What can I do with a degree in agriculture?
Studying for a degree in agriculture has been an increasingly popular choice for students over the past couple of years, however, many graduates are still unsure which direction their career should take. This brief guide takes a look at some of the career options open to graduates and may provide you with the inspiration you need.
There are lots of work options and opportunities available to agricultural graduates. For example, you could run an agricultural or horticultural business, work in food production or agricultural sales and marketing. Many graduates move into farming journalism careers. It's not the case nowadays that agricultural graduates need to have a family farming background in the contemporary field of agriculture.
Global food shortages, high tech crop production and animal husbandry methodologies make agriculture and horticulture increasingly important for any country. Increased interest and belief in sustainability within farming and land management are also major areas within the sector which will lead to increasing numbers of job openings in the future.
Working in agriculture is never boring and some potential job and career options are discussed below.
Some job options directly related to agricultural degrees include:
- Estates or farm manager or fish farm/aquaponics farm manager
- Agricultural consultant
- Plant breeding or geneticist
- Surveyor in rural practice
- Soil scientist
Additional careers where agricultural degrees prove useful:
- Animal nutritionist
- Woodland, forest or park manager
- Field trials officer
- Agricultural, countryside or horticultural news or magazine journalism
- Sales or marketing into the agricultural sector or promoting produce from agricultural businesses
- Veterinary nursing
Graduating in any kind of subject area offers lots more diverse career opportunities with a variety of different employers, and agricultural degrees are no exception.
Importance of placements or work experience
Any kind of work or placement experience across the agricultural sector will stand you in good stead after graduation. If you're currently studying for an agricultural degree and won't be taking a placement year, you should try to find work during holidays. Check out all the commercial farming outlets in your home locality and drop into one or two to find out whether there are any opportunities. Summer months can be the busiest time of year for many farmers, so it's highly likely you'll be able to source work of some kind.
If you're hoping to build a career in areas like agricultural journalism or marketing, you may be able to shadow an existing worker for a couple of months or find a job as an intern. Another way to obtain valuable and relevant work experience is to volunteer with some of the local environmental or agricultural projects taking place in your neighbourhood.
Skills to add to your CV
You will learn and develop lots of different technical skills and areas of expertise throughout your degree course. Some of these include farming practices and food production, land use and the wide variety of ethical, scientific and business principles that are needed to work within the agricultural sector. These will all be of interest to potential employers and should be included within your CV.
Types of transferable skills and qualities that will also be of interest to any type of employer include:
- Evidence of good research and planning skills
- Good numeracy and IT, with an understanding of the economics of the agricultural sector
- Good decision making and initiative skills, particularly if you're applying for farm management roles
- Organisational and communication skills, particularly in leadership roles
- Evidence of good teamwork skills
- Project management evidence
Where do I look for jobs?
If you're searching for short-term work experience opportunities you will find the Farmers' Weekly publication is a useful resource and classified jobs can be accessed for free online (https://jobs.fwi.co.uk/jobs/). Other resources include the National Farmers Union, the Federation of Young Farmers, or you could contact one of our advisory team to talk about your requirements and we may be able to put you in touch with an employer looking for a short-term worker. Overseas work experience can be a valuable skill to add to any CV, so you could also check out whether Volunteer Abroad or Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) have any suitable volunteer jobs (https://wwoof.net/#wwoof).
Some of the larger employers in the UK
Agricultural degrees can lead to rewarding careers in the UK and overseas. Some of the larger employers include the Co-operative Group, British Sugar, Frontier Agriculture, Grant Thornton for agricultural accountancy jobs, HSBC and other major banks to work within the agricultural lending and advisory sector, the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB), the Soil Association, national and international farming and food producer brands.
Move to further studies
You can use your agricultural degree as a platform for a variety of Masters or postgraduate qualifications in areas such as crop management or crop science, agricultural technology or animal technology. You could also move into a teaching career by taking the relevant postgrad qualification.
Types of jobs existing agricultural graduates are doing
Existing agricultural graduates work in a variety of careers. According to Prospects (insert link https://www.prospects.ac.uk/careers-advice/what-can-i-do-with-my-degree/agriculture), almost 70% of existing graduates are in work. Around 10% are currently working as managers within the agricultural or horticultural sector. Training to become a chartered surveyor is another popular career option for graduates. Up to 15% of agricultural graduates continue their studies on a full-time or part-time basis.
The types of agriculture jobs in which graduates are working include:
- 15.7% working in agricultural management of some kind
- 10.5% have jobs in marketing or sales within the sector
- 10.2% work as technicians or in other associated professional roles
- 8.7% work in engineering or the building sector
- 54.9% of graduates work in other types of roles
Agricultural Recruitment Specialists are experts in sourcing candidates for top-level roles within agriculture, horticulture or associated sectors. We can help you source your first job within the countryside sector, nationally or internationally, and have exclusive links with a variety of major brands and employers globally. Get in touch to find out more: https://www.agrirs.co.uk