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What You Need to Know for a Graduate Job in Agriculture
Agriculture has been a major contributor to Australia’s national economy, contributing to 12% of Australia’s gross domestic product with 126,000 full time farmers annually producing $137 billion worth of product. With a wide range of career choices associated with the agriculture industry including farmers and farm workers, scientists, auctioneers, logging workers and tree fellers, the career prospect for graduates is bright, with the estimate of Australia needing 2000 agriculture graduates per year to continue to drive the agriculture industry forward1. There are a number of career opportunities in the agriculture industry including:
- Agricultural technician
- Agricultural scientist
- Farm workers (crops, livestock or mixed)
- Farmers (aquaculture, crops, livestock or mixed)
- Timber and wood process workers
- Pest controllers
- Plant operators (agriculture, forestry and horticulture) etc.
There is no required degree in order to be qualified for a career in agriculture, however degrees in agriculture and environmental sciences are highly valued. Employers also look for candidates with general skills that suite the job which may include:
- High motivation
- Strong ability to work in a team
- Ability to think critically
- Problem solving skills
- Research and analysis skills
- Technical and mechanical knowledge
- Expertise and scientific knowledge
What to Expect
The agriculture industry has many different career opportunities that vary in duties and you can find yourself working both indoors, in an office or laboratory, or outdoors in the field.
Farmers of crop and livestock do day-to-day farm operations to grow crops and raise livestock as well as manage the seasonal and annual responsibilities of agribusiness. Tasks as a crop and livestock farmer may include:
- Keeping records of livestock, crop rotations, employees, production and finances
- Managing the sale and storage of crops and livestock
- Supervising the breading, care and harvest of animals and animal products as well as the planting, cultivating, and harvesting of crops
- Planning according to conditions, monitoring prices for each crop and animal product produced etc.
Agricultural technicians help assisting agronomists, researchers and agricultural scientists by researching, experimenting and testing a wide range of agricultural crops, food and animals and work both indoors and outdoors to complete their work. Tasks may include:
- Analysing soil characteristics and requirements
- Collecting samples of crops and animals for laboratory examination and analysis
- Preparing detailed reports on findings
- Organising laboratory samples and equipment etc.
Agriculture scientists study the science of commercial food and fibre production by combining laboratory and research skills and in depth knowledge of the environment. They can specialise in different areas such as soil science or genetic engineering and tasks of an agriculture or forestry scientist may include:
- Assist and support data collection and analysis for project work
- Gathering, collection and maintain samples and recording results
- Performing in-depth research on factors that may affect farm production (e.g. insect and pests related problems, and diseases)
- Project manage research sites which include budget and equipment management and supervising staff etc.
Employment in the agriculture industry are sought into roles that are categorised into:
- Production Roles of production can be either be directly on farms on in agribusinesses which service farms which include farm consultants, agribusiness, commodity market services and financial/banking advice
- Research, development and extension Roles ranges from plant and animal breeding; pest, weed and disease management, nutrition, farm systems to farm business economics
- Natural resource management Farmers spending a huge amount of their time managing pests, weds, soil, natural vegetation and water
- Food services After production, commodities need to be marketed, processed, packaged, transported and sold
- Education and training Through schools, universities and adult education, candidates are able to gain knowledge and develop their skills in agriculture
- Policy For policy formulation and management, people with agricultural knowledge are put in both public and private sectors which include trade policy, biosecurity, industry policy and commercial advice to companies that engage in agriculture
Graduate salary ranges for occupations agricultural consultant, agricultural scientist, crop farmer and livestock farm worker are:
- Agricultural consultant: $40,000 - $49,000
- Agricultural scientist: $42,000 - $47,000
- Crop farmer: $44,500 - $68,000
- Livestock farm worker: $25,000 - $45,000
Typical employers for agriculture include2:
- Resource trading organisations
- Government agencies
- Environmental consultancy agencies
- Farm management
- Biotechnology research organisations etc.
1 Graduate Careers Australia, Agriculture, 2015
2 GraduateOpportunities, Agriculture, 2015
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