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Career Options in Environment, Agriculture & Conservation: School Leaver

What is the industry about?

Working in the environment, agriculture and conservation industry is ideal for those who love getting their fingers green and enjoy working outside, whatever the weather. You also might be a bit of a sucker for TV shows such as Countryfile. Working in this industry will also put you on the frontline of some hot topics such as climate change, carbon emissions and genetically modified food.

There’s loads of jobs you can do too. Whether you want to learn more about the science of the environment and world around us through further and higher education, or fancy getting stuck in straight away by managing plants, trees, gardens, forests or farmland and learning how you could manage your own farm in the future.

Fear not, the industry isn’t full of old aged farmers singing that they’ve ‘got a brand new combine harvester’. The industry focusses on the use and protection of the environment – from national efforts such as recycling to supermarkets encouraging shoppers to buy British. Being green is now popular, and companies are also looking for young people who have grown up in a green to introduce new shiny initiatives to help them be friendlier to the environment. 

What opportunities are available to me?

- Intermediate Apprenticeship

- Advanced Apprenticeship

- Higher Apprenticeship

- Further and higher education

The environment, agriculture and conservation industry is accessible from any stage following completion of the trusty ol’ GCSEs. Intermediate Apprenticeships could you see becoming a farm worker or pig technician (yes, that is an actual job title) or maybe a conservation or recycling officer. Alternatively, you could become a fishery assistant and become part of the fish husbandry sector. This particular sector is crying out for apprentices who have been fully trained due to the ever-developing regulations. It’s also a really rewarding job – what’s better than caring for fish, preventing them from catching diseases and enhancing the environment around them?

Advanced Apprenticeships are also available to school leavers wanting to work in the environment, agriculture and conservation industry. Reckon you could be an effective environmental management officer or an assistant farm manager? An Advanced Apprenticeship is for you. But why stop there when you can go a step further and get yourself onto a Higher Apprenticeship? You could become a farm manager and earn up to smooth £50,000 when you finish you training.

If you don’t think an Apprenticeship is for you and definitely know that working in the environment, agriculture and conservation isn’t about painting yourself green and tying yourself to a tree, further and higher education is an option. You could get yourself some A Levels and a degree in environmental science before going on to become an agricultural scientist or engineer.

Setting the school leaver record straight

Yes, we know. There’s always one loudmouth in the classroom that rants on and on (and on) about how Apprenticeships aren’t worth doing and that the only way to get a job these days is by studying for A Levels and a degree. Oh, and you have to get full marks too.

What utter rubbish! All industries, and the environment, agriculture and conservation one in particular, can be accessed from any stage and the opportunities for school leavers is vast. Additionally, if you want a hands-on career where you’re not going to be stuck in an office or lab, then an Apprenticeship is a better option than further and higher education. The number of Apprenticeships are vast and you will earn while you learn. The potential salary you can earn is pretty salivating too.

Formal education: should I stay or should I go?

It depends entirely on what kind of career you want. If you want to be a farm manager, woodland ranger or ecologist, there are Apprenticeships available for you to undertake. However, if you want to follow a career as an animal nutritionist or agricultural consultant, you will need to go on to further and higher education.

Subjects to consider studying at A level include biology, geography and economics and you can go on to study agriculture, environmental science, environmental geophysics, meteorology and oceanography and climate science.