Team Building: Plan Your Training - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

We recently updated our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use this website, you acknowledge that our revised Privacy Policy applies.

Team Building: Plan Your Training

If you’re heading into the off-season, take advantage of this time to plan your training opportunities for your crews.

NALP offers a number of different training options that can help make the most of the slower months while providing professional development opportunities for your employees.

Benefits of Training

Offering ongoing training helps team members retain information and also ensures everyone is at the same knowledge level. By encouraging the pursuit of certification, you can inspire employees to achieve more for themselves.

One of the main benefits of having a certified staff is being recognized as one of the industry leaders. Joel Hafner, LIC, president of Fine Earth Landscape, Inc., based in Poolesville, Maryland, says their employees are better-trained thanks to the certification. He says they also use their certification for marketing with customers, as there are certain clients who prefer that they have certified staff.

Joe Lewis, LIC, account manager for Environmental Management Inc. (EMI), based in Plain City, Ohio, says certification helps add validity to this field as a skilled profession. He says offering certification can attract highly-qualified people and retain them by providing them an opportunity to progress in their careers.

“Instead of thinking, why would you spend this money and they leave, think about what if you spend this money and they stay,” Lewis says. “Don’t have a defeatist mentality. Talent costs money, plain and simple in any industry. Ours is not excluded from that. If you invest in your people, they will stay.”

Training Paths

If you want to deliver training to your crews yourself, the Landscape Technician Bootcamp is the path for you. This gives your trainers a pathway to offer classroom and hands-on training for your crews.

The curriculum is based on the Landscape Industry Certified Exterior Technician exam and provides the materials needed to cover techniques and safety in 25 different competency areas. You can use the manual to schedule the instruction at your own pace. It also prepares your team for the Landscape Industry Certified Exterior Technician exam.

If you have individual team members who want online, self-paced learning, try the Landscape Management Certificate Program. This program is designed to ensure that team members have mastered the basic landscape knowledge needed to succeed. This program is an easy, flexible way for landscape technicians to advance their skills.

It provides comprehensive training for landscape technicians on installation, irrigation and maintenance. These three modules can be taken separately or together. While it is not the same as being Landscape Industry Certified, the certificate program provides measurable training and preparation for the Landscape Industry Certified Exterior Technician exam.

A Spanish language version is also available for this program.

For your employees who have been working in the field for a few years and already have a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of and skill in a particular specialty area, it’s time to consider becoming Landscape Industry Certified.

This is the true test of a landscape professional’s skills and knowledge. The certification exam not only requires you to know how to do something but why you’re doing it, so individuals need to understand the science behind the task.

There are six different certification programs: business manager, exterior technician, interior technician, horticulture technician, lawn care manager and lawn care technician.

Study Tips

If you’re considering becoming Landscape Industry Certified this winter, consider setting aside 20 minutes to an hour a day for studying. Companies planning to certify a number of their staff over the off-season should take advantage of that by setting up group study sessions.

“The key is that the commitment has to also be at the company level,” says Margo Rash, NALP’s director of professional services and programs. “If you want your people to be certified then you have to help them in that pursuit and that effort.”

Oasis Turf & Tree in Loveland, Ohio, has practice tests they administer so team members can gauge whether they feel ready to take the certification test.

Hafner says he doesn’t approach employees about getting certified until they have two years of experience. Fine Earth pays for the certification fees, but the employee must finish the course, pass or fail. Otherwise, if they do not finish their certification test, they have to pay the company back.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.