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The occupational structure of the sector differs significantly from the average across all sectors of the economy. Sector employment is concentrated in:

  • Skilled trade occupations (e.g. farmer, stockman, and grounds people) account for a third of UK jobs in the sector, and more than 40% in Wales and Northern Ireland. This compares to just 11% across all sectors.
  • Elementary occupations (e.g. farm worker, seasonal worker) account for 26% of UK jobs, and 32% in Scotland.

Source: Lantra AACS LMI report 2010 and Skill Assessment for the Environmental and Land-based sector UK 2009

Occupational skills

A significant proportion of employers have problems finding people with the skills they need when they are looking to take on new recruits. 61% of establishments agree that they had difficulty in recruiting staff with the required skills.

The skills considered, most often, to be in need of improvement within the sector are those categorised as technical or job specific. Softer skills including problem solving, team working and oral communication are also frequently reported by employers as other areas requiring improvement.

Business skills (such as marketing, sales and finance) and management skills are becoming increasingly important within the sector, especially amongst business owners and staff in management positions.

Source: Skill Assessment for the Environmental and Land-based sector UK 2009

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Occupational hard-to-fill vacancies and skill shortage vacancies

  • 7% of employers in the sector report vacancies, compared to 12% across all sectors.
  • 3% report hard-to-fill vacancies, compared to 3% across all sectors.
  • The impact of hard-to-fill vacancies is reported to be increased workload for other staff (78%) and increased operating costs (47%).
  • 15% of establishments report skills gaps, compared to 19% across all sectors.

2% of environmental and land-based sector employers report skill shortage vacancies, compared to 3% of employers across all sectors. 1,100 skills shortage vacancies for high skilled occupations, which accounts for 43% of all skills shortage vacancies. Employers are particularly likely to be experience skill-shortage vacancies for skilled trades occupations.

Skills gaps are highest for those in skilled trades (23%), followed by those in elementary roles (21%). Gaps are reported to be for technical and practical skills, customer-handling, team-working and problem solving. Employers report that the main cause of skill gaps amongst employees is a lack of experience. A lack of staff motivation, failure to train and an inability of the workforce to keep up with change are also commonly reported. Employers expect employees will need new skills or knowledge as a result of:

  • New legislative and/or regulatory requirements
  • New technologies or equipment

Source: National Employer Skills Survey 2009 and Skill Assessment for the Environmental and Land-based sector UK 2009

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Pay scales in this industry are variable, so the following only provides an indication of the average annual salary paid to some full-time positions:

Land management and production

Agricultural crops

  • Managers and Proprietors in Agriculture and Services £33,650
  • Farm Managers £26,525
  • Skilled Agricultural Trades £16,816
  • Farmers £18,427
  • Agricultural Machinery Drivers £22,123
  • Farm Workers £16,637

Trees and timber

  • Forestry Managers £29,861
  • Forestry Workers £19,535

Agricultural livestock

  • Managers and Proprietors in Agriculture and Services £33,650
  • Farm Managers £26,525
  • Skilled Agricultural Trades £16,816
  • Farmers £18,427
  • Agricultural Machinery Drivers £22,123
  • Farm Workers £16,637


  • A new fence installer can earn between £11,000 - £15,000 a year
  • Experienced fence installers can earn from £18,000 to over £20,000

Production horticulture

  • Horticulture Managers £29,861
  • Horticultural Trades £14,318
  • Plant Area Managers can earn between £15,000 - £30,000
  • Nursery Manager is £24,348
  • Nursery sales managers can earn up to £46,000 a year at larger nurseries


  • Fish farm workers can earn between £13,000 - £18,000 a year
  • Managers can earn around £38,000

Land-based engineering

  • Land-based engineer can start on around £18,000 to £24,000, Incorporated land-based engineers can earn up to £40,000, whilst a Chartered land-based engineer can earn £60,000 or more
  • Land-based technician apprentice can start on £8,000 - £10,000, rising to £38,000 or more for diagnostic technicians with advanced skills
  • Agricultural Engineering Technician can start on between £12,000 - £13,000 a year, with qualifications this can rise to between £13,500 - £20,000. Senior agricultural technicians can earn up to £25,000.


  • Earnings for new entrants to floristry can be around the National Minimum Wage
  • Experienced florists can earn around £16,000 to over £18,000
  • Managers can earn around £25,000

Animal health and welfare:

Animal care

  • Animal Care Services £13,489
  • Animal Care Occupations £12,737
  • Gross annual salary of animal care business owners is between £20,000 - £24,999 and between £10,000 - £14,999 for employees.

Animal technology

  • Trainee Technician £12,000 - £15,000
  • Technician £15,000 - £20,000
  • Senior Technician £20,000 - £28,000
  • Chief Technician £28,000 - £35,000
  • Manager £35,000 - £40,000 plus


  • Horse groom – grooms with BHS Stage 3 or a national diploma can earn around £12,500 per year, rising to around £16,000 with experience. Head lads/girls in a racing yard can earn £20,000 plus.
  • Horse riding instructor – starting salaries for trainee and assistant instructors can be between £12,000 and £15,000 a year, rising to £25,000 with experience.
  • Riding holiday leader – between £12,000 and £17,000 per year, depending on qualifications and experience.
  • Riding holiday centre manager – starting salaried on around £15,000 per year, rising to £20,000 plus with experience.


  • Salaries range from around £8,500 up to £35,000 a year for experienced farriers.

Veterinary nursing and ancillary activities

  • Qualified veterinary nurse £16,635
  • Degree veterinary nurse £15,838
  • 1st Year Student £10,516
  • 2nd Year Student £11,574
  • ANA/VCA £10,609
  • Other staff (including receptionists, office staff, practice managers) £13,934

Environmental industries:

Environmental conservation

  • Natural Environment and Conservation Managers £40,845
  • Conservation and Environmental Management Officers £29,035
  • Countryside and Park Rangers £22,180

Game and wildlife management

  • Gamekeepers can earn from around £11,000 to £18,000. Employers often provide free or cheap accommodation and a vehicle.
  • Countryside ranger working for a local authority can earn from around £16,000 to over £20,000
  • Estate worker can earn around £14,000, rising to up to £22,500 with experience and into supervisory position

Fisheries management

  • Fish farm workers can earn between £13,000 - £18,000, managers can earn around £38,000
  • Water bailiffs or fisheries officers can start on around £14,500, rising to £26,500 with experience. Those in a management post can earn £29,000 or more.

Horticulture, landscaping and sports turf

  • Horticulture Managers £29,861
  • Horticultural Trades £14,318
  • Gardeners and Grounds people £16,764

Further information on salaries can be found on the Defra, British Horse Racing and British Veterinary Nursing Association websites.

Source: Lantra AACS LMI report 2010 and Next Step website

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Occupational roles and sources of information

Two Lantra careers websites have case studies illustrating possible careers in the sector. For young people, case studies are categorised by job sector on the A job in… website. Each case study is a brief overview of someone working in the job, their qualifications and future plans. For adults, case studies are on the A future in… website.

A variety of key roles in the environmental and land-based sector are identified by Graduate Prospects and detailed information is available. Some selected examples include: agricultural consultant/adviser; animal nutritionist; environmental education officer; farm manager; horticultural therapist; and plant breeder/geneticist. For information on the sector and gradaute roles in the sector go to the Prospects website.

The National Careers Service website also has detailed occupational profiles under the following categories: animals, plants and land and environmental sciences. These occupational profiles include information on entry points, training, working environment, employment opportunities and expected atemptempnnual salary.

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