Advanced Certificate in Professional Horticulture

Learn the application of horticulture in the garden and crop sectors. Identify plants and understand techniques and science needed for a sustainable and diverse professional career.

Course Code: VHT086
Fee Code: AC
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 900 hours
Qualification Advanced Certificate
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A Flexible Course in Professional Horticulture

Horticulture is very broad based comprising of many industry sectors - this course lets you lay the foundation for a career in Professional Horticulture without locking you into a specific sector.

This study course is a great way to put together the modules that suit your specific goals and learning needs.

Lay the foundation for a career in professional horticulture 

Why this Course?

  • This is a fully professional course with a very broad focus. 

  • Designed to learn, remember, and have a foundation that serves you for life. Too many courses today are shorter, only focused on getting you through an exam - but then you forget. A shorter course may give you a qualification; but what is the value in that if your capability to succeed at work is diminished later on.

  • Horticulture today is more changeable than ever. 

  • Be ready to change direction in your career every time opportunities change (you can't do that as effectively with shorter and more specialised qualifications).

Unlike some other horticulture study programs, this course provides an opportunity to study across a wide variety of subdisciplines within horticulture; and in doing so, that allows you to move from one industry sector to another throughout your career.

If you love horticulture and don't want to lock yourself into a career in just crops, landscaping, parks, turf or nursery .... take this course and set yourself apart from most other horticulture graduates by having a broader base of knowledge.

Study this qualification for a full and rewarding, lifelong career in the "green industries".

Choose a more diverse selection of subjects and prepare to be able to move from one industry sector to another as trends and opportunities change throughout your career. 

We have been teaching Horticulture internationally since 1979

Our staff are qualified and experienced; our courses are in depth, and our student support is strong.

ACS has a unique international reputation and offers you the opportunity to be tutored by horticulturists in both Australia and the UK; giving you a valuable international perspective on horticulture.


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Advanced Certificate in Professional Horticulture.
 Botany I (Plant Physiology And Taxonomy) BSC104
 Horticultural Research I BHT118
 Horticulture I BHT101
 Horticulture II (Plant Knowledge) BHT102
 Horticulture III (Plant Health) BHT116
 Plant Selection And Establishment BHT107
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 3 of the following 31 modules.
 Biochemistry I (Plants) BSC102
 Cell Biology BSC110
 Garden Maintenance VHT100
 Herb Culture BHT114
 Landscaping I BHT109
 Nature Park Management I BEN120
 Outdoor Plant Production (Crops I) BHT112
 Turf Care BHT104
 Biochemistry II (Plant & Animal) BSC203
 Commercial Organic Vegetable Growing VHT241
 Cut Flower Production BHT221
 Cutting Propagation BHT211
 Engineering II - Engineering Applications BSC205
 Fruit Production - Temperate Climate BHT218
 Garden Centre Management BHT255
 Horticultural Research II BHT241
 Nature Park Management II BEN207
 Orchid Culture BHT232
 Permaculture Systems BHT201
 Plant Breeding BHT236
 Plant Pathology BHT206
 Practical Horticulture 1 BHT238
 Roses BHT231
 Workshop II BGN203
 Biochemistry III (Plant Processes) BSC302
 Horticultural Therapy BHT341
 Mushroom Production BHT310
 Organic Plant Culture BHT302
 Plant Ecology BSC305
 Practical Horticulture 2 BHT323
 Water Gardening BHT307

Note that each module in the Advanced Certificate in Professional Horticulture is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.

The Future of Employment in Horticulture is Bright

Plants are essential to the survival of man kind.  They provide us with food, clothing, fuel, building materials and many of the other commodities that are essential to our day-to-day wellbeing.

Plants are also essential to the sustainability of our environment. They stop cities from getting too hot or too cold; they prevent land degradation, they reduce carbon pollution and they contribute to air quality.

It is an absolute certainty that there will always be work for people who know how to grow plants.

We have chosen to keep our courses longer and stronger; and in doing so; we are finding our graduates are in very strong demand. As the 1970 graduates go into retirement, we are facing a severe shortage of well trained horticulturists. With a growing population and increasing focus on issues such as sustainability and carbon pollution; one must ask....

