In this article
What does a florist do?
A florist sells flowers, plants and other floristry items to various customers. They use their creativity and design skills to select, cut and arrange flowers and foliage into displays and bouquets for birthdays, weddings, funerals, christenings and other events and special occasions.
Florists can generalise and offer flowers and plants for various occasions and events or specialise in specific areas of floristry, such as luxury, retail, wedding or funeral flowers. They can work in florists, retail, wholesale, garden centres, funeral homes or market stalls. Therefore, what a florist does will depend on their specialisms and where they work.
A florist aims to design and create beautiful floral arrangements to meet customers’ needs. They will carry out many tasks, including ordering and selecting flowers, speaking to customers, helping customers choose, designing and arranging, taking customer orders, advising customers, cleaning and tidying and general horticultural duties. The role may also encompass administrative work, such as keeping records.
Florists can work with many people, such as managers, senior florists, other florists, junior florists, delivery drivers and other staff. They can also liaise with external stakeholders, including customers (individual and business), suppliers, wholesalers, growers, funeral homes and undertakers, church and crematorium staff, wedding venue staff, event planners, other business staff, etc.
Florists can work for various-sized companies, from large florist chains and retailers to small florist shops. They can also be self-employed with their own business or market stall. They can also become members of a relay organisation or work as a freelance florist.
A florist’s responsibilities will depend on many factors, including who they work for, their role and their specialisms.
Some examples of their day-to-day duties may include (this list is not exhaustive):
- Keeping ahead of the latest trends and new floristry techniques.
- Ordering and selecting fresh flowers, plants, foliage and other products, e.g. wire and ribbons.
- Receiving deliveries and putting away and displaying stock.
- Displaying flowers in a way to make them attractive to customers.
- Speaking to customers about their needs.
- Assisting customers in choosing flowers, plants and other products and making recommendations.
- Serving customers once they have made their choice.
- Taking and processing customer orders in person or via the phone and online.
- Designing and arranging displays, bouquets, flower bunches, vases, wreaths and other arrangements for various events and occasions.
- Delivering finished arrangements and displays.
- Advising customers on flower and plant aftercare.
- Setting up flower displays at various events, such as weddings and parties.
- Cleaning vases.
- Keeping the premises and working environment clean and tidy.
- General horticultural duties, e.g. keeping plants and flowers healthy and in excellent condition.
- Keeping records, such as accounts.
A florist can expect to work 28-30 hours a week, but they can do more or fewer hours depending on the requirements of their role and the company’s needs. Self-employed florists will usually set their own hours.
Floristry is not usually a 9-5 job, as there will be deadlines to meet for specific occasions, which may require working evenings, weekends and bank holidays. Early mornings are typical for most florists.
Most florist roles are part-time, but full-time jobs and self-employment opportunities are available. There may also be temporary, contract or freelance jobs for those with more experience.
Travel may be a requirement for a florist if they deliver to customers, work at events or on market stalls. They may also need to travel to various locations and venues to set up displays. There may also be overseas opportunities for some individuals. However, these are rare.
What to expect
There are many positives to being a florist, especially if an individual has a passion for flowers and a creative flair. The role would suit those who enjoy spending their day around beautiful flowers and people from all walks of life.
Designing and creating beautifully presented floral bouquets, displays and other tributes that customers praise can give individuals a real confidence boost. It can be fulfilling to make customers happy with your creations.
Floral bouquets and displays are designed and created for weddings, birthdays and other events. Florists are a part of helping people celebrate and enjoy their special day. Their creations also allow people to pay tribute and remember their loved ones at sad occasions, such as funerals. They can go home at the end of the working day knowing they have contributed to their customers’ day, which can be rewarding.
Being a florist is less stressful and the working environment can be peaceful compared to other roles. There may be busier periods and deadlines to meet for specific events, but overall, it is not as demanding as other jobs. The working hours allow individuals to have a decent work-life balance.
There are opportunities for self-employment in floristry. Having your own business and being your own boss can be attractive. It can give individuals the independence to take charge of their working day and overall career progression.
