Agricultural Consultant

How to Get a Job or Start a Business as an Agricultural Consultant

Farmers use consultants when they need expertise or services that go beyond their own capabilities. Agricultural experts are also employed as consultants by government bodies and private companies that service the agricultural industry.

If you are going to make a career as an agricultural consultant; you need to find one or more services that you can provide which farmers or service providers need and cannot provide for themselves.

Agricultural Consultants need to develop and maintain a level of expertise in some area of agriculture which goes beyond the "average" person working in the industry. They are often, but not always graduates of substantial courses (degrees, diplomas or higher), with years of experience in their area of specialisation (eg. soil fertility, pest management or water management). Some consultants simply "grow" or "evolve" into the job. (eg. If you have a particular interest such as a breed of animal or variety of crop, and you spend a lot of time researching and trying out new things with that interest; your knowledge will grow naturally, and often a reputation can grow at the same time. This sometimes leads to you becoming a recognised "expert" and consultant; irrespective of the qualifications you do or do not have). 

If you want to be a consultant, you need to first identify your own capabilities, understand what farmers need and position yourself to be able to meet those needs effectively and efficiently.


Typical Consulting Jobs

  • Research
  • Project Management
  • Laboratory Services -Soil analysis, leaf analysis, pathology testing, etc
  • Farm auditor and planner
  • Irrigation Designer
  • Pest and Disease Consultant
  • Environmental auditor
  • Animal Trainer

Remuneration and Advancement Opportunities

If you can find a service that is in high demand, short supply and makes a significant difference to farm profitability, you can build a very strong and profitable service business

Risks & Stresses

Consulting can be lucrative, but that all depends upon the economic strength of the industry and those you consult. The viability of any agricultural enterprise is dependant upon external factors such as weather (drought, flood) and markets (supply and demand; both local and overseas prices). When times are good, work opportunity and remuneration can be good; but when times are bad, the workplace can become more stressful and opportunities less certain. Enterprises that are less susceptible to such fluctuations are likely to be more secure, less stressful and offer more opportunity for advancements. This varies depending upon the type of farm, and the financial position of the employer.

If your area of expertise is fashionable, your job opportunities might be higher than if it is not.

Certain events can also affect opportunities. If a government allocates more funding to research, development or other projects; extra work for consultants can arise. If a natural disaster (eg. flood, earthquake) occurs, consultants may be needed to help in reconstruction or future planning.

How to Distinguish Yourself from the Competition

Become a specialist in something that there is a shortage of specialists in.

Look for what will be in demand in 5 years time (because it may take 5 years for you to acquire the expertise and establish a reputation). It is pointless becoming an expert in something that people need today; but where those needs will have been satisfied and no longer exist in 5 years.

Study a different combination of modules or a different course. Be sure to only study courses that enhance your ability to think laterally -something that is critical for success in research.

Remain flexible -If you have a solid, broad based foundation in agriculture, it is much easier to move from one area of expertise to another as times and demand changes. Ensure you have good generic skills (eg. a foundation in plant and animal sciences, soil science; research techniques), and maintain strong networks within industry (eg. Get involved with industry bodies, attend trade shows and conferences, etc).


Recommended Courses

A good starting point might be a Certificate in Agriculture (click to see details) . If you have the time (at least 10 hrs a week), it would be even better to do an Associate Diploma or Diploma.

Another option may be to start with a shorter single 100 hour course such as Farm Management


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