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Career Pathways in horticulture are many and various

The operations and contracted services involved in growing fruit and vegetables, harvesting, packing, storing and transporting them to markets at a high standard of quality for the consumer to buy and enjoy provide a wealth of career paths and job opportunities.

Whether you are in administration, marketing, agronomy or management, working in production horticulture can be a very rewarding career. A bonus is that at least some of the time you will be working outdoors, rather than in an office environment. Horticulture producers are now transforming the way they are doing business by embracing modern technology and innovation to enhance competitiveness, making careers in horticulture more exciting than ever.

Work in production horticulture is generally divided into three categories, namely operations, services and business.

Horticulture operations are those jobs that are involved in growing produce. Typical careers include:

  • Farm hand (involved in a wide range of growing and harvesting tasks such as harvesting crops, tractor driving, preparing crops for sale, propagating plants and maintaining irrigation systems)
  • Pre-harvest crop monitor (identifies any pests/diseases and assesses damage)
  • Field manager (manages contracted fields to ensure required quantity and quality is delivered)
  • Pack house manager (oversees pack house operations)
  • Quality controller (inspects the quality of the harvested crop to ensure it complies with regulated industry standards)
  • Agronomist (introduces different techniques and products to improve soil quality and control pests, and develops better farming conditions through improved planting areas)

Horticulture services enable the industry to operate at maximum efficiency and continually improve operations and produce. Typical careers include:

  • Research and development manager (develops, monitors and evaluates research trials to deliver solutions to production horticultural issues)
  • Transport logistics supervisor (coordinates various transportation processes such as load planning and pickup/delivery scheduling)
  • Irrigation extension officer (uses latest irrigation techniques and information to help increase production, use energy and water efficiently to reduce costs and control water run-off from the farm).

Horticulture business involves jobs that support the business side of the operation. Typical careers include:

  • Business administrator (manages clerical tasks and organisational systems)
  • Occupational health and safety officer (plans, develops, implements and promotes occupational health and safety programs)
  • Data management clerk (collects and inputs data regarding shipped produce)
  • Marketing manager (coordinates marketing functions, including planning, pricing and distribution).

Whether your interests are in science, research, design, finance, technology, politics or marketing, there is a job to suit all personality types.

Resources

Many people start by working on a farm and develop their career through apprenticeships, combining on-the-job training and practical experience with study through a registered training organisation (RTO). Others go straight from school to full-time vocational training or university course before entering the workforce. The choice is up to you and your capabilities.

To find out which Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) deliver agriculture or production horticulture-related qualifications visit the Australian Government’s myskills website. This easy-to-use website also provides information about average course duration and price, available funding support, the labour market, entry requirements and graduate satisfaction with the training.

The Food Innovation Australia Ltd website lists which universities deliver agriculture or production horticulture-related qualifications. This useful website includes an Australian map that enables you to search by state or territory.

The Ag Inspirations Program is an initiative that has been adapted from the Smith Family’s Work Inspirations program for use within the agricultural industry. Aimed at promoting careers in agriculture, it provides high school students with a taste of various jobs within the agricultural industry via a tour of real-life farms and/or agricultural suppliers and training providers. It also provides high school students with an opportunity to learn more about their personal strengths and the area of agriculture that best matches their interests.

Ag Inspirations relies on a collaborative approach between a number of stakeholders including the Queensland Agriculture Workforce Network, Agforce Schools to Industry Partnership Program, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland Department of Education and Training, agribusinesses and high schools among others.

A copy of the Ag Inspirations workbook for students is here.

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