There are florist jobs available nationally and many specialist areas of floristry. As some floristry roles do not require formal qualifications, it can also be a great career choice for less academic individuals.
Boredom will never be a problem for florists, as each floral display, bouquet and tribute will differ, as customers’ needs will vary. There are opportunities to visit different events and venues to set up floral displays and meet many people during the working week.
Even though there are positives to being a florist, there are challenges and cons, e.g.:
- Allergies – working with flowers is not for everyone, especially those with allergies triggered by pollen. Individuals with mild allergies may be able to work in this type of environment, but it is unlikely to be a suitable job for those who suffer severely.
- Busy periods – although the job is less stressful than others, there will be busy periods during holidays and deadlines for various events, such as weddings and funerals. Florists must still be able to design and create beautiful floral creations within a certain time period.
- Customers – florists must meet their customers’ needs, which can be challenging if they are demanding. Flowers and plants don’t always behave how you want them to, which can be difficult when customers have such high standards. There may also be upset or distressed customers if the order is for a loss or funeral, which can be emotionally demanding.
- Low pay and job insecurity – the salaries for florists can be low compared to other careers. If individuals are self-employed, work is not always guaranteed, so there can be fluctuations in income. Also, flowers are not essential for most people, so if there are economic downturns, people won’t order, which can affect a florist’s job security.
- Physical demands – florists will be on their feet for most of the working day and may have to lift and carry deliveries, arrangements and displays. They also typically work in cool environments to keep the flowers as fresh as possible, which can be difficult for some people.
Every career choice has pros and cons, and individuals must know what to expect before deciding whether it is for them. Being a florist is unsuitable for those with severe allergies. It can get busy, and customers can be demanding. The pay is low, there is poor job insecurity, and there are physical demands. However, there are many positives too, and those who become florists love working with flowers in a low-stress environment all day.
When considering whether to be a florist and the type of role, individuals should look at the pros and cons. They should also ensure they have the right personal qualities to carry out the role and responsibilities required.
Personal qualities needed to be a florist
Some of the personal qualities a florist requires will include (this list is not exhaustive):
- A passion for flowers and plants.
- Knowledge of flower trends.
- Knowledge of the different types of flowers and plants, their longevity and seasonality.
- A good eye for colours, shapes and flower combinations.
- Sensitive, understanding and empathy.
- Approachable and friendly.
- Excellent verbal communication skills.
- Customer service skills.
- Sales skills.
- Practical skills.
- Creative and design skills.
- Organisational and time management skills.
- Business management skills (if self-employed).
- Being thorough, accurate and having excellent attention to detail.
- The ability to work well with their hands.
- The ability to be flexible and adapt to change.
- The ability to come up with new ideas and methods.
- The ability to work well with others in a team and alone using their own initiative.
- The ability to work well under pressure and remain calm in stressful situations.
- The ability to use various floristry equipment.
- The ability to use the computer and relevant software packages proficiently.
As flowers have scientific names, some knowledge of Latin can be helpful.
Qualifications and trainingg
There are many different routes to becoming a florist. Individuals could go to university or college, enrol on a course with a private training provider or apply for an apprenticeship. They could also do work experience to help them enter the role.
An individual does not need a degree to become a florist. However, having a degree can increase their chances of success.
Some examples of degrees are:
- Foundation Certificate in Professional Floristry and Floral Design.
- FdA Professional Floristry and Floral Design.
- BA (Hons) Professional Floristry and Floral Design.
The entry requirements will depend on each university. Individuals should check before applying.
Most individuals will begin by undertaking a college or private training course to help them become professional florists.
Some examples of courses are as follows (this list is not exhaustive):
- Level 1 Certificate in Floral Design.
- Level 2 Certificate in Floristry.
- Level 2 Diploma in Floristry.
- Level 2 Creative Craft Floristry.
- Level 3 Extended Diploma in Floristry.
Individuals usually need:
- Level 1 – two or fewer GCSEs grades 3 to 1 (D to G) or equivalent.
- Level 2 – two or more GCSEs grades 9 to 3 (A* to D) or equivalent.
