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Career and Education Opportunities for Grounds Keepers in Rockford, Illinois

Grounds keepers can find many career and educational opportunities in the Rockford, Illinois area. Currently, 46,630 people work as grounds keepers in Illinois. This is expected to grow 23% to 57,180 people by 2016. 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 yearly. Incomes for grounds keepers are not quite as good as in the overall category of Landscaping and Groundskeeping in Illinois, and not quite as good as the overall Landscaping and Groundskeeping category nationally.

The Rockford area is home to twelve schools of higher education, including one within twenty-five miles of Rockford where you can get a degree as a grounds keeper. Grounds keepers usually hold less than a high school diploma, so you can expect to spend only a short time training to become a grounds keeper if you already have a high school diploma.


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 Rockford 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.


Kishwaukee College - Malta, IL

Kishwaukee College, 21193 Malta Rd, Malta, IL 60150-9699. Kishwaukee College is a small college located in Malta, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 4,134 students. Kishwaukee College has an associate's degree program in Landscaping and Groundskeeping which graduated four students in 2008.


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.


Rockford, Illinois
Rockford, Illinois photo by Kranar_drogin

Rockford is situated in Winnebago County, Illinois. It has a population of over 157,272, which has grown by 4.8% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Rockford, 78, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Rockford are valued at $125,600 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, sixty-four new homes were built in Rockford, down from one hundred fifty-seven the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in Rockford are health care, educational services, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is metal and metal products, construction, and machinery. The average commute to work is about 20 minutes. More than 19.8% of Rockford residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 7.1%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Rockford is 17.6%, which is greater than Illinois's average of 10.5%.

The percentage of Rockford residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 50.0%, is less than both the national and state average. Abundant Life Assembly of God Church, South Park Covenant Church and Souls Harbor Church are among the churches located in Rockford. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the United Methodist Church.

Rockford is home to the McPhail Hall and the Mary McGaw Hall as well as Ken-Rock Park and Jamestown Park. Shopping malls in the area include Alpine Village Shopping Center, Eleventh Street Plaza Shopping Center and Fairview Shopping Center. Visitors to Rockford can choose from Extended Stay America - Rockford East, Courtyard Rockford and Hampton Inn Rockford for temporary stays in the area.