Do you like working outdoors in the fresh air, or like the idea of working with animals? You might enjoy working with engines or machinery, or want to help save the world from the impact of global warming! If this all seems wide ranging, then you will find that this career area stretches across many disciplines, abilities and areas of expertise, from science or forestry to fishing or mechanics.
Lantra (the Sector Skills Council for food based and environmental businesses) have developed a new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) resource, which highlights how STEM is used within landbased, environmental conservation and aquaculture careers. This helps to demonstrate the range of careers available in these sectors.
What areas can I work in?
This career area is concerned with the natural world and appeals to those interested in animal care, the countryside, planting and landscaping, and the environment.
Jobs and courses are available in agriculture, aquaculture and fishing, arboriculture and horticulture, earth studies, environmental and rural resource management, environmental services, forestry and working with animals.
To see the routes to getting into each of these sectors, take a look at our Career Pathway.
What kind of companies can I work for?
Possible employers include:
agricultural chemical manufacturing companies
arable or livestock farms
stables and riding schools
zoos and wildlife parks
What’s the job market like?
According to Lantra, advances in technology, such as automation to reduce human labour, means there is increasing demand for highly skilled staff in this industry. As well as essential skills and knowledge, for example, health and safety, literacy and numeracy, the most sought-after skills are:
ICT (such as robotics), and
leadership and management (successful planning, entrepreneurial skills, knowledge skills).
In many cases, job prospects can depend on where you live, or are prepared to live, as well as on the type of work you do and your qualifications.
The workforce in the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing sector is spread across Scotland, with the highest distributions in the Highlands and Islands, Tayside, South of Scotland, Aberdeen City and Shire, and Dumfries and Galloway.
Mid-term forecasts (2022-2025) indicate that there will be 10,200 job openings in the sector, due to new job growth and job replacement demand (due to factors such as retirement).
Growing awareness of climate change and the need for sustainable development is also creating opportunities for younger entrants with transferable skills.
Facts and figures
Aquaculture contributes £1.8 billion annually to the Scottish Economy and employs around 8,800 people.
The Aquaculture 2030 Strategy aims to double the economic contribution of the aquaculture industry to £3.6 billion. It is estimated this will generate over 9,000 jobs in the sector, establishing Scotland as a global leader in the industry.
The level of workforce qualifications held by the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing sector in 2022 was: SCQF Level 1-4 (10%); SCQF Level 5 (17%); SCQF Level 6 (15%); SCQF Level 7-10 (42%); and SCQF Level 11-12 (11%). Take a look at the Career Pathway at the end of this article and you can see which qualifications are at each level.
2022 UK employment figures for the following occupations are: Skilled agricultural and Related Trades - 335,900; Animal care services occupations (excluding vets and vet nurses) - 97,500; Vets - 26,200; Vet nurses - 16,600; Conservation Professionals - 32,600; Environment Professionals - 53,300.
Forestry and timber processing accounts for £771 million of Gross Value Added (GVA) every year in Scotland. It also provides more than 30,000 jobs across the wood production, forest management, haulage and processing sectors.
The horticulture and landscaping industry is worth over £9 billion to the UK economy each year and supports the employment of around 340,000 people.
Want to find out more?
Lantra is the Sector Skills Council for food based and environmental businesses. You can find more information about the sectors it covers and related careers and training pathways on the Lantra Careers website.
Aquaculture Growth to 2030 Report, Salmon Scotland website (June 2023)
Labour Market Profile - Employment by occupation, Nomis (June 2023)