- Level 3 – four/five GCSEs grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) or equivalent.
Private training companies and floristry schools may also offer courses. Some may provide training on how to start a floristry business and be self-employed.
It may also be worth doing low-cost online courses to see if a floristry career is suitable. That way, if not, it will save an individual a lot of time and trouble. Even community floristry courses can count.
Courses and qualifications do not guarantee a role as a florist. However, it will demonstrate to employers that an individual is keen on the job and may give them a competitive edge. Always check the entry requirements before applying.
Individuals could do an apprenticeship to help them get into the role, e.g. an intermediate apprenticeship in floristry, which takes around two years to complete. Individuals usually need some GCSEs, or equivalent, including English and maths.
Opportunities are found on Government’s Apprenticeships, Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education and Indeed.
Relevant work experience, either paid or voluntary, can help individuals stand out and build their knowledge and skills.
To gain experience, individuals could (this list is not exhaustive):
- Apply for a floristry assistant or junior florist role and learn on the job.
- Work in a retail environment to gain experience working with customers.
- Do work experience in a florist’s shop while studying.
- Volunteer at events, e.g. with the British Florist Association (BFA)..
- Volunteer with gardening and horticultural charities to get experience working with flowers, e.g. RHS Gardening.
Training and experience may be necessary for some jobs and volunteer opportunities.
Learning does not stop with experience or once someone becomes qualified. Attending relevant training courses and having additional certifications can help individuals enter the profession, enhance their employability and give them a competitive edge. Many colleges and accredited private training companies can provide relevant training courses.
We have many examples of courses that may be useful for individuals looking at a career as a florist, including (this list is not exhaustive):
- Health and safety, e.g. hazardous substances, manual handling, work-related stress, risk assessment, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
- COVID-19 awareness.
- First aid at work.
- Equality and diversity.
- Understanding the GDPR.
- Customer service skills.
- Customer service in retail.
- Complaints handling.
- Time management skills.
- Resilience training.
- Management and employment law (if self-employed with employees).
There are also courses specific to floristry, flowers and plants, and some knowledge of biology and Latin would be useful.
Professional bodies, charities and associations, such as the British Florist Association (BFA), the Floristry Trade Club, the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies (NAFAS) and other organisations, can also advise on reputable training courses. Some also provide memberships, events and support to help individuals become florists and give those already in the profession the means to continue their professional development.
The type of training required will depend on who an individual works for and their specialisms. It is worth looking at several job advertisements to identify the training needed for roles. Jobs are on websites such as GOV.UK Find a Job Service, Indeed, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Morrisons Careers and many other sites. Also, look at recruitment agencies for temporary and contract roles and individual company websites.
More relevant training and competence (skills, experience and knowledge) will open up more opportunities for individuals. Refresher training is also advisable as it keeps their knowledge and skills up to date.
Individuals can be self-employed and have their own florist business, work freelance or become part of a relay organisation, such as InterFlora, Teleflower or Flowergram.
If an individual decides to be self-employed, they will have additional responsibilities.
- Have the correct insurance, i.e. public liability and business. If employing anyone, employers’ liability insurance will be required.
- Register with HMRC.
- File tax returns.
- Register with the ICO to hold personal data (to comply with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR).
Further advice and guidance on being self-employed can be found on GOV.UK.
If an individual decides to be self-employed, they will also need to factor in certain costs, such as (this list is not exhaustive):
- A premises or market stall.
- Membership costs (if part of a relay organisation).
- Computer and mobile phone.
- Running costs, e.g. utilities.
- Vehicle, fuel, tax and insurance.
- Training, CPD and professional memberships.
- Supplies, e.g. flowers, plants and floristry equipment and items.
- Marketing and advertising.
We have further information on setting up a floristry business here.
Some florists will drive as part of their role, especially when picking up from wholesalers or nurseries and delivering flowers, plants and other items to customers. Therefore, they should have a full driving licence.
Where do florists work?
Florists can work in various settings, such as (this list is not exhaustive):
- Florist/flower shops.
- Luxury flower businesses.
- Floral design studios.
- Other retail stores.