  • Who is going to grow the plants in the future?

  • Is our capacity to grow plants well simply going to diminish?

This is professional training for a sustainable, high level career in horticulture requires much more than just passing exams - you need a course that builds your capacity to understand the science and technology, apply a high level of knowledge, think creatively, identify & know thousands of plants and be connected with industry. Our course does that! This course provides a different approach to preparing for a career - designed to give you unique skills and a unique foundation to build a sustainable business or employment.


1. Recognise where the jobs are.
Some horticulture jobs are in the public sector (ie. working for government or non profit organisations); but most are in private enterprise. If you are the sort of person who likes to be self employed; your range of opportunities may be greater. If you want to work for someone else; recognise that you may find more opportunities in private enterprise than the public sector; and work on making yourself attractive to businessmen just as much as to public service managers.

2. Recognise that training is most important for what you learn.
Sometimes, having a certificate can be important; but more often, being able to identify and grow plants is what employers and clients value more.

3. Recognise that training is only one piece of the puzzle.
Just as a car cannot run without petrol; a horticulture qualification does not  guarantee a career without experience and networking. It doesn't matter whether your experience is voluntary or paid; working for yourself, or someone else; manual labour or something more than that -any experience in horticulture is a big advantage over no experience.


We used to place one teacher with four students, all with their own equipment, and give them plenty of time to not only learn a task once; but come back and practice it time after time until it was perfect. Horticulture qualifications could involve thousands of hours of instruction, practical and theory. These things often do not happen any more. Courses are shorter, funding in government courses is tight and numbers enrolling in classroom based horticulture is diminishing.

In contrast; distance education is growing rapidly.

Ibis consulting reported in late 2009 that Online Education would be one of the fastest growing sectors in the Australian economy over 2010.

ACS Distance Education enrolments in horticulture in Australia increased last year by 21.8% on the previous 12 months Enrolments in ACS through affiliate college, Courses Direct, grew even more.

How Can Distance Education Work in Horticulture?

Think about it. The internet, video streaming, interactive self assessment tests, social networking, email and other technological innovations have made a virtual classroom experience not only possible but able to deliver services at a cost that could never be achieved face to face. In a nut shell, as technology makes distance education better and better; funding pressures have been making face to face education worse and worse.

There’s no doubt that the best learning experience happens when you place a fantastic teacher face to face with a small group of students, and give them all the time in the world to learn.
This may have happened in the 60’s and 70’s (sometimes); but in today's world, it is simply not a viable economic proposition for many colleges. Too many people need to be trained, the world is changing too fast, and government finances simply cannot cope with funding this type of education any more.

We have been exploring and refining techniques for distance learning; and doing so since 1979.

Our course does work. If you apply yourself, do the work and pass the exams; you will have the ability top identify a wide range of plants; the knowledge to understand how to grow plants in a wide range of situations, and both skills and awareness of different sectors of the industry as a foundation for building a lifelong and flexible career in the horticulture profession

How Can This Course Help Me?

Our Advanced Certificate in Professional Horticulture is the ideal program to get a career off the ground in horticulture. It opens doors that are not open to those who complete lower level courses. An intensive course like this tells employers that you have committed a lot of time and effort to your studies and that you should have a deeper level of understanding of your field of study. If you have previously studied at a basic level but are now ready to enhance your knowledge and skills then a comprehensive course in horticulture is the next logical step.

Study this course to help you get positions in:

  • Horticulture parks & gardens management

  • Head gardening

  • Landscape foreman   

  • Horticulture research

  • Horticultural marketing & sales

  • Horticulture retail management

This course is also suited to those wishing to refresh their skills as well as for personal development and growth within current businesses and work roles.


