Summary of occupation
Agricultural consultants provide advice to farmers and farm managers on how to improve crop or livestock production and offer solutions to problems with pests, weeds and crop or livestock disease. They develop procedures and techniques for solving agricultural problems and improving farm production in areas such as feeding programs, soil improvement and animal husbandry. They may also assist farmers in business analysis, the arrangement of sales, act as a mediator or broker, or run farms for absentee owners.
Advises farmers, agricultural businesses, rural industries and government on the production, processing and distribution of farm products.
An agricultural consultant needs:
- a strong interest in agriculture, production methods, and the environment
- a high level of communication skills to develop productive relationships with clients
- planning, analysing and problem-solving abilities
- the ability to make accurate and detailed observations
- an understanding of business principles
- patience and sound negotiation skills.
Agricultural consultants divide their time between being out on the road consulting with farmers, conducting field research, and writing up reports in their offices. They may work in a diverse range of agricultural specialisations such as vegetable, wheat, canola or dairy farming. Their hours of work can vary considerably, depending on the type of work being carried out.
On average, agricultural consultants, classified under agricultural and forestry scientists, can expect to earn between $1 500 and $1 999 per week ($78 000 and $103 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As an agricultural consultant develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.
Agricultural consultants use computers to research, keep records and prepare reports. They need to understand the elements of business planning, financial reports and be familiar with farm management and business software. They need to be experienced in techniques for improving the production of crops or livestock related to their area of specialisation.
To become an agricultural consultant you usually need to complete a degree in agribusiness or a science degree with a major in agricultural science or a related field.
Some universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.
If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
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If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.