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Careers in Farming and Agriculture: A Beginner's Guide

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If you’re reading this, then the chances are you are seriously thinking about a career in the agricultural and farming industry. Perhaps you’ve always had a desire to work in this field, or perhaps it has been a more recent aspiration. Either way, you are looking to learn more, so you can decide whether this kind of role is right for you.

Below we will talk you through what the industry involves, the type of work you would expect to see, what kinds of qualifications you may need and the different entry-level options you may have.

A career in farming and agriculture is more than just working on a farm and a milking a cow. Modern agriculture is a complex career path, which offers a broad range of possibilities. Using state of the art technology, agriculture is a major contributor to the economy.

Why would I consider a career in agriculture?

There are a number of reasons why you should consider this as a career path:

- Agriculture has high employment rates for University leavers
- Due to a current labour shortage, there is a drive to have at least 60,000 new employees in the sector
- Long term prospects; as the population grows, the need for food to be grown will increase
- The pay; the salary in agriculture is usually higher than the national average

What kinds of jobs could I do?

There are endless possibilities, not just based on farms. Jobs in agriculture range from engineering, scientist, researchers, traders, business advisors, retailers or vets.

What is the pay like?

£27,200 is the average annual salary in the UK. Agricultural jobs compare very well to this. For instance, people working in the agricultural supply trade had an average salary of £33,583. However, it MUST be noted that your salary is highly unlikely to fit this number straight away - typically, your income rises as your experience and years dedicated to the trade do.

What are the hours?

Agriculture is an industry that requires a high level of commitment. Even those that don’t work on a farm, would find that they would have to work longer hours than the usual 9 to 5.

Who does the job suit?

This ultimately depends on the kind of job or career path you would consider. Generally, those that are looking to work hands-on in a farm would:

- Enjoy working outdoors, no matter the weather
- Have excellent practical skills
- Be a problem solver with little assistance needed
- Be a self-motivator
- Boast a thorough understanding of how to maintain machines
- Have excellent numeracy skills

This is an industry that is perfect for those with an interest in the environment, science and business. Those that would work in the supply sector, would require the same skills, but would also need to work in a team.

How do I gain work experience?

The best way to get to know the industry better is to complete work experience. There are several different courses in the agricultural sector that will give you practical hands-on experience.

This would be useful as industries connected to farming, would always prefer those that have had some experience on a farm as, after all, it gives them a greater understanding of the challenges that customers face.

Contacting a local farmer and explaining who you are and why you would want to complete some work experience, should hopefully lead you to gain some valuable experience on a farm.

What qualifications do I need?

The wonderful thing about the agricultural industry, is there are openings for work at different levels, you can enter the industry after completing your GCSEs or as a post-graduate.

The industry is extremely professional, despite the common stereotype that the industry is for the unqualified.

Choices for GCSE or A-Level

Agricultural careers are usually based around Mathematics, Science, Engineering and Technology, so to give yourself plenty of options it would be best to look at achieving grades in these subjects at GCSE or A-Level.

Further education courses

If you know what food and farming industry you are looking to work in, then you can start investigating the different specialist courses that are offered at land-based colleges and universities up and down the country.

Choosing the right educational course can then set you on the correct path for building your career in the agricultural industry.

What about apprenticeships?

These are a brilliant way to get educated and gain valuable work-based experience in the sector. Apprenticeships are the preferred choice for those wishing to build a career within the sector. The fantastic thing about an apprenticeship as a study option is you will combine learning with practical based work and earn. These are growing ever more popular in the industry.

If you are aged between 16 to 24 years old, then you will find several apprenticeships in the industry available for you. An apprenticeship usually takes one to four years to complete.

There are different levels of apprenticeship available, working from intermediate, advanced and to a higher level. Usually, the higher-level roles would go toward any management-based roles.

An apprentice would normally work four days of the week in the business and then for one day a week, they would attend a college for formal training.

If you’re 16 to 20 years old, then the weekly wage on an apprenticeship in the agricultural sector is around £145. If you are between 18 to 20 years old, you will find it increases to £200 a week.

What does it take?

To have a successful career in the agricultural and farming industry, you would need a positive attitude and always be willing to embrace change when it comes. Those that work in the industry, enjoy the challenges of hard work and making decisions, working on their own initiative and thinking on their feet.

You will find that you would need to wear many hats and, even in one role, you will find that there is a lot of variety throughout your career.

If you're looking for work in the agricultural sector, Agricultural Recruitment Specialists can help you find the right niche in the UK, Europe and beyond. We can assist in finding which doors are open for you with your specific background and even advice on what you could do to improve your prospects.

Agricultural Recruitment Specialists are worldwide recruitment experts in agricultural, food, farming and rural recruitment and have a variety of executive and management positions available within agriculture, horticulture and the food and rural sectors throughout the UK and the rest of the world. To find out more about our agricultural job vacancies and discuss your future career, contact our team of agricultural recruitment professionals. You can visit our website here: www.agriRS.co.uk or call our team on: 01905 345 155 or email us at: info@agriRS.co.uk

Alternatively, if you are a client looking to expand your team, whilst using a professional recruitment / headhunting solution, then please call us today on 01905 345155 or email us at: info@agriRS.co.uk