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Careers and employment in agriculture (Part 3)


Other careers – people and companies listed on this website (continued)


If you work in chemical engineering, you will design and operate processes that turn raw materials (through physical, chemical, and thermal changes) into useful everyday products such as petrol, paper, fertilisers, pharmaceuticals, toothpaste, sugar, plastics, synthetic fibres, chemicals, explosives, and cement. You could also protect the environment by controlling the pollution of water and air.

Chemical engineers, chemical technicians, and Chemical technologists are careers here. Related specialisations are: Process design; Process control engineer; Biochemical engineer; Petrochemical engineer.


Civil engineering is probably the broadest of the engineering fields. Civil engineers create, improve, and provide facilities for living, industry, and transportation. In a civil engineering career you need to know about construction materials, soils, hydraulics, and fluid mechanics. You will also be concerned with protecting and conserving the environment.

Civil engineers are helped by civil engineering technicians, who do much of the practical and functional work, and civil engineering technologists, who do the more theoretical work such as planning, design, or research.


Community workers encourage and help groups to help themselves and to develop, that is, they help communities to identify their own needs, to take decisions, and to develop ways in which to meet those needs. Community workers travel within their communities and keep in close personal contact with them.


As an economist, you develop and apply theories about how people spend their money; processes involving the ways in which goods and services are produced, supplied, and used; and how businesses or governments allocate resources (e.g. natural resources, technology, labour, and capital or finance). If you are interested in economics, you might consider one of these careers:

  • Environment economist – studies the environmental impacts of projects and developments; advises industry and government on regulations for environmental and natural resource management; advises government about its responsibilities in terms of international agreements and environment treaties
  • Other – accountant; actuary; agricultural economist; conveyancer; industrial economist; political scientist; stockbroker

Education and training are essential in agriculture and beyond. It is a career which might interest you if you enjoy teaching and helping people to grow and develop their potential.

In addition to schools and tertiary institutions, there are also the following fields:

  • Human resources development practitioner. Here you would plan, prepare, and conduct training for employees in industry, businesses, and government departments, to help with skills development and raising productivity (including on-the-job training and apprenticeships).
  • Training officer. This involves planning, developing, implementing, and evaluating training and development programmes in organisations.
  • Adult educator — this career is practised mainly in the areas of professional development, adult basic education, skills development, and personal enrichment.

As a human resources (or personnel) manager, you would be concerned with people at work and their relationships with each other and with the organisation e.g. staffing, training or human resource development, organisation planning and development, labour relations, remuneration, research and administration.


People who work in information technology (IT) are concerned with giving computers instructions to carry out tasks (computer programming), designing and analysing computer programmes (systems analysis), administering databases and networks, operating computer systems, and designing hardware. IT-related occupations include website designer, network controller, computer consultant, electronics engineer, personal computer (PC) support technician, and Internet services and support technician.


As a laboratory technician or technologist, you help scientists (in the physical, chemical, biological, and life sciences) by collecting samples, carrying out experiments, taking measurements, and recording results. If you become a chemical laboratory technician or technologist, you will help to develop, produce, and use chemicals and related products.


As a lawyer, you provide legal advice, write documents, conduct negotiations on legal matters, and you may represent clients in courts of law. Not all lawyers practise as legal professionals; you can also use your knowledge in business-related matters such as industrial relations, taxation, commercial transactions, and the incorporation of new companies.


Tourism, leisure, and recreation are the fastest growing industry in South Africa, and offer an exciting future — in the areas of water-related leisure activities, ecotourism and many others. If leisure, sport, and recreation interest you as a career, there are many to choose from, such as working as a tourist manager, tour operator tour guide, tourist information officer, travel agent, or recreation manager/officer.


As a manager, you provide leadership for organisations to achieve their objectives. Managing a business includes organising, researching, planning, controlling, and directing all or part of the work of other employees. You would need to manage and motivate people so that they do their jobs well, and you might also need to manage resources, such as finances. Different types of managers perform different tasks:

  • Top management includes the chairman, board of directors, managing director or chief executive officer, and other high-ranking managers.
  • Functional managers manage specific functions or divisions within a company, such as administration, marketing, finances, or buying.
  • Operational managers are responsible for the way a business works, for example, credit and cost control, or production managers.
  • General manager is the chief manager, responsible for the work of a number of managers with specific responsibilities. She or he will have a broad background and does not work as a specialist in any particular field; this work combines functional and operational management.
  • Management consultant works independently as an advisor to businesses on management matters; investigates problems and provides solutions; helps with strategic planning.