Principal of ACS Distance Education, John Mason, is fellow of the CIH.
Principal of ACS Distance Education, John Mason, is fellow of the CIH.
Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.
Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
Member Nursery and Garden Industry Association.
Member Nursery and Garden Industry Association.
ACS is a Member of the Permaculture Association (membership number 14088).
ACS is a Member of the Permaculture Association (membership number 14088).
ACS is a Silver Sponsor of the AIH; and students studying designated courses are given free student membership. ACS and it's principal have had an association with AIH since the 1980's
ACS is a Silver Sponsor of the AIH; and students studying designated courses are given free student membership. ACS and it's principal have had an association with AIH since the 1980's

How can I start this course?

You can enrol at anytime and start the course when you are ready. Enrolments are accepted all year - students can commence study at any time. All study is self paced and ACS does not set assignment deadlines.

Please note that if a student is being assisted by someone else (e.g. an employer or government subsidy), the body offering the assistance may set deadlines. Students in such situations are advised to check with their sponsor prior to enrolling. The nominal duration of a course is approximately how long a course takes to complete. A course with a nominal duration of 100 hours is expected to take roughly 100 hours of study time to complete. However, this will vary from student to student. Short courses (eg. 100 hrs duration) should be completed within 12 months of enrolment. Certificates, Advanced Certificates and Awards (eg. over 500 hours duration) would normally be completed within 3 -5 years of enrolment. Additional fees may apply if a student requires an extended period to complete.
If a student cannot submit their assignments for 6 months to ACS, they should advise the school to avoid cancellation of their student
registration. Recommencement fees may apply.

Simply click on the ENROL OPTIONS button at the top of this screen and follow the prompts.

You can see the course price at the top of this page. Click 'enrolment options' to see any payment options available.

You can pay by Credit Card, PayPal, Afterpay or bank transfer.

Yes! We have payment plans for most courses. Click 'enrolment options' to see the available payment plans.
We also have Afterpay that will allow you to pay for your course or payment plans in four instalments (if you are in Australia).

What do I need to know before I enrol?

There are no entry requirements that you need to meet to enrol in our courses, our courses are for everyone.
If you are under 18, we need written permission from your parent/ guardian for your enrolment to continue, we can arrange that after you have enrolled.

You don’t need to purchase any additional resources to complete our courses.

We aim to teach you the essentials without you having to purchase any specific computer program.
We recommend that you have access to a word processing program, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs, so that you can easily complete and submit your assignments.

You sure can. We are here to help you learn whatever your abilities.

Yes, if you are enrolling in a Certificate or Advanced Certificate, you might be eligible for credits if you have evidence of your previous studies or relevant experience. More information is here.

We recommend that you are able to browse websites, send emails and conduct online research. You will need to be able to type and submit your assignments.
If you have limited computer skills, we can make special arrangements for you.

This is possible, it depends on the institution. We recommend that if you would like to use our courses that you contact the institution first. Our Course Handbook is a good resource for this.

Our courses are written in English and we only have English speaking academic staff. If you can read and complete your assignments in English, our courses are ideal for you.

Our courses are designed to build knowledge, hands on skills and industry connections to help prepare you to work in the area, running your own business, professional development or as a base for further study.

This course is aimed at providing you with a solid understanding of the subject. It has been designed to take 600 hours, which includes your course reading, assignment work, research, practical tasks, watching videos and more. When you complete the course, will have a good understanding of the area/ industry you want to work in.

It’s up to you. The study hours listed in the course are a rough guide, however if you were to study a short course (100 hours) at 10 hours per week, you could finish the course in 10 weeks (just an example). Our courses are self-paced, so you can work through the courses in your own time. We recommend that you wait for your tutor to mark and return your assignment before your start your next one, so you get the benefits of their feedback.

The course consists of course notes, videos, set tasks for your practical work, online quizzes, an assignment for each lesson (that you receive feedback from your tutor from) and ends in an exam (which is optional, if would like to receive the formal award at the end), using our custom built Learning Management System - Login.Training.

Our courses are designed for adults to gain professional development and skills to further their careers and start businesses.

Our custom online learning portal allows you to conduct your learning online. There may be practical tasks that you can do offline. You have the option of downloading your course notes or print them to read later.

There is also the option to pay an additional fee for printed course notes and or USB (availability limited to location and deliverability).

Yes, if you don’t have access to the internet, you can receive the course as paper notes or on a USB stick for an additional fee. We can also make alternative arrangements for you to send your assignments to us.

