career: Agriculture

What's it all about

Agriculture is more than just turning over soil. The industry includes farming, animals, food, research and science. There are plenty of job roles available that don’t require a degree in this sector, so long as you have a passion for all things nature.

Farming can mean working with animals, crops or plants and you don’t need a degree for any of these. You do, however, need to be extremely hard working and dedicated as jobs in agriculture are a full time commitment. Long hours and all weather conditions might be a drawback, but the rewards are extremely satisfying when it pays off!

The entry level positions are usually more manual and practical, which is why vocational learning might be best. However, eventually you might be able to work your way up to be a manager, researcher, educator or supplier. All of these things can come with experience and on the job training.

What could I be doing 

What could I be doing

  • Communications
  • Economics
  • Farming
  • Sciences
  • Researching
  • Gardening
  • Designing

Routes in

A career in agriculture can involve a lot of different roles and responsibilities – so there are a lot of options in terms of how you can start your career.

It’s generally a very hands on job that involves a lot of manual labor and practical work so its common for people to enter the industry through apprenticeships and on the job training. Although there are ways of getting into the career through agricultural degrees and other relevant qualifications, these more focused on the theory and science of agriculture. To get as much hands on experience and understanding of how the industry works, on the job training is a great idea.

Farms will often be looking for a few extra hands in the busier times of the year, so if you want to know if on the job training is for you it’s worth asking to do a few weeks work experience and see if you enjoy it. But make no mistake – it’ll be hard work and not just photocopying!

What skills will I need 

What skills will I need

  • Hard working
  • Time management
  • Organised
  • Good with animals
  • Physically fit
  • Team work
  • Communication skills

Been there, done that

We’re still on the hunt for a fabulous case study to show us how it’s done. Are you #DoingItWithoutADegree in this field? Then get in touch by emailing hattie@unisnotforme.com to find out how you can inspire our ambitious school leavers.


Expert opinion

The Eden Project is well known throughout the UK for being the place for nature lovers to visit and explore a whole new world in their magical domes. As well as being an incredible tourist attraction, the Eden Project also offers an amazing range of apprenticeships for school leavers to kick start their career. We spoke to Dawn George, head of apprenticeships, about the scheme:

How long does the apprenticeship scheme last?

The apprenticeship lasts two years across 7 different fields. Each apprentice gets a professional qualification at the end, for example those on the horticulture programme achieve a certificate in horticulture at the end of it. There are 16 new apprentices in total across the fields.

Those doing Horticulture get to work on the outer estate, the outdoor gardens, the biodomes, the plant nursery. They get to experience all areas.

We wish to build a pipeline of well trained apprentices. We have a  desire to retain them, build contacts of people we know have been successful and are capable of a future job should they apply later on.


How long has it been running for?

It’s relatively new on this scale, Cornwall College – delivery partners, joint deliver college element.

How highly does The Eden Project value a degree over work experience and on the job training?

It depends on role, horticulture needs study, if the role is more scientific it may require a degree. But work experience in certain fields can be just as valuable!

New apprentices are starting next week, what should they be expecting on their first few weeks?

First week is an induction, they’ll stay together through a training customer service programme orientation and team building. They’ll be put into teams, each team will have one day a week learning horticulture at college. Chefs need more skills developed before they can begin in a kitchen environment so they spend 3 weeks at college first.

Eden is known for sustainability – our apprentices gain a sustainability module which is a unique qualification as well as the apprenticeship qualifications.


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