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Career Options for Postgraduate Agriculture Students

One of the greatest things about the agricultural industry is that there are a number of career opportunities available within this industry depending upon your particular area of interest. If you’re still in the process of choosing a  further course of study (or even if you’re still trying to decide how valuable postgraduate study may be)  then you may want to consider just exactly what exactly a qualification will enable you to do...


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Agricultural scientist


Agricultural science covers many scientific specialist areas, including plant, animal, soil and crop science. Agricultural scientists research and test new methods of farming and perform tasks such as collecting and analysing information, efficiently distributing resources, increasing crop output and conducting research on subjects such as animal and plant diseases, pest control or the use of chemicals in food production and farming.


Salary guide


A newly qualified agricultural scientist may earn from £17,000 to £22,000 a year. With experience, salaries can rise to around £30,000 to £35,000 a year. Salaries in senior posts or for some teaching jobs could be £50,000 or more.


Food scientist/technologist


Food scientists and technologists develop and ensure the safety of a wide range of products for consumers. They use scientific methods to ensure that products are wholesome, nutritious, safe and attractive to consumers. Food scientists generally carry out research and quality testing, using their knowledge of the nature and composition of food materials and their behaviour under various conditions.


Duties can include working on newly discovered ingredients and inventing new recipes and ideas, modifying foods such as the creation of fat-free products, conducting experiments and producing sample products, and designing the processes and machinery for making products in large quantities.



The UK has thousands of food companies that produce dairy goods, animal feed or meat/poultry products as well as confectionery and ready meals for the retail and catering trade. All of these organisations will, to some extent, require food experts to develop, test and devise production strategies.



Salary guide


Entry level salaries for those working in the food science sector equates to £20,000-£25,000 rising to £30,000-£40,000 with more experience. Senior management positions can attract salaries of over £65,000.


Forest officer


Forest officers take responsibility for the development and production of forests, ensuring that they are economically viable and open for recreational purposes without having a negative impact upon the forest’s eco-system. Working with a number of people such as landowners, timber merchants , local authorities, members of the public and professionals, they will plan annual forestry work programmes to maintain the ecological balance of the UK woodlands.


The largest employer of forest officers is the Forestry Commission, although it is possible to find work on private estates, forest management companies, government agencies, local authorities and conservation organisations. In fact, the UK tree and timber industry employs over 30,000 people, so there are strong job opportunities for experienced forest officers.



There is stiff competition for vacancies and most direct entrants will have taken an undergraduate or postgraduate course accredited by the Institute of Chartered Foresters (ICF), the Royal Chartered body for foresters and arboriculturists in the UK. Successful completion of these courses leads to Associate Membership of the Institute.



Having entered employment, it is impossible to seek chartered forester status with the institute of Chartered Foresters through Professional Membership Entry (PME). Promotion prospects can vary, so chartered status may be required for career progression, particularly into more scientific, research-based work or wider management responsibilities. Some forest officers become self-employed consultants while others move overseas with large multinational companies.



Salary guide


Starting salaries may be £16,000-£21,000, rising to around £25,000 with experience. Senior Forestry Commission forest officers may earn around £30,000 or more. Private sector salaries vary widely.

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