Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil, but in a water solution that is fortified with nutrients. Hydroponics reduces the space needed to grow plants and because plants are grown in greenhouses, allows these plants to be grown outside of their regular season. This is a fairly new technology, but the industry is steadily expanding to include new plants and increasing production of crops such as lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries, leafy green and herbs.
If you enjoy working with plants, then you might find that a career in hydroponics crop production is right for you. You can work in a large-scale production facility that includes several types of crops or you might prefer to specialise in growing one crop in a small-scale operation. If your area has a growing demand for hydroponics crops, you can start your own greenhouse and be your own boss. Some areas already have large hydroponics operations, in which case you can get a job working for someone else in a hydroponics greenhouse. In addition to caring for plants, greenhouses also need employees with knowledge about how hydroponics systems work. You could install new hydroponics systems or travel to different greenhouses to make repairs on existing hydroponics systems. A bachelor's degree will prove helpful in getting started in a hydroponics crop production career, but some greenhouse owners might be willing to take on apprentices.
If you have knowledge of hydroponics and advanced degrees in a horticulture field, you might enjoy a career in hydroponics education. You can work with students in colleges, vocational schools or high schools, helping them to grow their own plants using hydroponics. As an educator, you will be able to pass your knowledge on to future educations and help to further advance the growing field of hydroponics. Depending on the size of the institutions in your area and the interest in hydroponics, you may be required to teach other classes in different areas of horticulture. Another option is to seek part-time employment through several different schools, in which case you would have to travel to different institutions throughout the work week. If teaching school doesn't sound appealing, you could also travel the country to teach workshops in hydroponics to established farmers and greenhouse operators.
Research and Development
As with any new technology, the field of hydroponics is constantly growing and evolving. Those with a strong scientific background might find a career in hydroponics research and development. A career in this field would require you to test new equipment and develop new and improved hydroponics systems. You might perform research and tests to find better ways to grow crops using different nutrient solutions in hydroponics systems. Hydroponics growers will look to people in this field to find answers to current growing problems and provide better equipment for future generations of hydroponics growers.
Sales and Advising
Companies that manufacture and distribute hydroponics systems rely on employees to market and sell their equipment. Employees in this career field will need to stay up to date with the most current trends in the hydroponics fields and relay that information to growers. A career in this field would require you to travel to different hydroponics operations to sell new equipment. You would also help your customers to find solutions to problems with their existing equipment. If a grower is just getting established, you would provide advice about the type of equipment that would be most beneficial to his operation. You might also be expected to set up at horticultural trade shows where farmers come to sample all the latest technology in the horticulture field.