How to Become a Floral Designer in Illinois
Floral designers enjoy working with customers and bringing their visions to life by crafting arrangements like bouquets, centerpieces, displays and much more. A florist may be asked to create a simple corsage for a prom or a large arrangement for a wedding, funeral or graduation, for example. Each product is unique in its own way and will require use of your design skills and attentiveness. Your intention and precision will allow you to ensure that your finished product is in line with each customer’s original request.
You will need to communicate well with clients, understand how to use flowers in combination with design elements and examine the needs of plants in order to care for them properly. These skills will help you build a successful career as a floral designer.
Requirements for Becoming a Floral Designer in Illinois
Floral designers can rest assured that there are currently no national or statewide regulations governing the field. Individual employers may or may not set the minimum requirement of a high school diploma or GED before deciding to hire a potential candidate.
That said, post-secondary education will allow you to learn the industry in a way that will prepare you for a fruitful career. Certificate and degree programs are available at local colleges or universities and can be completed within one-to-two years. You may also be interested in attending training programs offered by local, regional or national floral design associations.
If you are interested in gaining some hands-on, real-world experience, you should consider seeking an internship with a professional floral designer. You can network with industry colleagues via social media or by attending workshops and garden club meetings. You may find an advanced florist who is willing to mentor you, or a retail flower shop owner who is interested in offering you an apprenticeship opportunity.
Certified Floral Designers (CFDs) have the opportunity to leverage this nationally-recognized credential to receive higher pay or to increase their clientele. This certification is optional and can be used to exemplify your dedication to the craft.
Illinois Schools for Floral Designers
There are many different options available to help you develop the skills necessary to take your career to the next level. Consider one of the options below:
- Illinois State Florists’ Association offers a wide selection of workshops and courses, which take place in-person and online. To become an Illinois Certified Professional Florist (ICPF), students will need to complete a total of 13 classes, eight of which are online and five of which are in-person. A registration fee of $50 is all you need to get started. Other course offerings include boot camps, workshops, presentations and more.
- Kishwaukee College is located in the city of Malta and offers an Associate in Applied Science degree in Horticulture Floral Design. The program will take two years to complete, and tuition is currently about $4,600 per semester for in-state students.
- Black Hawk College is located in the city of Moline and offers a Certificate of Completion in floral design. The program is designed to be completed within 12 months and will cost a total of about $450.
National Certification for Floral Designers in Illinois
The American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) is one of the most popular national organizations for florists. The CFD credential is offered exclusively through this organization and can be earned by doing one of the following:
- Complete a floral design education program at an AIFD Education Partner, an approved State Floral Association or an SAIFD Chapter (AIFD Student Chapter) and score an 80 percent or higher on the Professional Floral Design Evaluation (PFDE) online test.
- Complete the PFDE online test with a score of 80 percent or higher and participate in the hands-on design evaluation.
To confirm your new standing as a CFD, you will receive a certificate, a pin and a listing in the AIFD’s online and print directories.
The AIFD approves education courses offered by the Illinois State Florists’ Association, as well as those offered at Kishwaukee College, which is an SAIFD Chapter. After completing the approved courses, your instructor will need to submit your information directly to the AIFD, notifying them that you are eligible to take the online test to become a CFD. This will also require you to pay a fee of $124.
Alternatively, you can earn the CFD title by participating in the PFDE online test and hands-on design evaluation, which will require a $150 enrollment fee and a $1,550 exam fee.
To maintain your status as a CFD, you’ll be required to pay an annual fee of $124 on or before May 1st each year. You will also be responsible for completing at least 25 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and submitting a renewal form every three years. CEUs can be earned by attending a selection of workshops, presentations, seminars and more.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
According to data presented by the Projections Managing Partnership (PMP), there will be a 7.4 percent decline in the number of floral designers working in Illinois during the 10-year period between 2016 and 2026. The same data show that there were 2,510 florists employed in this state in 2016, and by 2026 this number is expected to fall to 2,320.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) presented data in 2017 that indicated that floral designers in this state earned an average of $12.94 per hour, or $26,910 per year. The top 10 percent of florists working in this state earned about $39,410 during the same year.
Working as a Floral Designer in Illinois
Florists in this state can expect to earn the highest compensation in cities like Chicago, Cicero and Oak Park.
You may find work in the flower department of your local supermarket, floral design studios, retail flower shops, gardens, greenhouses and more. If you would like to make this into a lifelong career, you might consider becoming a freelance florist by growing your own flowers or sourcing flowers locally to fulfill orders from clients. Additionally, you may decide to host your own classes or workshops for other aspiring florists. Use your creativity, innovation and love for the craft to design a successful lifestyle as a floral designer.
Mila Florad Design School
2325 W Huron St, Chicago 60612
Tel: (773) 395-0231
Chicago School Flower of Design
452 North Ashland, Chicago 60622
Tel: (877) 322-5666
Persephone Floral Atelier
503 E 61st St., Chicago 60637
Tel: (872) 588-1005
Danville Area Community College
2000 East Main Street, Danville 61832
Tel: (217) 443-3222
Illinois Valley Community College
815 North Orlando Smith Road, Oglesby 61348
Tel: (815) 224-2720
Black Hawk College
6600 34th Ave., Building 3, Room 378, Moline 61265
Tel: (309) 796-8223
College of Lake County
19351 W. Washington St., Grayslake 60030
Tel: (847) 543-2000
21193 Malta Road, Malta 60150
Tel: (815) 825-2086
Joliet Junior College
1215 Houbolt Road, Joliet 60431
Tel: (815) 729-9020
1s151 Winfield Rd, Wheaton 60189
Tel: (630) 668-5161
jh Events and Flowers
3603 Municipal Drive, McHenry 60050
Tel: (815) 331-8616
Southwestern Illinois College
2500 Carlyle Ave., Belleville 62221
Tel: (618) 235-2700
College of DuPage
425 Fawell Blvd, Glen Ellyn 60137
Tel: (630) 942-2800
Illinois State Florist Association
PO Box 125, Troy 62294
Tel: (815) 791-3888
Richland Community College
One College Part, Decatur 62521
Tel: (217) 875-7200
Kankakee Community College
100 College Drive, Kankakee 60901
Tel: (815) 802-8100