Freephone 0800 083 9191 or 01409 220 777
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. Exceptions include our RHS Level 3 courses where we recommend doing an appropriate RHS Level 2 course first.
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.
  • On successful completion you will be awarded an HCC Certificate1, 2   . Some of our courses also prepare you to sit external exams or have your coursework externally assessed for qualifications from leading awarding bodies (there is no obligation to take the exams but where a course includes external coursework assessment this is obligatory).
  • Your course includes all the necessary study materials and, if relevant, revision materials.
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 or the ABC Level 2 Certificate in Forestry course do not receive an HCC Certificate
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 achieve the Horticultural Correspondence College Certificate1, 2    for your course, graded to show the standard you have reached. 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).
If relevant to your course, you could also choose to gain an external qualification from respected awarding bodies such as The Royal Horticultural Society, The Royal Forestry Society or ABC. This would require you to sit external exams at an appropriate centre or have your portfolio of coursework externally assessed. Please contact the relevant accrediting body, see more details on each course page, click here.
Note: Taking exams to achieve an external qualification is completely optional. For example, some of our learners, particularly if studying for leisure, do our RHS courses without taking the RHS exams. However, where a course includes external coursework assessment (eg the ABC Level 2 Certificate in Arboriculture) this is obligatory.
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 or the ABC Level 2 Certificate in Forestry course do not receive an HCC Certificate
What are the differences between your exam and non-exam courses?
  • Our exam courses are designed around and follow the syllabus set by the relevant examining body (for example the RHS), to prepare learners to sit the external exam. They are particularly popular with vocational learners who want to gain formal accredited qualifications, but are also studied by many leisure learners because of their interest in the syllabus topics. Although these courses follow an exam-based syllabus, there is no obligation to sit the exams and some people – particularly non-vocational learners – prefer not to do the exams so they can enjoy the benefits of studying at leisure as described in the following paragraph. (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. The coursework assessment is obligatory.)
  • The non-exam courses cover diverse subjects – including many not found on exam-based syllabuses – and incorporate requests for specific topics. Secondly, without the pressure of preparing for an exam, you can learn at leisure and have the time to read widely or ‘open up’ tangential areas. Finally you have the flexibility to concentrate on your preferred topics and work at any level you choose (some learners take a basic approach while others go into great detail and reach a superb standard, reflected in their certificate grade). Our non-exam courses are popular with leisure learners and also many vocational learners who prefer the particular syllabus content and the more ‘open’ attitude to study.
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 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?
At HCC we do not set any exams ourselves. We offer both courses with no exam option and also courses that prepare learners, who wish to, to sit external exams for formal qualifications from industry-respected awarding bodies. HCC learners are under no obligation to sit any examinations, but many choose to, particularly if they are training for a horticultural career.
If you wish to take the relevant external exam, you need to obtain the syllabus, entry form and exam centre locations from the relevant examining body. You also need pay them the examination fees.
(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. If you choose to take them, 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.