So you want to work with animals and plants?

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There is a wide and expanding variety of job opportunities for those wanting a career working with animals and plants. Some jobs are of the traditional kind – where cows need to be milked and fields must be ploughed. But there are many other opportunities where people can apply their scientific and even artistic skills to the animals and plants they work with.

What does the future hold for jobs in the animal sector?

About 55,000 people in the UK are employed in animal retail, breeding, behaviour, welfare, zoos, wildlife parks and related public services, with a similar number working with horses. Many more work in science, research, animal health, animal feed and livestock.

Furthermore, the total number employed in the land-based workforce is expected to rise slightly – boosted by a growing interest in the environment and the welfare of animals – as farmers turn to alternative and more profitable forms of livestock farming and land use. Horse and other animal-related sectors are predicted to expand, as well as in other areas such as landscaping and commercial horticulture.

What about jobs working with plants?

The garden centre and nursery sector has also seen recent growth and gardening remains popular with members of the public. You might grow plants commercially such as flowers or vegetables, or use your planning and design skills to arrange them in gardens, public places or as indoor displays. Some jobs involve a problem-solving approach, working out why plants are not thriving as they should or combating pests which can affect crops.

Will I work regular hours working with animals & plants?

Animals and plants have to be cared for regardless of the time of day and whatever the weather. Some jobs can only be carried out in daylight hours or change according to the seasons, so winter timetables can be very different from summer ones.

What kind of qualifications do I need for animal & plant jobs?

There are excellent opportunities for young people in the landbased industries, including a range of work-based training and Apprenticeships (Skillseekers in Scotland) leading to National Vocational Qualifications/Scottish Vocational Qualifications (NVQs/SVQs). There are numerous qualifications available in these industries and many people build up a portfolio of certificates in specific skills and crafts. In addition, universities and colleges offer a wide range of full and part-time courses related to the land-based industries.

How soon can I get a job in the animal & plant sector?

The availability of work-based training in this sector makes it an excellent choice for schoolleavers who feel that a further academic career is not for them. Many of the people in this book have achieved their goals by continuing their learning through the vocational route, using their time in the workplace to gain essential skills and experience.

Do I need to have experience of working with animals or on a farm to succeed?

Not at all. Some people who choose careers in this sector have, but others have been attracted to this work because they like being outdoors or find the prospects of working in an office too restricting. However, most employers expect to see evidence of your interest such as voluntary or paid work experience on a farm, in a pet shop or in a garden centre.

Careers & jobs working with animals and plants

Modified: 16 June 2013

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