- Garden centres.
- Large hotels.
- Market stalls.
- At various indoor and outdoor events and venues, such as churches, funeral homes, hotels, marquees, private residences, businesses, gardens, parks, etc.
Individuals can also be self-employed with their own businesses, become members of a relay organisation, or work on temporary contracts with recruitment agencies.
How much do florists earn?
A florist’s salary will depend on their role, qualifications, experience, geographical location, employer, working hours, contract and specialist area.
Some examples of average salaries include the following (these figures are only a guide):
- £13,000 starter to £24,000 experienced (National Careers Service).
- £19,761 (Indeed UK).
- £24,250 (Payscale).
- £25,399 (Talent.com).
- £26,000 (Totaljobs).
The salary for self-employed florists is variable. They will also need to factor in various expenses, e.g. premises, tax, National Insurance, suitable vehicle, MOT/tax/insurance, fuel, other insurances (business/liability), supplies, equipment, etc.
As an apprentice, the salary will depend on an individual’s age and how long they have been in their apprenticeship. Apprentices must earn at least the current National Minimum Wage (NMW). Some employers will pay more than this. However, it will depend on the organisation and role on offer.
Types of floristry to specialise in
As previously mentioned, individuals can choose to work in a specific setting.
They can also carry out general floristry duties or specialise in various types, such as (this list is not exhaustive):
- Event floristry – specialising in designing and creating floral arrangements for various large-scale events, such as corporate events, birthdays, weddings, galas, baby showers, etc. They can work closely with event planners or customers directly. It typically requires more travel, as florists will deliver and set up event displays.
- Funeral floristry – specialising in designing and creating floral arrangements and tributes for funerals, memorials and sympathy. Funeral florists can work closely with funeral directors and bereaved families.
- Luxury floristry – specialising in designing and creating floral arrangements using the finest flowers. They usually work with high-end establishments and clientele. They may also supply flowers for high-profile events.
- Retail floristry – working in a retail setting such as floristry and flower shops. They design and create floral arrangements for various occasions, e.g. birthdays, christenings and funerals. They can also sell other floral products and gifts.
- Wedding floristry – specialising in designing and creating floral arrangements for weddings and civil ceremonies. They work closely with brides, grooms and other couples to create wedding flowers, such as flower crowns, bouquets, buttonholes, table decorations and other displays. They can attend various indoor and outdoor venues to set up displays.
- Wholesale floristry – specialising in supplying flowers, plants and other floristry products to businesses, e.g. retailers and event planners.
Some florists may also specialise in using specific flowers in arrangements, such as roses and tulips.
All specialist floristry roles require differing knowledge, skills, experience and qualities. All florists must have a passion for flowers and plants and have excellent design and creative skills. Any additional areas of expertise will depend on what a company is looking for (if employed) and a florist’s intended specialist areas. Further training may be necessary for specialised roles.
If florists do not carry out their roles correctly, it can result in poorly designed and created floral arrangements. In worse cases, it can result in unhappy clients, complaints, a poor reputation and reduced business. Therefore, whatever the type of role, florists must have the necessary competence to carry out the work professionally and correctly. They should also know the limits of their competency, i.e. asking for help when something is beyond their expertise.
Products, trends, equipment and technologies are regularly changing. Therefore, florists must keep ahead of the latest developments and changes to carry out their roles effectively and correctly. Continuing professional development (CPD) gives florists the knowledge and skills to keep up to date with these changes, understand their responsibilities, and progress in their careers.
Joining a professional body, charity or association (as previously mentioned) can help prospective and current florists enhance their skills and overall career. They may offer different levels of membership, CPD, support and access to industry contacts and networking events.
There is an opportunity for career progression for florists. With more training and experience, they could become a manager, senior florist or team leader. They could also move from a retail floristry role to a wedding or event role or focus on specific flower arrangements. They could also decide to become self-employed with their own business or work freelance.
Knowledge, skills and experience gained from being a florist can also lead to a career in different areas. For example, they could move into other roles, such as floral design, horticulture, retail, teaching, demonstration and exhibition work.