Published on 05/16/19

UGA's horticulture graduates see a bumper crop of job offers

By Sadie Lackey

It’s graduation season, and for graduating college seniors, that means it’s time to join the job market.

For graduates of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Department of Horticulture, most new alumni have job offers waiting for them, or they have been accepted into graduate school.

“In general, across this entire department, we have always made it a priority that, if you got an education in our department, we would help you get you a career job or assist you in applying for graduate school,” said Paul Thomas, professor of horticulture at UGA. “We have had near 100% placement for 17 years now. Our students enjoy starting salaries at the top of the agriculture pay scale because most of our students start out in management positions. Because of the training we give them, they can command a high salary.”

The department accomplishes this by requiring students to do an internship before graduation, assisting students in receiving scholarships, emphasizing the importance of extracurricular activities involving service and team efforts, and requiring that students take horticulture classes focused on professional and business practices. Classes such as greenhouse management and horticultural business practices are unique because they provide hands-on training integrated with lessons in management and professionalism, providing highly marketable skills for new graduates.

“We went to the industry and said, ‘What do our students need to know to be competitive?’ From there we modified the class work and course objectives to better match the emerging job markets in the horticulture industry,” Thomas said.

CAES alumnus Erik Edwards, who is now greenhouse manager for Emory University, says horticulture faculty at UGA have been key to his professional success. In fact, he feels recommendations by department staff have helped him secure he many of the positions he has held in his career.

“It is not just that you are in college to get a degree,” Edwards said. “You are there for training for your next step. The horticulture professors take a lot of pride in that and make it a focus.”

For more information about the UGA CAES horticulture department, visit

Sadie Lackey is a student writer for the CAES Office of Communications and Creative Services.

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