Careers in the agriculture and animal services industry don’t have to mean working out on the farm or in a field all day. There’s plenty of opportunities within the industry that involve working with people and business that support the traditional rural agriculture that you’re probably imagining. There’s a huge amount of variability and because of this, there’s a tonne of pathways to follow if you’re interested. Aside from your obvious vets and farmers that slot into this category, there’s plenty of business and science based opportunities such as forestry scientist or stock and station agents, as well as alternative animal caring positions such as wildlife rehabilitator and animal shelter manager to consider if you’re keen.
Will it suit me?
Once upon a time agriculture based occupations might have been defined by manual labour. While there’s still opportunities for this kind of work, they are declining so nowadays, there’s a lot more business and other highly skilled areas to get involved in. If you have a sharp mind and aren’t keen on getting your hands dirty, agriculture could be a good industry for you. On the flipside, if you’re an animal lover and want to get stuck into practical and hands on work, there’s plenty of positions for that as well.
What can I do?
Zookeeper, farm hand, sheep shearer, groomer, kennel attendant, pet sitter, dog walker, vet assistants, vet, lab animal caretaker, trainer, animal control worker, breeder, conservation land manager, park ranger, guide dog trainer, wildlife rehabilitator, aquarist, apiarist (beekeeper), animal shelter manager, gardener, groundskeeper, agriculture and forestry scientist, agricultural technicians, agricultural consultant, agricultural/forestry/horticultural operators, stock and station agents, deck and fishing hands, logging workers, nursery labourers, livestock farmers, meat/poultry/seafood process workers, nurserypersons, shearers, packers, product quality controllers.
How can I get there?
Good news- you can get into a lot of entry level positions in the agriculture and animal industry with a Certificate (that you can attain through TAFE). From there, you can build on your knowledge with practical, on-the-job training. Unpaid positions such a volunteering a local shelters or zoos can help you get your foot in the door in animal care occupations, but for more science based jobs (think vets, or agriculture and forestry scientists) you need higher qualifications like Diplomas, Advanced Diplomas or Bachelor degrees.
Is it a good industry?
Like a lot of industries, you might have to complete some unpaid work to rack up some experience to secure a stable job and get ahead of other applicants. In saying that, volunteer positions at zoos, shelters and sanctuaries will give you the opportunity to build on your experience. Plus, in the case of shelters and sanctuaries, there’s the added benefit of being able to look after animals that might not have homes at all. In terms of agriculture, going into this industry doesn’t mean you need to work on a farm- there’s a lot of variability and diversity so don’t fall for the trap of thinking you’ll be out working the fields day in and day out.