If you’re looking to work in the world of sports, being a head groundskeeper is an unexpected path to having an outdoor office where you can watch games on the regular.
Head groundskeepers work at the stadium to make sure that playing surfaces are well-maintained and safe, no matter what sports the stadium hosts, from baseball to football, rugby to soccer. The team relies on the head groundskeeper to keep the field trimmed, looking nice, and in-line with league regulations.
What the Job Is
A head groundskeeper at a professional sports stadium keeps playing surfaces mowed and maintained while keeping an eye out for safety concerns with the grounds. They also fertilize and aerate the playing surface, as well as figuring out pesticide solutions and watering schedules. They will also paint lines on the field to league specifications.
At stadiums where the sport is played on a synthetic surface, the head groundskeeper keeps the surface clean and aesthetically appealing. They are also in charge of maintaining the surface, which can include repairing compactions and reinforcing seams for the safety of the athletes. Any avid football fan knows that there are many dangers that can come with turf that is not well maintained.
Where the Job Is
As a head groundskeeper, your office is the stadium. You’re right in the thick of things, seeing teams play and practice on a surface that you have worked hard preparing for the peak performance of the world’s best athletes. Thousands of fans will gather regularly to watch a game played on your handiwork.
The requirements can vary quite a bit, but many holding a head groundskeeper position have a bachelor’s degree in horticulture and a couple years of experience. Many are also certified through the Professional Landcare Network. Certification with the International Society of Arboriculture is also recommended.
Speaking with someone working in the type of stadium you’re interested in is a great way to hone in on the exact certifications and education you should pursue to become a head groundskeeper, while keeping in mind that within that field there are many interesting positions outside of the sports world. Almost all of which will have you enjoying the great outdoors at work.
Head groundskeeper salaries can depend on the level of team at the stadium, from professional fields to minor league ballparks. An average salary at a professional stadium can be up to $56,000. The job index Indeed says that, in 2013, that starting salary hovered around $28,000.
While the pay isn’t exorbitant, it can be a great position for someone who loves the outdoors and sport. And there’s good news: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 20 percent increase in grounds maintenance work around the United States over the next decade. That includes professional stadium groundskeepers.
That rate is faster than the national average of 14 percent growth for all jobs.
While it might be a little ways out for some students, knowing that it’s a growth area is encouraging for anyone pursuing an atypical way of getting into the field of sports. It’s also just one of of many STEM positions in sports that doesn’t involve being an athlete.