The Job and What's Involved

Florists design and assemble floral displays, which they sell to businesses, event organisers and the general public through shops and market stalls.

Floral displays are created for many occasions including christenings, weddings, other celebrations, funerals and corporate events.

A florist's duties usually include:

  • Ordering, unpacking and caring for flowers and plants.
  • Regular stock checking.
  • Displaying and selling cut flowers, plants and accessories such as containers and vases.
  • Discussing and taking orders for floral displays.
  • Advising customers on types of flowers and colour combinations.
  • Designing and assembling floral displays, wedding flowers or funeral tributes.
  • Delivering displays to customers or event venues.

Looking after the flowers and plants requires knowledge of the structure and needs of different flowers. To keep them fresh and in good condition florists cut stems, remove damaged flowers and leaves, place in water as required and check for pests. Florists also have a wide knowledge of indoor plants and may install and maintain planted displays in places such as offices or banks.

To create floral displays, they use knives, scissors, support wire, tape and absorbent foam. Displays are arranged in pots, baskets and other containers, often using ribbon, dried flowers and decorations. They are sometimes gift wrapped. Bridal and funeral work are highly skilled and often involve intricate techniques and artistic ability.

People who own or manage a florist shop also have duties such as staff management, administration and accounting.

Florists usually work around 35 hours a week, during shop opening hours: Monday to Saturday, 9am to 5pm or 9.30am to 5.30pm. There may sometimes be early starts, to deliver flowers for celebrations or events. Overtime may be required at busy periods such as Valentine's Day and Mother's Day. Self-employed florists may work flexible hours, according to customers' needs. There may be part-time opportunities.

Most florists work indoors, mainly in a workroom or the sales area of a shop. Some travel around, delivering flowers or collecting arrangements and containers after events. Market stallholders spend a great deal of time outdoors. Many shops and stores provide uniforms.

The work involves a lot of standing at a shop counter or workbench. It is not suitable for people with severe pollen allergies, but few people find ordinary hay fever a problem. People with sensitive skins may need protection such as barrier creams or gloves for some work. A driving licence is useful.

The starting salary for a florist may be around £9,500.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are approximately 6,700 floristry businesses throughout the UK, employing around 28,700 people. Most shops are small, although some are part of a national chain. There are full and part-time opportunities.

Most florists work for, or operate, a small business or are self-employed. A few large event venues/organisers may employ their own florists.

Floristry businesses are often linked together by large 'relay' organisations - national organisations which arrange for flowers to be made up and delivered by a local florist in their network, regardless of where it is ordered.

Jobs are advertised in local newspapers and Jobcentre Plus offices. The Society of Floristry website also has a vacancy section.

Education and Training

There are no set academic requirements to become a florist, but GCSE's/S grades (A-E/1-5) in subjects like English, maths and arts and crafts are useful.

Experience of working in a florist shop on Saturdays or school holidays may be useful in obtaining a full-time job.

Specific floristry qualifications are available, including:

  • NVQ's/SVQ's in Floristry Levels 2 and 3.
  • City & Guilds National Certificate Level 2 and Advanced National Certificate Level 3 in Floristry.
  • BTEC National Award in Floristry (Business or Design).
  • BTEC National Certificate in Floristry.
  • BTEC First Diploma in Floristry.

Customer service or retail qualifications, or previous experience of working with customers in a retail environment, are also useful.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

New entrants are likely to receive on-the-job training from a manager or experienced member of staff. They may study for NVQ's/SVQ's, which are assessed in the workplace. Other courses and qualifications may be taken full time at college or as part-time study whilst working.

Once someone has worked for some time as a florist, they may take the Society of Floristry professional qualifications:

Intermediate Certificate - entry requirements are four years' floristry experience, or a floristry Level 2 qualification plus two years' experience, or a floristry Level 3 qualification and attendance at an appropriate Society of Floristry seminar.

National Diploma - entry requirements are the Intermediate Certificate or a BTEC national diploma and attendance at an appropriate Society of Floristry seminar.

Both qualifications include written and practical examinations.

The Society of Floristry Training Fund offers some educational awards for individual training and development each year for its members.

The trade organisation, The British Florist Association, can also provide training advice.

Some flower relay services and local colleges run short courses on flower design and arrangement.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A florist should:

  • Have a good understanding of plant and flower care.
  • Have a good sense of colour, shape and design.
  • Be patient, careful and sensitive to customers' needs.
  • Have excellent personal and telephone communication skills.
  • Be an efficient planner, able to work to tight deadlines.
  • Have plenty of stamina.
  • Have good administration and sales skills, especially if running a business.

Your Long Term Prospects

For florists with the experience and enthusiasm to progress, there may be opportunities in some shops for promotion to deputy manager or manager.

Florists with the necessary practical and business skills sometimes progress to working on a self-employed basis, or open their own florist shop.

The design skills required in floristry could provide useful knowledge and experience to move into other areas of the design world.

Get Further Information

British Florist Association (BFA),
c/o Wordhouse Publishing Group Ltd,
68 First Avenue, Mortlake, London SW14 8SR
Tel: 0870 240 3208

Flowers and Plants Association,
266-270 Flower Market, New Covent Garden Market,
London SW8 5NB
Tel: 020 7738 8044

Lantra, Lantra House, Stoneleigh Park,
near Coventry CV8 2LG
Tel: 024 7669 6996

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