Floral designers use flowers and other plants to create beautiful objects for decoration. The work of floral designers is often featured in weddings, religious ceremonies, and other special occasions. The designs created by these artists may include other objects like balloons and toys. Floral creations may be a product of the imagination of the designer or the whims of the customer. A good floral designer must be able to invent designs and follow instructions. Believe it or not, there are distance learning programs for learning floral design.
The traditional setting for floral design is a florist. These specialty shops deal exclusively with flower acquisition and arrangement, and often are contracted to create large installations for big events. Many florists are affiliated with caterers and event planners, from whom they derive much of their business. Florists also keep some standard designs on hand in the shop for walk-in customers. A floral designer who works in a florist will have access to the best equipment and materials.
Increasingly, however, floral design is taking place in the flower sections of large grocery stores. There are more jobs available in this sector, but the working conditions may not be as good. Grocery stores often do not stock high-quality materials and may require floral designers to perform duties outside of their area of expertise.
Floral designers usually enjoy their job, and in most cases get to work in a clean and safe environment. There are some sharp objects used in floral design, and there is some risk of allergic reaction, but in general this is a very safe profession. Floral designers who gain a significant amount of experience may be given more control over the designs they create. This can be a great career choice for creative men and women who have an interest in flowers.
While floral design does not require college training, many successful designers have degrees from community colleges or universities. There are a few schools in the United States that offer degrees in floral design, but many designers major in horticulture or floriculture. Aspiring designers will benefit from coursework that covers subjects like botany, soil management, and microbiology. In addition, floral designers will make good use of courses in business administration and marketing.
It is more common for a floral designer to obtain certification from a specialized floral or vocational school. Many times, candidates must complete an accreditation examination at the end of the program. The most typical examination is the one offered by the American Institute of Floral Designers, which combines a written test of terminology with a practical demonstration of skills, in which the candidate must complete five different floral designs: funeral, table arrangement, wedding, wearable design, and freestyle. Candidates who earn this certification have an easier time landing a job.
The most common route for aspiring floral designers, however, is to take an entry-level position with a retail florist. Experience is the most important factor in professional development in this field. Most of those who are successful toil for a long time in relatively low-level positions, but ultimately open their own businesses or move on to more creative positions with event planners or larger organizations.
The average annual income for floral designers is $23,230. About 10 percent of designers make more than $35,000 a year, but another 10 percent make less than $16,000. Floral designers tend to make more when they are employed by grocery stores ($25,160) than when they work for florists ($22,710).
One upside to the relatively low income earned by floral designers is that there is little competition for jobs. This trend is expected to continue in the future. A steady decrease in the price of flowers is expected to diminish slightly the demand for floral designers. Also, some industry analysts believe that consumers will use fewer elaborate floral decorations in the future. The number of occasions calling for elaborate floral arrangements may diminish, but the scale of certain events, like wedding and graduation ceremonies, is expected to increase, which will create more demand for flowers. To some extent, traditional florists will be crowded out by grocery stores. However, some grocery stores will probably begin to employ full-time floral designers as well. As one would expect, the demand for flowers rises and falls on the strength of the economy, so the number of available jobs for floral designers is subject to rapid change.