Greenhouse Canada

New retail horticulturist exam to launch

September 14, 2012  By Canadian Garden Centre & Nursery

Sept. 14, 2012, Milton, ON — The Landscape Industry Certified Retail Horticulturist exam is all shined up and ready for show.

The new exam, formerly the Certified Horticultural Technician exam, will be available across Canada this fall. The test will continue to be a combination written and practical evaluation.

Like all of the Landscape Industry Certified designations, the exam is based on the principles of validity (how closely it relates to the job), reliability (how objective the test is) and defensibility (how well it holds up to scrutiny).


The first step in developing the exam is always establishing an occupational standard using a panel of subject matter experts from as wide a cross-section of industry as possible. This group updates the original standard, taking into account the changing nature of retail garden centres. This year, they put a greater emphasis on customer service, merchandising skills, and on the issue of integrated pest management techniques and products.

This occupational standard was then used to create a new set of written exam questions and new practical exam stations. Most notably, the forklift station has been removed from the new certification, given largely to the need for separate certification for operation in most provinces. A new plant health station will now test much of what used to be covered by the pesticide and fertilizer and pest identification stations. The new focus is on technique and comprehension of control methods, rather than any specific product.

The other significant change is an improved scoring system for the practical testing. It is now, like the Landscape Industry Certified Technician exam, based on a 100-point maximum deduction scale. This helps candidates better evaluate their performance and turn the exam into a learning experience. Scoring is also weighted by section to correspond to the values (importance, frequency and safety) assigned during the occupational analysis process. This ensures more reliable and valid scoring for all candidates.

The written exam has also been given an overhaul with a new bank of questions. As ongoing quality control, these questions will be continually monitored for problem areas and updated to ensure the best test for industry. There is now a large bank of questions, which allows for more unique exam options and ensures test reliability.

Exam dates are currently being set across Canada. For details on the program and for testing locations in your area, visit

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