Is this you?

You are a Groundsman reading this at the crew lunchroom table.  Perhaps you are just passing time during your break at the job you are happy doing for the rest of your life....or maybe you are reading this for another reason.

You may be lacking challenges, maybe feeling the effects of a physical job in the elements, or may need a better paycheck.  Perhaps you may be experienced at what you do and are now ready for the next move up.  You feel you may have the skill-set necessary to move into management as Assistant/Foreman and eventually Superintendent/Parks Manager. 

There may be a Turf Manager above you ready to move on or retire, leaving openings below.  Or, an opening comes up at a site that fits you.  Odds of this are pretty good these days.  A big generation of Boomers are retiring, with many more to come.  A casual survey indicates that 36% of BC Turf Managers are now within 5 years of retirement age.  Some younger ones are moving on to sales or other industries.  In 2017 so far, there have been 39 excellent entry-level management jobs advertised in BC that you could have moved up to right now.  Likely quite a few more have been awarded directly by personal referrals that never made it to the ads.

KPU Turf student Duncan Longridge volunteering with Bear Mountain crew at Pacific Links Open - image courtesy KPU..

If you are making an hourly wage of $15-25, your annual income is about $30-50,000 assuming you work year-round.  Salaries for Turf Managers jobs vary, but a rough guide might be:

Assistant/Parks Foreman:  $40-70,000 Superintendent/Parks Manager:  $50-100,000+. 

You likely know what people hiring for these positions are looking for: several years of relevant experience with working knowledge of irrigation, fertility, projects and spraying, some training and leadership roles, a proven strong work ethic, as viewed by your supervisors, involvement in professional associations and activities.  A Turf Management diploma is usually listed as a minimum educational requirement, typically the difference between interview and no interview.

KPU Turf students Carolyn Reitzel, Kevin Robertson and Ksenia Thurston with Surrey Golf Club Superintendent, Steve Peardon - image courtesy KPU

Horticulture education in North America has historically been cyclical, with enrollments at many schools at generally low levels right now.  When you consider that there is and will be proportionately less Turf grads coupled with an increase in job openings, your prospects for moving into management with a Turf diploma have never looked better. 

Guelph University in Ontario offers a 2-year Turf diploma and a 4-year Turf degree. Olds College in Alberta has a 1-year certificate, a 2-year diploma and a 4-year degree. 

KPU in Langley is B.C.'s only program, offering a 2-year Turf Management diploma. Students may attend full-time or part-time. Grants and student loans are available and EI sponsorship is possible. Expect small class sizes, year-round Field Lab, applied learning, close industry contact and personal career guidance.

KPU Turfies Josh Carlsen, Matt Cooper and Stan Kazymerchyk in vintage finery at Interior BCGSA 50th in Penticton - image courtesy KPU

Discuss career advancement with your mentors. Assess your strengths and weaknesses intowards moving up.  Recognize that turf education is key to a quick rise and to career success. Check out the school websites and talk with their faculty. Take charge of your future.

Stan Kazymerchyk

Turf Management Instructor
KPU (Kwantlen Polytechnic University)