If you work in marketing, you will have to find out what consumers want to buy and how to supply them with these products or services as cheaply and efficiently as possible. Other careers that involve marketing include public relations, copywriter, product developer, purchase manager, creative director, media director, and sales manager.

  • mathematician develops mathematical theories and methods (theoretical mathematics). In this work, you solve problems by applying mathematical principles and models and by carrying out operational research and numerical analyses (applied mathematics). You can apply mathematical and statistical principles in many different areas, including physics, medicine, computer science, ecology, industry, and commerce.
  • statistician collects, classifies, and analyses numerical information to make decisions and forecasts, for example, and to evaluate processes.
  • An actuary is a statistical expert, working on information to do with mortality, illness, unemployment, and retirement. In this career, your specialised functions are useful mainly for the insurance industry in developing life insurance policies, for instance, and medical aid and pension schemes.

As a mechanical engineer you design, develop, produce, install, operate, test, and maintain machinery and mechanical equipment. Mechanical engineers are assisted by mechanical engineering technologists and technicians, and all of them work closely with other professionals (e.g. with architects in designing air-conditioning plants). Mechanical engineers, technologists, and technicians normally specialise in a particular field and the mechanical equipment associated with it. Here are some examples:

  • Agriculture – tractors, threshing machines, harvesters, milking machines, and packing machines
  • Water – design and construct waterworks and waste and wastewater treatment plants
  • Power generation – steam, water, gas, and nuclear turbines used for driving power generators

Meteorologists study the Earth’s atmosphere and the changes in it that affect day-to-day weather, long-term climate, and extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes and tornadoes. You forecast the weather by examining trends in the atmosphere such as wind currents, precipitation, and air pressure. A related career is that of the meteorological technician; here you would be responsible for collecting meteorological information and for operating and maintaining weather observation networks.


As a political scientist, you study the way people behave politically as individuals, groups, and as a large mass and their relationship to society and the economy.


As a hydroelectric power plant process controller, you operate and control instruments and machinery used for generating electric power. Coal-fired or nuclear power plants also need process controllers. Process controllers can also work in the chemical, power generation, and some food and beverage industries.


In the field of public relations, you work at creating and maintaining a good image of your organisation and showing the public what is attractive or appealing about it. You establish two-way communication between an organisation and its audiences and/or the public (e.g. clients, other businesses, government, shareholders, special interest groups, employees, and communities). A related career would be personnel consulting.

  • Researchers add to the knowledge in their particular field. As a researcher, you look at what we know in your specialist area, and you test theories to see how true they are. You collect information and organise it in ways that make us look at it in a new way. You also are encouraged to develop new technologies where possible.
  • ‘Basic’ or ‘fundamental’ research, you study and try to uncover underlying principles and laws that govern the bio-physical world.
  • ‘Applied’ research, you look for practical ways to apply basic research.
  • ‘Innovation’ is the process of turning an idea that has been generated through research, into a new or improved product, process, or approach that addresses the real needs of society and involves scientific, technological, organisational, or commercial activities.

Social scientists are concerned with the origin and development of human society, and the institutions, relationships, and ideas in life in society. If you are interested in a career in the social sciences, you could consider the following:

  • Sociologist – examines the ways in which social groups (e.g. families, tribes, and communities) and institutions (e.g. religious, political, and business institutions) interact and influence each other and the behaviour of individuals.
  • Industrial sociologist – applies the principles of sociology to the organisation of workers and to the relationship between workers and employers, and is concerned with labour relations in complex industrial societies.
  • Anthropologist – studies the origin, development, and functioning of human societies and cultures, now and in the past, by looking, for example, at religion, family and kinship systems, languages, art, music, and economic and political systems. As an anthropologist, you may specialise as an applied anthropologist, a physical anthropologist, a linguistic anthropologist or a social/cultural anthropologist.

Social work is concerned with the well-being of people and helping them to cope with problems caused by poor social conditions, unemployment, and poverty.


