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Career Options in Environment, Agriculture & Conservation: Graduate

The glorified days of the undergraduate degree are over, and you’re left standing alone in your graduation gowns as the storms of unemployment loom overhead. Okay, maybe we’re overreacting slightly. Graduation isn’t this bad and there are plenty of options available to you if you’re looking to break into the environment, agriculture and conservation industry.

Graduate opportunities

- Gap year

- Graduate schemes

- Entry level jobs

- Postgraduate study

You may believe gap years are for soon-to-be undergraduates who have a rich daddy and don’t actually say year properly (yah). Get this stereotype out of your head. Gap years can be taken by graduates and often are by those looking to get into the environment, agriculture and conservation industry. Perhaps you might like take up a paid opportunity abroad to work on conserving the rainforests or rare breeds. These provide you with valuable work experience but also allows you to experience different countries, continents and cultures.

Graduate schemes are another option. You may have been caught out by the surprisingly early deadlines or had too much university work on, but now that you’ve had more time to work out what you want to do and have found a scheme that tickles your fancy you can focus your efforts on that application. Your (former) university’s careers service may also offer alumni application and interview advice.

If you’ve prepared for the graduate storm (remember that metaphor from earlier) with internship experience and a strong network of industry, you may fancy applying for an entry level job. You may see yourself as an agricultural consultant offering advice to business on plant and animal conservation or land planning. A massive 90% of the businesses in the environment, agriculture and conservation industry are small or medium sized, so keep in touch with companies who you interned with to see if they’re expanding and can find a role for you.

Postgraduate study is popular in the environment, agriculture and conservation industry, with 9% of graduates going on to study at postgraduate level or do a conversion course. 12% combine training with work, clearly showing that there’s a lot of opportunities for you further your knowledge with a Master’s in environmental science, environmental management or climate change.

Will my degree do?

If you’re on the hunt for graduate schemes or entry level jobs, employees would prefer you to have achieved a 2:1 or higher in your undergraduate degree. That’s not to say they won’t consider you if you have a 2:2 alongside loads of relevant work experience.

Additionally, if you want to become big in the environmental science game by researching and coming up with new ways to conserve the planet and protect animals and livestock, you will need to undertake a master’s and PhD.

Is postgraduate study necessary?

It depends on what career you want to follow. For some careers, such as farm manager or recycling officer, an undergraduate degree isn’t even necessary. However, if you want to go into environmental science research and academia, postgraduate study is pretty much a necessity. For town planning or agricultural consultancy though, you can find yourself a job with your undergraduate degree.

It’s not just postgraduate academic qualifications that are available. If you want to be a agricultural engineer, you could undertake a qualification at the Institute of Agricultural Engineers that will see you become a chartered engineer, displaying your competencies and professionalism. 

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