Undergraduate qualifications

Agriculture and environmental sciences interest fields

How do my career interests link with this field?

Read the following statements and select the statements that apply to you. The more statements you choose that apply to you, the higher your interest in this career field.

Agriculture and environmental sciences
(main motivation: environmental care and working outdoors)

  • agriculture
  • caring for the environment
  • developing sustainable resources
  • fixing things
  • life sciences
  • physical activity
  • working with animals
  • working with clothing
  • working with my hands
  • working with plants

Career fields, possible job titles and work environments

The following is a list of career areas linked to agriculture and environmental sciences, together with a description, possible job titles and work environments. Click on the career field to read more about the field, possible job titles and work environments.

Remember that this information is a start for you to explore options related to specific career fields - you will need to expand your research as you continue with your studies. Download the Career research document to learn more about how you could find information related to your career decision.

Agriculture and animal health

Agricultural studies focus on how to produce, finance, manage and market agricultural products, breed farm animals and promote the health and wellbeing of animals, and cultivate plants. Additionally, agricultural studies focus on knowledge of natural resource management and the environmental and community issues that affect agricultural production such as soil, forests, wildlife, plant pests/diseases, processing of food/value adding and socio- economic aspects.

Animal Health is a para-veterinary field that focuses on the detection, control, and prevention plus management of both controlled and non-controlled animal diseases. The field also focuses on veterinary public health which involves the understanding and application of veterinary medical science to enhance the complete physical, mental, and social well-being of humans. Graduates of animal health bridge the gap between rural communities, farmers and veterinarians.

Animal Welfare is also a para-veterinary field that focuses on how to ensure that companion animals (horses, cats and dogs) are treated with respect, compassion and care, and that their physical and mental well-being are protected and promoted.  

Animal and Plant Sciences are the cradle on which agricultural research, development and production are founded. Whereas Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Management Sciences provide the pertinent control tools.

Related job titles

Careers in this field focuses on agriculture and animal health and these include plant scientist, animal scientist, development officer; extension officer; farm manager; agricultural economist; food safety consultant; animal health technician; pharmaceutical representative; meat inspector; stock farm manager; laboratory technician, consultants, educators (with further educational qualifications), researcher and research assistant. With a certificate in animal welfare, you can work as an Animal Welfare assistant. Work opportunities include working with animal welfare organisations, animal sanctuaries, and as a Veterinary Welfare Assistant.

Possible work environments related to agriculture and animal health

  • Agribusiness organisations
  • Agricultural research facilities
  • Animal sanctuaries
  • Animal welfare organisations
  • Government (local, national or provincial)
  • Higher education institutions (public and private universities, universities of technology & colleges)
  • Research councils (eg South African Agricultural Research Council)
  • SABS
  • Veterinary practices (as a veterinary assistant)

Find out more about careers in this field

Consumer sciences

Consumer Sciences focuses on the study of consumer behaviour and the applied sciences in the disciplines of food, nutrition, hospitality management and clothing and textiles. The qualifications offer the student entrepreneurial and/or employment opportunities in organisations in the public or private sectors.

Related job titles

  • Consumer educator
  • Clothing buyer and merchandiser
  • Consumer journalist
  • Consumer advisor
  • Entrepreneur
  • Events planner
  • Hospitality manager
  • Educators (with further educational qualifications)
  • Researcher
  • Research assistant

Possible work environments related to consumer sciences

  • Clothing and clothing construction companies
  • Community-based organisations
  • Food, nutrition and catering companies
  • Food processing factories
  • Research organisations
  • Research organisations related to consumer behaviour and the promotion of products
  • Higher education institutions (public and private universities, universities of technology & colleges)
  • Training institutions

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Environmental management

A number of career opportunities have arisen as a result of sustainability concerns: managing our natural resources for future generations. The environment offers many exciting, interesting and satisfying career choices across a wide range of fields and disciplines. A career in the environmental field is rewarding because you can contribute to the maintenance and conservation of essential life systems necessary for our survival.

There are two main routes you can follow:

  • the social environmental perspective or
  • the environmental science perspe

These two perspectives complement one another, and effective environmental management combines both.

