How to Become a Florist and Floral Designer

At the fundamental level, Florists and Floral Designers arrange, style, sell and cut flowers. However, those responsibilities are just the tip of the iceberg for this in-demand industry. Floral arrangements are a versatile and necessary part of any event, and their presence is essential for multiple functions. Whether for weddings, funerals, birthdays, or any other large gathering, using flowers as decorations has been a long-standing tradition throughout the years.
Aside from utilizing these colorful displays as event decorations, flowers can also be arranged into breathtaking bouquets and other designs that allow them to be carried or worn on the body. These arrangements add welcome touches of festivity and fun to any event. They also add a dash of comfort and serenity to solemn circumstances such as funerals. Whatever the need for these floral necessities, each arrangement is carefully crafted and beautifully handmade by Florists or Floral Designers.
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Floral Designers are talented, skilled, and possess a creative eye for arranging flowers in unique and distinct ways. Although it may look easy to the untrained eye, designing flower arrangements takes time, effort, and skill. Much goes into arrangements before they are transformed into the beautiful displays we see at weddings and parties. To create their masterpieces, Florists have to undergo extensive training, practice, and experience in flower designing. Most Florists start by applying to and doing basic tasks in floral shops to get a feel for the industry. While there, they gain valuable first-hand experience before pursuing further studies or applying for certifications.
If you enjoy working with colorful flowers and have a creative eye for unique styles and arrangements, then becoming a Florist or Floral Designer might be the perfect job for you. Although it takes hard work and long hours, Floral Designing can lead to a fulfilling and rewarding career for the right person. To figure out if a Floral Designing career is for you, here are some of the primary duties and responsibilities you can expect to perform as a Florist:  
  • Starting your day extra early to be able to pick out the freshest flowers
  • Managing heavy workloads during holidays and special occasions
  • Putting in hours of physical work every day, especially during peak seasons
  • Staying in low-temperature working environments for most of the day
  • Working with a host of different clients and suppliers
  • Attending training sessions and gaining hands-on experience
  • Handling intense organizing and planning for proposals, inventory, and execution
  • Remaining calm and level-headed during unexpected and stressful situations that may arise
  • Willing to be a lifetime learner and staying up-to-date with current trends

Certifications and Requirements to Become a Florist and Floral Designer

The American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) is the largest national organization that recognizes and certifies professionals in this career. Although certification is not a requirement to practice in this field or to work as a Florist, it can be a considerable advantage to those who are interested in pursuing a career in Floral Designing. Aside from the standardized level of competency and skill it establishes, acquiring a certification would also set you apart from other Florists and give you an edge when attracting clients. The AIFD awards two levels of certifications in Floral Designing: the Certified Floral Designer (CFD) and an Accredited Member of the AIFD.
According to the AIFD, there are three ways you can earn an internationally recognized Certified Floral Designer (CFD) certification, which are:

  • Successfully take and pass a floral design education program from an AIFD Education Partner school or approved State Floral Association, and (2) take and pass the Professional Floral Design Evaluation (PFDE) online examination from AIFD with a grade of 80 percent or higher.
  • Take and pass the Professional Floral Design Evaluation (PFDE) online examination from AIFD with a grade of 80 percent or higher and (2) participate in the annual, 4-hour, hands-on design evaluation of the PFDE.
  • Participate in and achieve an average score of no less than 7.0 in the SAIFD Student Competition held at the annual Symposium and (2) take and pass the Professional Floral Design Evaluation (PFDE) online examination from AIFD with a grade no lower than 80 percent.
There is only one way to become a licensed Accredited Member of the AIFD, which requires you to:

  • Enroll as a Candidate for both parts of the Professional Floral Design Evaluation (PFDE).
  • Take and pass the first part of the PFDE, which is the online examination, with a score of 80 percent or higher.
  • Participate in the annual, 4-hour, hands-on design evaluation of the PFDE and successfully create unique designs in the five provided categories.
Both of these levels have continuing education requirements that professionals must adhere to in order to maintain their certifications. This can be achieved by enrolling in various educational programs related to floral designing and regularly attending annual Symposiums.
For those planning to establish their own business providing Floral Designing services to clients, it would be a great advantage to take university courses related to Business Management, Marketing, and Accounting. Becoming a business owner is a whole other field in addition to Floristry, and these courses can provide the necessary knowledge and skills to keep your business up and running.

Where to Get Relevant Education to Become a Florist

Although there are currently no educational requirements needed to work in this field, most employers would hire those who have High School or GED diplomas. Aside from this, several schools and universities around the country offer courses related to Floral Designing that would give you the necessary skills, knowledge, and hands-on training to become a successful Florist. Here are several schools to get you started on your journey:

  • Bucks County Community College in Newtown, PA, offers a comprehensive certificate program in Floral Design. They are an AIFD Educational Partner. The 114-hour program can be completed in as little as nine months, regardless of your experience in the field.
  • D Institute of Floristry in Dallas, TX, offers classes and workshops ranging from one-day courses to three-day workshop retreats. They are an AIFD Educational Partner and hold morning and evening classes for beginner, intermediate, and advanced students.
  • Floral Design Institute in Portland, OR, offers Floral Design classes, certifications, and workshops. They are an AIFD Educational Partner and provide programs that are fully online-based, as well as advanced classes for those who are already experienced in the field.
  • Houston School of Flowers in Houston, TX, offers intensive training classes and workshops. They are an AIFD Educational Partner and have classes specializing in different categories such as wedding design, sympathy design, and floral shop management.
  • Koehler & Dramm Institute of Floristryin Minneapolis, MN, offers specialized classes, workshops, and short courses. They are an AIFD Educational Partner and specialize in design categories such as events, holidays, and sympathy. They cater to students of all experience levels, who can earn various certifications and a Diploma of Floral Arts & Sciences.
  • Las Vegas School of Floral Design in Las Vegas, NV, offers workshops and certified courses in both basic and advanced Floral Design. They are an AIFD Educational Partner, and their comprehensive curriculums already include fundamental designs for various occasions in addition to the fundamentals of handling floral arrangements.
  • New York Botanical Garden in Bronx, NY, offers different classes and a prestigious Floral Design Certificate. They are an AIFD Educational Partner, and their certification course includes teaching not only the basics in mastering floral styles and designs for all occasions but also practical business foundations for establishing your own floral business.
  • Palmer School of Floral Design in Fort Collins, CO, offers 25-hour courses in various Floral Design topics and techniques. They are an AIFD Educational Partner, and their certification program includes four intensive classes that are limited to 15 students each, leading to a more focused and effective learning environment.

Job Outlook and Salary of Florists and Floral Designers

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that there are around 36,810 Floral Designers employed nationwide as of this writing, most of whom are employed in floral shops. The career outlook for this job is at a decline of 20 percent, which means that fewer people are likely to become employed as Floral Designers within this decade. Despite the declining employment trend, however, there will still be an average of 2,600 employment opportunities projected to arise each year.
The average hourly pay that Florists and Floral Designers earn is $14.01 per hour, which amounts to around $29,140 per year. Higher-earning professionals reported annual wages amounting up to $43,150. Most Floral Designers work full-time hours, with some having to work overtime during holidays and peak seasons.

Florist and Floral Designer Career Opportunities

Florists create beautiful art and mesmerizing displays with their flower arrangements, which have historically been invaluable contributions to occasions such as weddings and funerals. With the rising trend of events and celebrations worldwide, Floral Designers are in pretty high demand. Floral shops and markets across the country are looking to hire competent and creative Floral Designers and Assistants, especially in California and Florida, which, incidentally, are the top two states for floriculture production.