Find Floral Design Classes Near You
Floral Design Career Center
On this site, you can learn how to become a floral designer, by finding the right training and choosing the best path for you. We list classes by state and provide the local information you need to get started on this highly creative career path.
Career Options in Floral Design
Traditional Jobs for Florists
Floral designers play an important role in many of life’s big occasions. Many florists work out of a traditional stand-alone flower shop, which orders cut flowers and foliage from a wholesaler. They sell pre-made and custom arrangements. Traditional florists also work on location with wedding venues and funeral parlors managing displays, boutonnieres and corsages, and bouquets. This work in particular requires more than just floral skills, of course. Floral professionals working on site at events such as these should expect to work long weekend hours, and to work calmly and professionally with clients who may be under a great deal of stress. Other events handled by traditional florists include conventions and receptions for political, professional or charity organizations.
Certain times of the year are very busy for florists. Depending on local demand, they may need to work with temporary floral assistants and extra drivers to meet clients’ needs for Valentine’s day, Mothers’ Day, local graduation and recital season, and prom season.
Other florists work in shops located within other facilities, such as hospitals, university student centers and grocery stores. They may serve a different clientele (more casual purchasers) and operate with more limited stock. Challenges for florists operating in these environments include operating with limited space to store stock, and properly anticipating daily demand to avoid wastage.
More Unusual Jobs for Florists
If you are self-driven, comfortable working in other peoples’ homes and not afraid of heights, starting a business or working with a business decorating peoples’ houses for holidays and events may be a fulfilling job for you. Many upscale families enjoy entertaining during the holidays or even opening up their homes for charity tours. These grand homes require more than just a wreath and a string of lights, though. Clients expect lighting on and around the house (including large trees) and flowerbeds planted with holiday-appropriate selections. Indoors, think multiple themed Christmas trees, coordinated wreaths and garlands, grand centerpieces and more. This work tends to be seasonal, so take that into consideration when developing a business plan. Some owners will own their own equipment and re-usable décor, but others may prefer that you supply everything. For this and plants/greenery, you will need to consider storage for when items are not in use.
Commercial plant design firms serve a similar purpose, but for businesses. Many offices, shopping centers, restaurants and other commercial facilities like featuring live plants and foliage as part of their décor but don’t have the know-how, time or even ambient light for proper maintenance. Commercial plant designers set up and maintain displays, often replacing tired-looking plants with fresh ones
Have you ever heard of a traveling florist? Some larger cruise ships have an onboard flower shop. They are responsible for preparing pre-ordered arrangements purchased by guests for their cabins, arrangements for dining and reception areas, and even weddings that take place on the ship. Another specialized florist job for those with the travel bug is destination wedding florist—travel ahead of the wedding party to source materials near the location, and work on location to be part of a very special event. Challenges may include local transportation and customs (such as limited business hours) and language barriers.
Think of some of your favorite movies and TV shows. Many feature striking visual details including costumes, makeup, set design … flowers? Every soap opera wedding and funeral, lavish estate or sleek modern home featuring elegant minimal arrangements has to be handled by a floral professional. Some are certainly artificial, but in today’s HD environment, sometimes only the ‘real thing’ will do. Florists for the entertainment industry must have a knowledge of floral history for accuracy in period pieces and be able to choose and refresh pieces that will be subjected to hot lights.
Speaking of lavish estates, many large mansions and historic manors open to the public maintain their own in-house floral team. A job like this would entail knowledge of the traditions of the estate, including historically significant flowers and foliage, and perhaps working in tandem with staff gardeners to coordinate indoor and outdoor floral features. If the home is also residential, such as the White House, floral staff will create arrangements specifically to honor foreign dignitaries, keeping in mind certain colors, shapes or flowers that may have particular significance in other cultures. Large museums also may employ full-time floral staff, who will coordinate arrangements to compliment special exhibits.
Floral design is a unique and ephemeral art form. Like cake decorating, so much work goes into a creation that is destined to only last for a matter of days. With the right skills and ambition, it’s a job that can take you anywhere you want to go!
Becoming a Floral Designer
Floral designers work with cut flowers, fresh foliage, other natural plant-based materials such as seed pods, twigs and mosses, dried flowers and artificial flowers to create traditional arrangements, wreaths, corsages, centerpieces and more. Florists source raw materials from wholesalers and use a variety of tools, materials such as wires and ribbons, vases and foam to form their creations.
Floral designers can work at a variety of locations. Most people think of stand-alone flower shops, but florists also work in grocery stores, hospitals, resorts and even cruise ships. Craft stores such as JoAnn, Michael’s and Hobby Lobby have full-time florists who work with artificial flowers to create custom wreaths and other arrangements for customers and to teach in-house workshops for amateurs who want to make their own arrangements.
Floral Design Training
A high school diploma is all it takes to get started in floral design. Most floral design training programs are through career or technical schools or freestanding floral design schools, although some community colleges do offer associate’s degrees. Training is available in-person or online, with courses available at different price points and lengths. Certifications are also available but by no means necessary. Aspiring floral designers are sometimes hired with no experience or training at all, but a portfolio showcasing some of your best work can help you land your dream job.
A Typical Work Day
A florist’s day usually starts early, receiving deliveries of flowers and other perishables from wholesalers. Pre-ordered arrangements will be made for delivery and pick-up, and a few arrangements will be made for walk-in customers. Floral arrangements will be refreshed with new water, and wilting foliage or flowers will be replaced. Employees will make note of equipment and supplies that may be running in short supply and prepare for seasonal needs and displays. Generally, the store will close at the same time as other local businesses.
When a florist is covering an event such as a reception, wedding or funeral, floral designers should expect much longer hours. Staff may stay late to work on arrangements the night before the event and will arrive early at the venue to set up. Working events as a floral designer requires professional dress and demeanor, the ability to carry heavy and possibly fragile arrangements (and to repair them if need be), and an ability to think on your feet in case of unexpected situations. Whether or not you stay to the end of the event to clean up or collect materials will depend on arrangements made with the client and venue.
Social media has become nearly indispensable for artists of all kinds, particularly floral designers. Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube are great ways to keep up with global floral trends, promote your own work, and learn or share techniques and network with other designers. Well-managed social media accounts can help you find new clients or get a new job. You can distinguish yourself from the competition by picking up a new floral style that hasn’t yet reached your area. You may not have thought a DSLR camera was an important piece of equipment for a floral designer, but it’s something you might want to put in your budget, or at least on your wish-list.
Most floral design jobs pay hourly, between $12-13 per hour. The good news is that training is relatively quick and affordable, and you can even work at a florist’s, learning on the job while taking courses.
This career does not have projected positive job growth, so if it is something you really want to do, be sure you are committed before investing too much. If you would like to earn more money as a floral designer, you may want to seek employment with more high-end florists or, once you have a good idea of how the business is run, set out on your own (which of course comes with risks).
A successful floral designer in a competitive environment keeps up with current trends while understanding local tastes and finds creative ways to meet clients’ needs while working with their budgetary and time constraints. Floral designers are one of the cornerstones of a community–they play a role in weddings, births, illnesses and deaths. If you come through for your clients in their time of need, they will be loyal to you for generations.