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Environment Animals Plants

Employees in this sector look after the countryside, rivers and lakes, forests, gardens, parks, sports grounds and urban areas, or work with plants or animals.

Careers are available in:

  • farming, fishing, countryside management and conservation
  • landscape design and management, forestry, gardening, tree surgery and horticulture
  • veterinary work
  • animal care work, including zoo keeping, animal grooming and horse training.

This sector covers a wide range of jobs at all levels, from professional careers, for example, landscape architect or veterinary surgeon, to skilled and semi-skilled jobs, such as farm or forest worker.

Many jobs in this sector involve working outdoors, in all weather conditions. Working hours are often flexible, depending on the demands of the job. For example, agricultural and horticultural work is seasonal, so working arrangements vary according to the time of year. People working in veterinary surgeries, zoos, kennels and public gardens may work on a shift basis. Part-time and casual work is regularly available in some areas.

Employers include conservation organisations, charitable trusts, government bodies, local authorities, private sector companies and landowners, veterinary practices, visitor attractions, farms and stables. Most people in this sector are employed by small businesses. Self-employment is common in certain career areas.

Over one million people are employed in environmental and land-based industries. Jobs are available throughout the UK and abroad, in both urban and rural areas.

All roles require enthusiasm and a strong interest in the environment, conservation, or animal or plant care. Physical fitness, practical skills, adaptability, communication skills and the ability to work in a team are important for most jobs.

This is a popular area of work, so there can be a lot of competition for posts. However, certain skills are in demand. For many jobs, the right personal skills and qualities (as outlined above) are the main conditions for entry. For other jobs, relevant qualifications are required. It is possible to prepare for work in this sector by taking a course in environmental and land-based studies, such those leading to a Diploma. More specific qualifications are also available. For some jobs, a relevant higher education qualification is required for entry. Sometimes a postgraduate qualification is useful or necessary. Many employers ask for relevant work experience.

Employers usually provide on-the-job training. Some people attend college on a part-time basis to work towards qualifications. NVQs and other work-related qualifications can be gained in the workplace. Apprenticeships are available in some areas, for example in animal care, agriculture, environmental conservation and veterinary nursing.

With experience, it may be possible to progress to supervisory or managerial posts. Large organisations may offer opportunities for promotion, but sometimes it may be necessary to move to a different employer to progress.

Why not have a look at other career family articles as they may hold information on related jobs.

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