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Career and Education Opportunities for Grounds Keepers in Chicago, Illinois

Grounds keeper career and educational opportunities abound in Chicago, Illinois. About 46,630 people are currently employed as grounds keepers in Illinois. By 2016, this is expected to grow by 23% to 57,180 people employed. This is better than the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for grounds keepers are expected to grow by about 18.0%. Grounds keepers generally landscape or maintain grounds of property using hand or power tools or equipment.

Income for grounds keepers is about $11 per hour or $23,620 per year on average in Illinois. Nationally, their income is about $11 hourly or $23,150 annually. Compared with people working in the overall category of Landscaping and Groundskeeping, people working as grounds keepers in Illinois earn less. They earn less than people working in the overall category of Landscaping and Groundskeeping nationally.

There are 180 schools of higher education in the Chicago area, including six within twenty-five miles of Chicago where you can get a degree to start your career as a grounds keeper. Grounds keepers usually hold less than a high school diploma, so it will take only a short time to learn to be a grounds keeper if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Grounds Keeper

Grounds Keeper video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, grounds keepers landscape or maintain grounds of property using hand or power tools or equipment. They also workers typically perform a variety of tasks, which may include any combination of the following: sod laying, mowing, and installation of mortarless segmental concrete masonry wall units.

Grounds keepers use hand tools such as shovels, rakes, pruning saws, saws, hedge and brush trimmers, and axes. They also operate powered machinery such as mowers, tractors, twin-axle vehicles, snow blowers, chain-saws and pruning saws. Equally important, grounds keepers have to mow and edge lawns, using power mowers and edgers. They are often called upon to prune and trim trees, shrubs, and hedges, using shears or chain saws. They are expected to care for established lawns by mulching, aerating, weeding, grubbing and removing thatch, and trimming and edging around flower beds and walls. Finally, grounds keepers water lawns and plants, using portable sprinkler systems or watering cans.

Every day, grounds keepers are expected to be able to control objects and devices with precise control. They need to coordinate both hands in a single activity.

It is important for grounds keepers to mix and spray or spread fertilizers, herbicides, or insecticides onto grass and trees, using hand or automatic sprayers or spreaders. They are often called upon to maintain and repair tools, machinery, and structures such as buildings and benches, using hand and power tools. They also follow planned landscaping designs to establish where to lay sod or plant flowers and foliage. They are sometimes expected to formulate and cultivate lawns and gardens. Somewhat less frequently, grounds keepers are also expected to care for natural turf fields, making sure the underlying soil has the required composition to allow proper drainage and to support the grasses used on the fields.

Grounds keepers sometimes are asked to advise customers on plant selection and care. They also have to be able to set up rock gardens and/or playground machinery And finally, they sometimes have to decorate gardens with stones and plants.

Like many other jobs, grounds keepers must be reliable and be able to work independently and make decisions on their own.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Chicago include:

  • Integrated Pest Management Technician. Mix or apply pesticides, herbicides, or insecticides through sprays, dusts, vapors, soil incorporation or chemical application on trees, shrubs, or botanical crops. Usually requires specific training and State or Federal certification.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Grounds Keeper Training

College of DuPage - Glen Ellyn, IL

College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn, IL 60137-6599. College of DuPage is a large college located in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 25,668 students. College of DuPage has a one to two year program in Landscaping and Groundskeeping which graduated seven students in 2008.

College of Lake County - Grayslake, IL

College of Lake County, 19351 W Washington St., Grayslake, IL 60030-1198. College of Lake County is a large college located in Grayslake, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 16,359 students. College of Lake County has 2 areas of study related to Grounds Keeper. They are:

  • Landscaping and Groundskeeping, less than one year and associate's degree which graduated three and five students respectively in 2008.
  • Turf and Turfgrass Management, associate's degree which graduated 1 student in 2008.

