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I want a new career, can your courses help me?
Yes! Our complete career courses, ‘Become a Gardener’ and ‘Become a Garden Designer’, have been specially designed for people wanting to change direction. They can provide you with all the knowledge, skills and qualifications you need to successfully retrain for a new horticultural career and make a living out of something you love.
You can find out more by clicking here:
Do I need any previous experience to enrol on your courses?
Most of our courses (including our ‘Become a Gardener’ and ‘Become a Garden Designer’ career courses) are suitable for complete beginners and no previous gardening or garden design experience is required.
How do your courses work?
  • Our flexible courses are great for busy adults. You can study where and when you want, fitting your studies around your life and job commitments.
    • You can learn at home, on the train, in the garden, during a work break, from anywhere in the world!
    • And you can work at your own pace. Also, if you’re having a busy time at work or family crisis and need a break from your studying, that’s fine with us.
  • As soon as you enrol, we will send you your first set of course materials. You can start as soon as you want – there are no term start dates or waiting lists to fit around.
  • You work through your course materials at your own speed and send off each assignment to be marked by your tutor. Your tutor is on hand for support – just pick up the phone or email them. All our course materials are written by expert horticulturists and designed to be clear and easy to follow.
  • Your tutor will promptly return your marked assignment with constructive feedback and guidance.
  • Your course includes all the necessary study materials and, if relevant, revision materials.
Upon successful completion of your course you will either be awarded the HCC Certificate1  which, because of HCC’s reputation, can be a useful addition to your CV or a qualification2  issued by one of the awarding bodies below.
Some of our courses also prepare learners for exams or produce portfolios towards qualifications from respected external awarding bodies, including:
  • Royal Horticultural Society
  • Royal Forestry Society
  • ABC Awards
1  The HCC Certificate will be issued once you have successfully completed your course and finished your course payments.
2  Learners doing the ABC Level 2 Certificate in Arboriculture course, the ABC Level 2 Certificate in Forestry course or the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) qualifications, including Become a Gardener and Become a Garden Designer, do not receive an HCC Certificate as their qualifications are issued by the aforementioned awarding bodies.
Do I get any help to complete the course?
Yes. We believe expert, inspired teaching and friendly encouragement are just as important as great study materials, and you will be assigned a tutor to work closely with you throughout your course. (If relevant, this includes right up to the day when you sit external exams). As well as marking and giving you written feedback on your work, you can call or email your tutor – they will be happy to help. All HCC tutors have advanced level qualifications, considerable industry experience and a real passion for their subject.
Our support team are also here to help you. You can contact them Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
What qualifications can I achieve?
Upon successful completion, you will either achieve the Horticultural Correspondence College Certificate1  for your course, graded to show the standard you have reached or a qualification2  issued by one of the awarding bodies below.
The HCC’s reputation means this can be highly regarded on a CV and, combined with your portfolio of coursework, is evidence of your achievements (whether you are applying for a job or a more advanced study course).
Some of our courses also prepare learners for exams or produce portfolios towards qualifications from respected external awarding bodies, including:
Royal Horticultural Society
Your course materials and tutorial feedback during your studies will prepare you to complete the Royal Horticultural Society qualifications. When you are ready to sit the examinations you will need to register as a candidate with HCC or as an external candidate with another RHS Approved Centre. We offer advice and assistance for booking examinations when you are ready. Please click here for RHS and assessment centre requirements and fees.
ABC Awards and Royal Forestry Society
Your course materials and tutorial feedback during your studies will help you to prepare and complete your portfolio of coursework which is then externally assessed.
Please contact the relevant accrediting body, see more details on each course page, click here.
1  The HCC Certificate will be issued once you have successfully completed your course and finished your course payments.
2  Learners doing the ABC Level 2 Certificate in Arboriculture course, the ABC Level 2 Certificate in Forestry course or the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) qualifications, including Become a Gardener and Become a Garden Designer, do not receive an HCC Certificate as their qualifications are issued by the aforementioned awarding bodies.
Do your courses include any practical-based training? How can I gain the necessary practical experience if I want a career in horticulture?