Related job titles

  • Environmental assessment practitioner
  • Environmental manager
  • Environmental researcher
  • Environmental campaign co-ordinator
  • Environmental planner
  • Environmental liaison officer

Possible work environments related to environmental management

  • Community-based organisations
  • Environmental impact assessment and research organisations
  • Government (local, national or provincial)
  • Publishers
  • Tourism organisations

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Geography deals with the world around us. Studying geography will help you understand why places are the way they are and what role humans, places, phenomena and processes play in continually shaping the world we live in.  Of particular importance is our focus on the interaction between people and their environment to make sense of our world. Geography may be taken as a major in the general BSc or BA programmes as well as the Environmental Management Programme.

Related job titles

  • Cartographer, community liaison officer
  • Disaster risk management analyst
  • Geospatial analyst
  • Geopolitical analyst
  • Geomorphologist, environmental officer
  • Environmental consultant
  • Planning and development surveyor
  • Transport planner
  • GIS Analyst
  • Hydrologist
  • Urban planner
  • Tourism officer
  • Geographer within a variety of social and/or natural sciences fields

Possible work environments related to geography

  • Government departments, provincial administrations and municipalities
  • Private industries such as travel agencies, manufacturing firms, property development corporations and communication firms
  • Private rural and urban planning firms
  • Research institutions such as the CSIR

Find out more about careers in this field

Life sciences

The focus of life sciences is on biological sciences and includes the fields of botany, biochemistry, biomedical sciences, biotechnology, genetics, microbiology, physiology, and zoology. Specialists in these fields can be found in a variety of working environments such as hospitals, food manufacturing, the pharmaceutical industry, diagnostic and research laboratories (government and independent), research institutes, and forensic investigation.

Related job titles

  • Biochemist
  • Biotechnologist
  • Botanist
  • Ecologist
  • Forensic analyst
  • Geneticist
  • Laboratory technician
  • Microbiologist
  • Pharmaceutical sales representative
  • Physiologist
  • Quality analyst
  • Researcher
  • Research assistant
  • Zoologist

Possible work environments related to life sciences

  • Agricultural companies
  • Breweries
  • Chemical manufacturers
  • Dairy, food and meat processing plants
  • Government departments (eg Trade and Industry, Health, Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Water Affairs and Forestry)
  • Health maintenance organisations
  • Hospitals and pathology laboratories
  • Leather manufacturers
  • Museums
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Public organisations (eg National Botanical Institute and the National Parks Board)
  • Pulp and paper processing industries
  • Regional government and councils
  • Research and development laboratories
  • Research organisations (medical, industrial, agricultural, mining)
  • SAPS

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Nature conservation

Nature conservationists contribute to the conservation and management of protected and natural areas. The focus of the programme is on all components of the ecosystem and their response to changes in both natural and anthropogenically modified landscapes. Students will develop an understanding of ecology, ecosystems and scientifically based conservation / wildlife management to ensure biodiversity and sustainability.

Related job titles

  • Conservation manager or researcher or technician
  • Wildlife manager
  • Veld manager
  • Nature conservationist
  • Natural resource conservationist
  • Social ecologist
  • Environmental educator

Possible work environments related to nature conservation

  • Government departments (eg Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, Department of Tourism)
  • Municipalities and regional service councils
  • National Parks Board
  • Provincial authorities

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Ornamental horticulture

Ornamental horticulture consists of ornamental plant production, cultivation, marketing and maintenance, floriculture and landscape horticulture with a focus on the urban environment (home gardens, industrial sites, botanical gardens and public open spaces).

Ornamental horticulture focuses on how to breed, propagate and grow plants while landscape horticulture focuses on designing, implementing and maintaining landscapes using plants in artistic and pleasing ways. In addition, students learn the basic principles of plant science and the use of plants.

If you love the idea of being an artist working with plants and other natural objects on your palette, then this programme of study may be right for you.

Related job titles

  • Garden centre or retail nursery assistant owner or manager
  • Horticultural consultant or technician horticulturist
  • Plant propagator or plant breeder
  • Landscape design, installation or maintenance specialist
  • Botanic garden manager or curator
  • City council parks and recreation manager

Possible work environments related to ornamental horticulture

  • Agricultural companies
  • Agricultural holdings
  • Forestry and fisheries
  • Fruit, vegetable and flower farms
  • Government departments (eg Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Department of Agriculture, Department of Land Affairs, Department of Public Works)
  • Local government
  • Manufacturers of pesticides, fungicides and fertilisers
  • National Parks Board
  • Nurseries and botanical gardens
  • Pharmaceutical companies, private clinics and practices
  • Research institutes
  • Research institutions
  • Seed production companies
  • Sports clubs and public or private recreational facilities

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Further career information