Triton College - River Grove, IL

Triton College, 2000 5th Ave, River Grove, IL 60171-1995. Triton College is a large college located in River Grove, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 15,547 students. Triton College has a one to two year program in Landscaping and Groundskeeping which graduated three students in 2008.

Harper College - Palatine, IL

Harper College, 1200 W Algonquin Rd, Palatine, IL 60067-7398. Harper College is a large college located in Palatine, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 15,250 students. Harper College has 2 areas of study related to Grounds Keeper. They are:

  • Landscaping and Groundskeeping, less than one year and one to two year which graduated one and six students respectively in 2008.
  • Turf and Turfgrass Management, less than one year which graduated 8 students in 2008.

Joliet Junior College - Joliet, IL

Joliet Junior College, 1215 Houbolt Rd, Joliet, IL 60431-8938. Joliet Junior College is a large college located in Joliet, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 14,088 students. Joliet Junior College has an associate's degree program in Turf and Turfgrass Management which graduated six students in 2008.

McHenry County College - Crystal Lake, IL

McHenry County College, 8900 US Hwy 14, Crystal Lake, IL 60012-2761. McHenry County College is a medium sized college located in Crystal Lake, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 5,374 students. McHenry County College has a less than one year program in Landscaping and Groundskeeping which graduated three students in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

Certified Desert Landscaper: The Desert Botanical Garden is pleased to offer the Desert Landscaper Certification Program for over ten years.

For more information, see the Desert Botanical Garden website.

Arborist / Municipal Specialist: This credential was developed by the ISA and the Society of Municipal Arboriculture for those involved in managing the complex aspect of trees in an urban environment.

For more information, see the International Society of Arboriculture website.

Automatic Sprinkler System Layout: This certification program is for engineering technicians engaged in the layout and detailing of automatic sprinkler systems which must meet existing and proposed code and statutory requirements.

For more information, see the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies website.

Certified Grounds Technician: For those applicants who are directly involved with performing the day-to-day tasks of grounds maintenance, PGMS offers a certification program.

For more information, see the Professional Grounds Management Society website.

Certified Ornamental Lanscape Professional: Earn the Certified Ornamental Landscape Professional (COLP) designation by completing the "Principles of Landscape Tree & Shrub Maintenance" self-study course.

For more information, see the Professional Landcare Network website.

Certified Turfgrass Professional: Earn the Certified Turfgrass Professional (CTP) designation by enrolling in the Principles of Turfgrass Management a distance-based, self-study certificate course offered through the University of Georgia.

For more information, see the Professional Landcare Network website.

Certified Turfgrass Professional - Cool Season Lawns: Earn the Certified Turfgrass Professional of Cool Season Lawns (CTP-CSL) designation by completing the self-study course, Management of Cool Season Lawns.

For more information, see the Professional Landcare Network website.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois photo by Dschwen

Chicago is situated in Cook County, Illinois. It has a population of over 2,853,114, which has shrunk by 1.5% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Chicago, 114, is well above the national average. New single-family homes in Chicago are valued at $200,500 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, three hundred eighty-one new homes were built in Chicago, down from eight hundred seventy the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Chicago are health care, educational services, and professional, scientific, and technical services. For men, it is construction, professional, scientific, and technical services, and accommodation and food services. The average commute to work is about 35 minutes. More than 25.5% of Chicago residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 10.0%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Chicago is 11.6%, which is greater than Illinois's average of 10.5%.

The percentage of Chicago residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 57.6%, is more than both the national and state average. Southlawn United Methodist Church, Southern Missionary Baptist Church and Lakeside Evangelical Church are all churches located in Chicago. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Muslim Estimate and the Lutheran Church.

Chicago is home to the Five Crossings and the Wrigley Field as well as Monticello Park and Wilson Playground. Shopping centers in the area include Lincoln Village Shopping Center, Market Place at Six Corners Shopping Center and Kimbark Plaza Shopping Center. Visitors to Chicago can choose from Extended Stay America, Embassy Suites Lakefront and Cottage Inn for temporary stays in the area.