Your Route Into Agriculture
There are many different ways into a career in Agriculture.
Here we explain some of the most common routes you can take to reach your dream job.
What you need to think about
If you are thinking about a career in Agriculture, working hard at Science, Technology, Maths and English will prove useful.
Most courses and apprenticeship schemes will require you to have GCSE passes (grade 4) in Maths, English and at least two other subjects.
If practical farming appeals to you, look out for opportunities to visit local farms. Every year thousands of farms open their gates on Open Farm Sunday and welcome the general public to come and see how their food is produced and ask lots of questions.
Work experience is a great way of learning more about the areas of the industry you are interested in. It can take time and determination to set up work experience placements so be persistent.
College and universities will be looking for proof of your interest and commitment so keep a record of work experience you have completed and what you learned from it to include in any future applications.
An apprenticeship gives you the opportunity to earn as you learn.
You get practical experience while studying for nationally recognised qualifications.
For this you would attend college either weekly or on block release (e.g. one week per half-term) with all your learning logged in an electronic workbook.
Course fees are fully-funded by the Government for 16- to 18-year-olds. Currently there is a Level 2 qualification in Livestock and Level 3 in Crop Production and Agricultural Engineering, with further options coming in the near future.
There are also Level 4 options available for those who wish to continue their learning to degree level equivalent. The current minimum wage for apprentices is £3.90 per hour (for those under 19 years old) but some are paid more as they develop their skills.
You will be paid for your normal working week plus time attending the training which is part of your apprenticeship. You would also be eligible for paid holiday time.
Taking A-levels in relevant subjects could enable you to progress onto an agricultural degree course at university or advanced apprenticeship.
Vocational courses are practical and aimed at preparing you for work or further study. They include BTEC and NVQs and offer different levels according to your prior experience and GCSE results.
Work experience forms a large part of the course requirements and students are expected to get relevant placements. From September 2022 a new raft of qualifications known as T-levels will be available for those wanting to study agriculture.
These courses, which are being introduced in other subjects in 2020, are equivalent to 3 A-levels and will offer a mix of classroom learning with work placements of about 45 days.
Vocational qualifications can lead into employment, advanced apprenticeships, or further study including university.
With A-levels, BTEC Level 3 qualification or similar under your belt you may decide that studying at university is the next step for you.
As well as general Agriculture degrees, there are many others which also include specialist study in areas such as: Animal Science; Business and Agri-Food; Environment, Sustainability and Wildlife; Food Technology and Innovation, Agri-Marketing and Rural Estate and Land Management.
There are plenty of UK universities which specialise in Agriculture-related courses.
Degree courses are usually three or four years long with some including a year-long work placement or ‘sandwich year’.
Universities outline their entry requirements for each course, which may include certain A-level subjects and work experience, so it’s worth checking out well in advance.
Applications for degree courses are via the University and College Admission Service (UCAS) and you can find lots of info about the application process on its website.