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.