Distance-learning courses, such as ours, are by their very nature completely theory-based. At HCC our aim is to provide the technical underpinning knowledge needed for horticultural activities, such as gardening and garden design, in a flexible, affordable way, making study possible for many more people.
Of course, evidence of practical experience is important for learners pursuing a horticultural career and HCC students gain this in a variety of ways. A huge number practice in their own gardens or allotments or those of friends and family, and many complement this by also volunteering in local parks, public gardens, nurseries, garden centres, for organisations like the National Trust and for charities (there is always a demand for volunteers with gardening skills!). Others gain work experience or apprenticeships with relevant horticultural professionals and businesses. Please contact our support team if you need more advice on opportunities for gaining practical experience.
How long does it take to complete your courses?
Our training is designed to give you maximum flexibility. Once you have enrolled on your course, you can start studying when you want and progress at your own pace, fitting your learning around other commitments. The time taken depends on the course, how quickly you like to learn and how much time you wish to commit to study. As a guide, many learners are able to gain:
  • The Become a Gardener course in approx 9 to18 months (approx 430 learning hours)*
  • The Become a Garden Designer course in 9 to18 months (approx 290 learning hours)*
  • Most other courses can be completed within 6 to 12 months*
You have 2 years from the enrolment date to complete your course. This should be plenty of time, allowing you if necessary to take a temporary break for job or other reasons, while providing a motivating deadline.
* Timescales are approximate and depend upon application and motivation.
What could I do when I successfully complete my course?
  • You could start a new career making a living out of something you love – working outdoors, in private or public gardens, employed by a company or running your own business. Especially if you have completed one of our complete career courses Become a Gardener or Become a Garden Designer.
  • For professional gardeners and garden designers the skills you have learnt on your course could add to your existing skills, to increase your career opportunities and earning potential. Many highly experienced professionals also do our courses to gain recognised qualifications as formal proof of their ability to employers and clients.
  • If you are learning for leisure, you could achieve more pleasure from and a deeper understanding of your hobby. You could also get the satisfaction of carrying out more tasks yourself and creating the garden you dream of.
  • You may also wish to study another area of horticulture. See the ‘career progression’ section on each course page, or contact us on
    Freephone 0800 083 9191 or 01409 220 777.
What payment options are available for your courses?
You can choose from two payment options:
  • Pay a deposit followed by monthly instalments*
  • or
  • Pay the total course fee in one sum
* The HCC Certificate (where available) will be issued once you have successfully completed your course and finished your course payments.
How do I enrol?
There are three ways you can enrol on our courses.
  • To enrol by phone, please call Freephone 0800 083 9191 or 01409 220 777 and speak with one of our helpful course advisors.
  • To enrol online, please click here
  • To enrol by post, send off the completed enrolment form included in our brochure. Click here to request a brochure.
How do the exams work?
Your course materials and tutorial feedback during your studies will prepare you to complete the Royal Horticultural Society qualifications. When you are ready to sit your examinations, you will need to register as a candidate with HCC or we will help you to register as an external candidate with another RHS Approved Centre which may be closer to you.
Please click here for RHS and assessment centre requirements and fees. Examinations are held in February and June each year at dates that are set by RHS and we email registration instructions to our students in advance of each session.
(Note: We offer two courses, the ABC Level 2 Certificate in Arboriculture and the ABC Level 2 Certificate in Forestry, where assessment for the ABC qualification is via the completed portfolio of coursework and not by exam. In this case, the external assessment of coursework is obligatory.)
Please see each course page for details. Click here to choose your course.
Do your courses include exam support?
Yes, we will do all we reasonably can to ensure you succeed in external exams. So, on the relevant courses, as well as generally preparing you for the exams, we can provide and mark past exam papers and your tutor can help you with your revision right up to exam day.
Do any of your courses lead to RHS qualifications?
Yes, the following courses prepare you for Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) qualifications:
Do any of your courses lead to RFS qualifications?
Yes, the following course prepare you for the Royal Forestry Society (RFS) qualifications:
Do any of your courses lead to ABC Awards qualifications?
Yes, the following course prepare you for the ABC Awards qualifications:
For free advice, please call Freephone 0800 083 9191 or 01409 220 777, or click here to request a call back.