Find out what qualifications, skills and experience you’ll need to secure a graduate job in the environment and agriculture sector

Entry to some occupations in this sector, such as land-based engineering, is only possible with a specific degree. For others, such as environmental management or conservation, entrants usually have a relevant degree and increasingly a postgraduate qualification. Graduates from other disciplines could consider a postgraduate conversion course to boost applications to environmental jobs.

For many other jobs in this sector, science, agriculture, geography or business degrees are useful. For commercial graduate schemes, companies will often consider any degree subject, although some employers will require a 2:1.

The sector provides opportunities for training and development at all entry levels and there is a long tradition of apprenticeship and work-based learning.

For information on entry requirements and relevant qualifications, see job profiles.

What skills do employers want?

Employers usually require candidates with:

  • relevant practical and technical skills;
  • an interest in environmental or sustainability issues;
  • teamwork skills;
  • physical fitness (for some jobs);
  • business awareness or management skills.

Entrepreneurial skills can also be valuable due to the abundance of self-employment opportunities in the sector.

Where can I get work experience?

Work experience is essential for most jobs in this sector and voluntary work is a way in to many areas, such as conservation, ecology and animal care.

Opportunities for volunteering can be found with not-for-profit organisations, including:

  • National Trust;
  • Natural England - includes opportunities for volunteers in National Nature Reserves;
  • RSPB;
  • RSPCA;
  • TCV (The Conservation Volunteers) - search your postcode to find projects in your area;
  • The Wildlife Trusts.

Specialised degrees, such as engineering and forestry often include a placement year during the course.

You can also find internships on large company websites. Businesses such as British Sugar and JCB offer placements in agriculture, engineering and business. Kuhn take on more than 150 trainees each year in most departments, including agriculture.

Not-for-profit organisations also offer internships. Unfortunately these are often unpaid. The National Trust offers environmental management and horticultural internships. The RSPB offer 3-12 month internships, including assistant warden positions.

To find work placements and internships in the environment and agriculture sector, search for work experience.

How do I find a graduate job in environment and agriculture?

You can find graduates schemes at large companies such as AB Agri, AGCO, British Sugar, JCB and John Deere. These include opportunities in engineering, science, IT, sales and marketing, accounts and HR and can lead to a permanent role.

The Forestry Commission run a Graduate Development Programme for those with degrees in forestry, environmental science or estate management.

Useful websites include:

Jobs are not always formally advertised as the sector is dominated by small companies. Sending out speculative applications is one way to combat this.

To find jobs in the environment sector, search graduate jobs in environment and animal and plant resources.