As the world learns how to sustainably feed a growing global population, the demand for talented graduates in the agriculture sector is greater than ever

Agriculture offers a range of opportunities, from working on a progressive farm to being part of global companies involved in crops, livestock, machinery, and the food industry. Whether you excel in technical expertise, commercial operations, or have a passion for animals, there's a path for you to explore.

Emerging jobs in the agricultural industry

There’s a positive job outlook for those looking to enter the sector, with many experienced workers who joined the workforce in the 1970s and 1980s, set to retire. New opportunities are arising for individuals with the right qualifications, especially in:

  • animal nutrition
  • farm management
  • agronomy (the science of crop production and soil management).

To stand out in this competitive field, it's important to consider developing your business and IT skills alongside your scientific and technological knowledge of agriculture. The industry is rapidly evolving, and having these additional skills will make you a more attractive candidate. A strong degree, particularly one that includes practical farm experience and industry experience, will give you a significant advantage.

There's a common misconception that a career in agriculture is only for men with a lifelong connection to farming. This is not true - some universities report that over half of their agriculture students are women, and an increasing number come from non-agricultural backgrounds. The industry actively seeks diverse talent, so outdated stereotypes should not hold you back.

The career path you choose in agriculture depends on your skills, interests, and academic background. If you enjoy working with animals, you may want to consider careers managing dairy herds, sheep flocks, or farms, either in the UK or abroad.

There are also opportunities in consultancy and sales roles, particularly in areas like animal nutrition or the agri-pharmaceutical industry, where you would advise clients while working for a commercial manufacturer or supplier.

Additionally, jobs in agricultural or animal health and welfare departments of local government are also an option. You could even work for agencies such as the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), or the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland.

Agriculture courses

Undergraduate agriculture courses offer a comprehensive understanding of the science and business behind growing food and raising livestock. You'll delve into topics like crop production, animal science, soil management, and even agricultural technology.

The BSc Agriculture at Newcastle University covers the logistics of farming, including raising animals, growing crops and marketing farm products. In your final year, you'll choose either Combinable Crops, Applied Farm Business Management or Applied Animal Nutrition as your specialism before completing a dissertation in a research area of your choice.

Many programmes also incorporate practical elements like farm labs and internships, giving you hands-on experience to complement your classroom learning. The BSc Agriculture with Farm Technology at Harper Adams University teaches students applied skills in modules such as Science Technology and Information Systems for Agriculture and Mechatronics for Agriculture, preparing them for a variety of careers in this field.

Agriculture apprenticeships

While there's a shortage of people in the 20 to 40 age group within the sector, the agriculture jobs market in the UK is still extremely competitive. This makes taking advantage of training opportunities even more crucial, as entry into the industry often involves on-the-job training with earning a relevant qualification. Consider agricultural apprenticeships, which provide a clear path into the profession. For more information, see find an apprenticeship - GOV.UK

Large agricultural employers also offer their own apprenticeship schemes. For example, the agricultural and turf machinery manufacturer John Deere offers programmes for technician and customer service roles.

If your university studies weren't directly related to agriculture, specialist farm management courses and other related subjects can bridge the gap. Search postgraduate courses in agriculture to explore your options.

To learn more about the specific qualifications needed for your desired role, see how to get an environmental job.

Agriculture graduate schemes

Many larger employers also offer graduate schemes specifically tailored to agriculture. For example, AB Agri, a sustainable agriculture and animal nutrition company, offers an 18-month commercial or supply chain graduate scheme. This programme provides ongoing support, coaching, and mentorship as you delve into the various business operations.

The National Farmers' Union (NFU), the trade association for agriculture and horticulture in England and Wales, also offers a graduate programme. You can choose to specialise in either agricultural policy or public affairs and communications.

If agricultural policy interests you, the programme allows you to champion UK farming and food production, influencing policymakers at home and across Europe. The public affairs programme, on the other hand, focuses on promoting British farming to the public and media, including engaging in lobbying and PR campaigns.

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