing for workers who apply pesticides. Licensing for workers who handle fertilizers varies by state. Obtaining a license usually involves passing a test on the proper use and disposal of insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides. Check with your state’s licensing official for more information.

Although professional certification is not required, it demonstrates competency and reliability for prospective clients and employers. For example, the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) and the Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) offer credentials in landscaping and grounds maintenance for workers at various experience levels. The Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) and the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) offer certifications for tree care workers.

Training

Grounds maintenance workers typically need 1 month or less of on-the-job training to learn the skills they need, including how to plant and maintain areas and how to use mowers, trimmers, leaf blowers, small tractors, and other equipment. Pesticide sprayers, handlers, and applicators may need additional training that lasts up to 1 year. Large institutional employers such as golf courses, university campuses, and municipalities may supplement on-the-job training with instruction in horticulture, arboriculture, urban forestry, insect and disease diagnosis, tree climbing, or small-engine repair.

Advancement

Grounds maintenance workers who have other qualifications, such as formal education or several years of related experience, may become crew leaders or advance into other supervisory positions. Some workers use their experience to start their own business, such as a landscaping company.

Important Qualities

Ability to work at heights. Tree trimmers and pruners and other grounds maintenance workers must be comfortable working high off the ground when cutting tree limbs and branches.

Communication skills. Grounds maintenance workers must be able to convey information and instructions to clients, customers, and supervisors.

Dexterity. Grounds maintenance workers must have good eye, foot, and hand coordination when using dangerous or heavy equipment such as backhoes, mowers, and tractors.

Physical stamina. Grounds maintenance workers must be able to do strenuous labor for long periods of time, occasionally in extreme heat or cold.

Physical strength. These workers may need to be able to lift heavy equipment or supplies.

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

Visualization. Grounds maintenance workers must be able to imagine how plants, shrubs, trees, and other landscaping will look before planting or trimming.

Pay About this section

Grounds Maintenance Workers

Median hourly wages, May 2021

Total, all occupations

$22.00

Grounds maintenance workers

$17.05

Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations

$14.54

 

The median hourly wage for grounds maintenance workers was $17.05 in May 2021. 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 $11.68, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $23.18.

Median hourly wages for grounds maintenance workers in May 2021 were as follows:

Tree trimmers and pruners $22.58
Pesticide handlers, sprayers, and applicators, vegetation 18.40
Grounds maintenance workers, all other 17.57
Landscaping and groundskeeping workers 16.55

In May 2021, 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 $18.24
Services to buildings and dwellings 17.46
Government 15.97
Amusement, gambling, and recreation industries 14.20

Most grounds maintenance workers are full time, and their work schedules may vary. These workers may be busier or work longer hours in the spring, summer, and fall, when planting, mowing, and trimming activities are most frequent.

Some jobs are seasonal. However, grounds maintenance workers sometimes provide other services during the winter months, such as snow removal.

Job Outlook About this section

Grounds Maintenance Workers

Percent change in employment, projected 2020-30

Grounds maintenance workers

8%

Total, all occupations

8%

Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations

7%

 

Overall employment of grounds maintenance workers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 173,200 openings for grounds maintenance workers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Landscaping and groundskeeping workers will be needed to keep up with increasing demand for lawn care and landscaping services from aging or busy homeowners and from large institutions, such as universities and corporate campuses.

Demand is also likely to increase for tree trimmers and pruners from municipalities that plant more trees in urban areas.

Employment projections data for grounds maintenance workers, 2020-30
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2020 Projected Employment, 2030 Change, 2020-30 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Grounds maintenance workers

37-3000 1,226,900 1,319,500 8 92,600 Get data

Landscaping and groundskeeping workers

37-3011 1,117,800 1,202,800 8 85,000 Get data

Pesticide handlers, sprayers, and applicators, vegetation

37-3012 27,300 29,600 8 2,300 Get data

Tree trimmers and pruners

37-3013 66,400 70,500 6 4,100 Get data

Grounds maintenance workers, all other

37-3019 15,300 16,600 9 1,300 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) 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 OEWS 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.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop 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 on Entry-Level Education 2021 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Agricultural workers Agricultural Workers

Agricultural workers maintain crops and tend livestock.

See How to Become One $29,680
Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers Farmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural Managers

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

High school diploma or equivalent $73,060
Forest and conservation workers Forest and Conservation Workers

Forest and conservation workers measure and improve the quality of forests.

High school diploma or equivalent $30,550
Janitors and building cleaners Janitors and Building Cleaners

Janitors and building cleaners keep many types of buildings clean, sanitary, orderly, and in good condition.

No formal educational credential $29,760
Landscape architects Landscape Architects

Landscape architects design parks and other outdoor spaces.

Bachelor's degree $67,950
Logging workers Logging Workers

Logging workers harvest forests to provide the raw material for many consumer goods and industrial products.

High school diploma or equivalent $46,330
Pest control workers Pest Control Workers

Pest control workers remove insects, rodents, and other pests that infest buildings and surrounding areas.

High school diploma or equivalent $37,540

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

National Association of Landscape Professionals

Professional Grounds Management Society

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, Grounds Maintenance Workers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/building-and-grounds-cleaning/grounds-maintenance-workers.htm (visited July 15, 2022).

Last Modified Date: Friday, June 17, 2022

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. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

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

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).

2021 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 and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2021, the median annual wage for all workers was $45,760.

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, 2020

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2020, which is the base year of the 2020-30 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2020-30

The projected percent change in employment from 2020 to 2030. The average growth rate for all occupations is 8 percent.

Employment Change, 2020-30

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

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 2020-30

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2020 to 2030.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2020 to 2030.

2021 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 and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2021, the median annual wage for all workers was $45,760.