Turf Management Degree

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What is Turf Management?

Turf management is the area of study and expertise that deals with the maintenance of large fields, either public or private, for the purposes of growth of grass of varying types for either aesthetic or practical reasons. Individuals will learn the proper methods and technologies used to ensure that the areas under the supervision of the manager are well maintained and up to the standards demanded by the employer or client. The field requires education and training to be considered for employment, particularly because of the variety of factors that can positively and negatively impact growth and how to utilize that knowledge.

It should come as no surprise, the academic field of study of turf grass or artificial turf is not new.  In fact, Penn State has been conferring turf grass science degrees for nearly 100 years within their agronomy department.  The skills involved in becoming a turf scientist make this field a niche science with long-term staying power.

Skills a turf scientist must learn include weed control, soil chemistry, soil science, integrated pest control, irrigation, field design, and maintenance techniques.  Given the nature of this degree program, it is ever-more important to link academic work with hands-on learning opportunities.

Thus, students in a turf management program will often intern with a sports organization, golf course, or property manager.  The internship allows students to ply their trade in real-time under the direct supervision of a trained turf scientist and link classroom learning with practical issues related to turf grass.

What Will I Learn in a Turf Management Program?

An accredited program in turf grass management or turf science will provide students with a set of rigorous coursework to prepare them for life after school.  From general education courses such as philosophy, accounting, creative writing, and communications to core curriculum, you will have a well-rounded education in turf management.   Options within the turf management discipline include the following types of online degree programs and on-site programs:

  • Associate Degree in Turfgrass Management Technology (AAS)
  • Turfgrass Management Technology Diploma
  • Turfgrass Management Technology Certificate
  • Bachelor of Science in Turf Management (BS)
  • Landscape Design Certificate
  • Landscape Maintenance Certificate
  • Sports Turf Certificate

Upon completion of an online degree or on-site degree in turf management, students will have a unique set of skills to leverage in the marketplace.  Graduates from a turf science program should be able to perform the following:

  • Establish & maintain turf an turfgrass
  • Evaluate weather and match plant selection accordingly
  • Provide solutions to turfgrass problems
  • Maintain turf equipment
  • Design and construct hardscape solutions
  • Model landscape solutions in software applications

Educational Requirements in Turfgrass Management

A degree in turf and turfgrass management will prepare an individual for the growing and maintenance of large scale grass fields, such as sports stadiums, golf courses or recreational areas of parks. The management of such turf requires an understanding of how the grass is grown, the various elements in soil that could prevent fullness, and the proper balance of chemicals in order to keep the soil and grass healthy.

Degrees are available at the associate and bachelor's level, with a bachelor's being preferable to employers requiring large areas of grass to be maintained.

A curriculum in turf and turf management may include:

  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Horticulture
  • Plant Physiology
  • Pest Management
  • Ornamental Horticulture
  • Soil Science
  • Equipment Maintenance
  • Entomology
  • Plant Pathology & Native Flora Identification
  • Soils, Fertilizers, and Plant Materials
  • Environmental Biology
  • Turfgrass Management

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Employment Opportunities in Turf Management

A career in turf management typically begins after graduation with the student obtaining an assistant position to a professional manager. Over the course of the next few years the assistant will become familiar with the ins and outs of turf management, understanding the relationships of the various influences that may hinder grass growth and how to overcome them. Once the assistant has gained an appropriate amount of experience he or she will begin to look for open positions in order to ply their trade.

Turf Management Career Outlook

Turf management is expected to maintain normal growth over the next ten years. This is due to the limited number of individuals that pursue employment in the field in a given year resulting in little competition and high employment rates employment rates high. Another contributing factor is turnover due to retirement opening up existing positions in a given year. The average salary for a turf manager is approximately $32,000 per year with a steady increases over time as experience and skill accrues.

What Jobs Can I Get with a Turf Management Degree?

The type of job you end up with after graduating with a degree in turf management depends on your geographic preference coupled with the employment opportunities you seek.  Meaning, if you live in a small rural town in the Midwest your opportunities to manage a professional football field are limited but your skills for irrigation design may be very much in demand.  A list of common industries that hire turfgrass specialists include the following examples:

  • Golf Courses
  • Sports Complex Manager / Facility Manager
  • Property Management
  • Lawn Care
  • Irrigation Design
  • Sod Production

Individuals interested in turf and turfgrass management may also be interested in greenhouse management and operations, landscaping and groundskeeping and, and ornamental horticulture.

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