Working as a Florist

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Joan started to work in a florist shop as soon as she left school. After an Apprenticeship and further retail experience, she now owns her own shop in York and hopes to open more shops in the future.

What are your main responsibilities?

I decide what stock to order and make it look fresh and attractive each day. I must look after customers coming into the shop and see that orders are dealt with satisfactorily. I also have the financial responsibility of the shop and must ensure sales are sufficient to cover all expenses, leaving enough for me to live comfortably.

Do you have a typical day?

Not really, as all the customers and their requests are sufficiently different to make each day interesting. Apart from serving customers I have to allocate time to create displays, such as wedding bouquets, buttonholes, floral tributes and wreaths. I also try to build up contracts to supply displays to offices, hotels and shops. I meet a wide variety of people as a result.

What equipment do you use if any?

I use a till for cash and cheques and a computer to check invoices. I also have an automated response machine for instant confirmation of credit card transactions.

What was your route into this job?

I completed a two-year Apprenticeship course at college, which involved training in a florist shop for four days each week plus a day at college. The training involved a variety of tasks, from learning how to arrange flowers into different designs to conditioning flowers and caring for them. It also included how to serve customers and take orders. I then gained further retail experience working for a florist before setting up my own business.

I like being creative and working with flowers. I get real satisfaction from displaying flowers in my shop and making arrangements for customers which reflect my personal input.

What hours do you work?

The shop opening hours are Tuesday to Saturday from 8.30am to 5.00pm. However, I usually get to the shop a little earlier to take deliveries and sort everything out before opening the door.

What do you like best about your job?

I really enjoy the feedback from customers who appreciate the arrangements I make. Also, being surrounded by colourful flowers is such a nice environment in which to work.

What disadvantages are there to running your own business?

You have to put in long hours as the business side has to be done as well as the day job of working in the shop. Also, it is hard work at the beginning until the business becomes sufficiently profitable to support extra help and for me to take holidays.

What skills and qualities are needed?

You must have an eye for detail, artistic flair, good communication skills and have a friendly personality.

Joan's route to becoming a Florist

  • GCSEs.
  • Two-year Apprenticeship in Floristry.
  • NVQ Level 2 in Floristry.

Joan's tips

  • You will gain experience more quickly by combining work with training through an Apprenticeship, rather than taking a full-time college course.
  • Be creative and don't be afraid to try out new designs and ideas.

Florist related jobs

  • Garden designer
  • Greengrocer
  • Horticultural/garden centre worker/manager
  • Market trader
  • Retail manager

Salary of a Florist

  • There are no set pay scales for florists – rates can vary enormously, depending on the size of the shop and where it is situated.
  • A full-time entrant will start at around £9,000 to £10,000, rising to £14,000 to £15,000 with experience.

Becoming a Florist

  • Florists are most likely to work in small businesses employing fewer than five people. There is no upper age limit for becoming a florist, and no academic qualifications are required. Apprenticeships (Skillseekers in Scotland) may be available.
  • People who go directly into floristry are trained on the job. It is also possible to enter after a course of training which may lead to a BTEC First Diploma in Floristry, BTEC National Diploma in Floristry or BTEC Higher National Diploma in Floristry – a two or three-year course that prepares students for managerial work or self-employment.
  • Entry qualifications are usually five GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3) with one A level/H grade. NVQ/SVQ Levels 2 to 3 in Floristry are available with City & Guilds National Certificate in Professional Floristry – entry usually with NVQ/SVQ Level 2 in Floristry.
  • Experienced florists can gain the Intermediate Certificate of the Society of Floristry (ICSF) followed by the National Diploma of the Society of Floristry (NDSF), the highest floristry award in the UK, which has international recognition. Some colleges offer courses to prepare florists for the ICSF and the NDSF.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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