We offer printed notes for an additional fee. Also, you can request your course notes on a USB stick for an additional fee.

Yes, your tutor is here to help you. Simply post any questions you have in your portal or contact the office and we can pass on a message to your tutor.

We are more learning focussed, rather than assessment focussed. You have online quizzes to test your learning, written assignments and can complete an exam at the end of the course (if you want to receive your certificate). You will not receive a pass/ fail on your course work. If you need to add more details on your assignment, we will ask you to resubmit and direct you where you need to focus. If you need help, you can ask your tutor for advice in the student room.

Each module (short course) is completed with one exam.

Exams are optional, however you must sit an exam if you would like to receive a formal award. You will need to find someone who can supervise that you are sitting the exams under exams conditions. There is an additional cost of $60 incl. GST for each exam.
More information is here

There are practical components built into the course that have been designed to be achieved by anyone, anywhere. If you are unable to complete a task for any reason, you can ask your tutor for an alternative.

When you complete the course work and the exams (8-9 exams) and you will be able receive your course certificate- an Advanced Certificate. Otherwise, you can receive a Letter of Completion.

You can bundle the short courses to create your own customised learning bundle, Certificates or Advanced Certificates. More information is on this page.

Yes, our courses are built to be applicable for people living anywhere in any situation. We provide the fundamentals, and each student can apply their own unique flair for their own interests, region and circumstances with the one-on-one guidance of a tutor. There is also a bit of student directed research involved.

Employers value candidates with industry skills, knowledge, practical skills and formal learning. Our courses arm you with all of these things to help prepare you for a job or start your own business. The longer you study the more you will learn.

ACS has an arrangement with OAMPS (formerly AMP) who can arrange Professional Indemnity from Australian and New Zealand graduates across all disciplines. Ph: 1800 222 012 or email

Who are ACS Distance Education?

ACS Distance Education have been educating people for over 40 years.

We are established and safe- we have been in education for over 40 years.
We are focused on developing innovative courses that are relevant to you now and what you will need to know in the future.
We are focused on helping you learn and make the most of your experience.
You can enrol at any time, you can work on your course when it suits you and at your own pace.
We are connected to many industry bodies and our staff participate in continuous improvement and learning activities to ensure that we are ahead of what learning is needed for the future.

Our courses are not accredited by the Australian Government. However many of our courses are recognised and held in high regard by many industry bodies.

Our courses are written by our staff, who all have many years experience and have qualifications in their speciality area. We have lots of academic staff who write and update our courses regularly.

How do I enrol my staff/ sponsored students?

Yes, you can do a request for a bulk enrolment and request an invoice on our Invoice Request Form

We can prepare an invoice, quote or proforma invoice. Simply complete your details on our Invoice Request form

We can arrange bulk discounts for your course enrolment, please get in touch with us to discuss your needs.

Yes, we have many students who are in locked facilities, such as prisons or hospitals. We can cater by also offering paper notes at an additional cost.

What if I have any more questions or need more information?

We can assist you to find the right course for your needs. Get in touch with us via email ( call on +61 7 5562 1088 or complete our course advice form.

What if I change my mind?

Please get in touch with if you would like to be removed from our mail list.

If you would like ACS Distance Education to delete your information at any time (whether you are a customer or a prospective customer), please contact our privacy officer and we will process this ( ).

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Marie Beermann

Marie has more than 10 years experience in horticulture and education in both Australia and Germany. Marie's qualifications include B. Sc., M. Sc. Hort., Dip. Bus., Cert. Ldscp.

John Mason

Writer, Manager, Teacher and Businessman with over 40 years interenational experience covering Education, Publishing, Leisure Management, Education, and Horticulture. He has extensive experience both as a public servant, and as a small business owner.
John is a well respected member of many professional associations, and author of over seventy books and of over two thousand magazine articles.

Dr. Lynette Morgan

Broad expertise in horticulture and crop production. She travels widely as a partner in Suntec Horticultural Consultants, and has clients in central America, the USA, Caribbean, South East Asia, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.

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