A groundsman is responsible for maintaining sports grounds such as rugby and football pitches, cricket grounds, golf courses, horse racing tracks, school playing fields and public parks. The groundsman's typical duties include applying nutrients to soil and turf, mowing grass, maintaining irrigation and drainage systems, operating gardening equipment and marking out sports pitches.
Candidates with experience in horticulture can secure work as unskilled groundsmen without any academic qualifications. Once employed, you can study part-time to increase your skill-level, which will allow you to apply for positions as a fully qualified, skilled groundsman.
To become qualified as a groundsman, candidates will need to complete relevant courses such as a Certificate or Diploma in Horticulture (Levels 2 and 3) or a Certificate or Diploma in Sports and Amenity Turf Maintenance. The entry requirements for study vary by region and by specific courses, so enquire directly at your preferred colleges for further information.
Some groundsmen enter the profession through apprenticeship schemes. The availability of such schemes in your area will depend on the general state of the job market and the specific skills that employers are looking for from groundsman.
Once employed as a groundsman, most employers provide on-the-job training. Some employers will also offer scope for you to increase your skillset by attending college on a day-release basis. This allows candidates to attain certificates and diplomas in relevant fields as a springboard towards future career development. Candidates can also complete the Institute of Groundsmanship, a programme consisting of short courses at four different skill levels: foundation, intermediate, advanced and manager.
Groundsmen can also take on career development by pursuing higher education qualifications such as BTEC (Business Technology and Education Council) courses or foundation degrees in relevant subjects such as Turf Management.
In addition to academic requirements, an able groundsman should be physically fit and capable of lifting and using heavy equipment. The ability to interpret detailed drawings of land areas and a rudimentary knowledge of using and maintaining machinery are also key requirements. Groundsmen should also have an in-depth knowledge of health and safety regulations and be prepared to work outside during inclement weather.
According to the National Careers Service website, starting salaries for unskilled groundsmen are around £15,000 to £18,000 a year. The salary potential for a skilled groundsman is in the region of £23,000 with a head groundsman capable of earning up to almost £32,000. Bonus schemes and overtime may also be provided, and accommodation is provided for certain roles.