Surveying (also called geomatics) is the science of measuring and mapping the layout of the face of the Earth, including natural and man-made features and the sea. After spending some years in the field, you may want to specialise as one of the following: Hydrographic surveyor; Land surveyor – also called a cadastral surveyorEngineering surveyor – surveys routes for pipelines, sewers, tunnels, roads, and railways; Topographic surveyor – measures and takes aerial photographs of the physical features of the Earth such as rivers, hills, and valleys in order to compile maps; Geodetic surveyor — accurately locates positions on the Earth’s surface using signals from satellites (e.g. the global positioning system or ‘GPS’), the positions of stars, and electronic distance and levelling measurements; Mine surveyor – establishes the boundaries of mines and measures underground and opencast mine workings; Remote sensing surveyor – monitors changes in the surface features of the Earth by using digital data from high-resolution satellites and other imagery systems in the sky.


Town and regional planners develop plans and policies for the use of resources and land and for improving people’s living conditions. You would be assisted by town and regional planning technicians.


As a welder, you join two or more pieces of metal by applying heat, pressure, or a combination of both. Brazing, soldering, electron beams, and laser beams are other methods of joining metals. With similar levels of qualifications, you could also become a boilermaker; tool, jig, and die maker; blacksmith; plumber; sheet metal worker; fitter and turner; panelbeater.

Sources: ; water@work 


Find the sub-heading “Bursaries” further down this page.

National strategy and government contact

Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD)

Directorate: Sector Education and Training Tel: 012 319 6628


Find the directorate’s web pages (take “Branches” and “Food Security & Agrarian Reform” options). Find information on the following, amongst other things:

  • External Bursary Scheme
  • Experiential training, Internship and Young Professional Development Programme
  • International study programmes

Read about Agricultural Technical Vocational Education and Training (ATVET) on the “Agricultural education and training” page.

Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET)

Tel: 0800 872 222 Career Helpline: 086 999 0123


Many students are unaware of the opportunities that exist “out there” other than university.

There are 50 Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges with 264 campuses all over the country which offer a range of programmes that cater for most students’ needs and interest ranging from engineering, business studies, art, music, to food services. Our country has a higher and urgent demand for artisans, technicians and engineers and other scarce skills that can be gained outside of universities.

Those who wish to enter the world of work or need to increase their skills capabilities can also consider the options of learnerships, apprenticeships and skills programmes run by the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) which cover each economic sector in the country.

Advice on careers may be obtained via the National Career Development Services website and the National Career Advice Portal (NCAP)

There is a Walk-in Centre at 123 Francis Baard Street in Pretoria, and the National Career Development Services website provides contact details of other various places where help can be sought:



The Central Application Service (CAS) is a service offered by DHET to capture the information of prospective applicants in January and February of each year. It directs prospective applicants throughout the post-school education and training (PSET) system to institutions where spaces were available. The CAS toll free number is 0800 356 635 where a call centre agent registers your details on the CAS database. You can also send an SMS with your name and ID number to 49200 and receive a call from a department contact centre agent who will register your details on CAS. You can also contact the centre via online at

Role players


Federation of African Professional Staffing Organisations (APSO)



  • The Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa (AEASA) offers the BD Nomvete Bursary to provide financial support for candidates to complete PhD programmes in agricultural economics or an approved related discipline. Visit for more information.
  • Providing bursaries is one avenue for companies who seek to fall into line with Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment legislation (Enterprise and Supplier Development/Corporate Social Investment). At the same time, they will be sourcing future (suitable) candidates for employment within their ranks. Find out what is available from companies within the agricultural area in which you have an interest.
  • L&L Agricultural Services Bursary Application Centre
  • Career Wise Bursary Services
  • DALLRD bursaries can be viewed on Select: (1) Branches (2) Food Security and Agrarian Reform (3) Sector Education Training and (4) Careers.
  • Find details of DHET international scholarship opportunities at
  • Some district municipalities set aside funds for impoverished, promising students to study further.
  • is “a crowdfunding platform”. Students load their profiles for businesses and individuals to view, to choose a student and donate to their outstanding fees.
  • Foundations offer scholarships. These are available to students across Africa even if the training happens in South Africa itself. These may be specifically related to the agro-food industry e.g. the Protein Research Foundation (visit or general e.g. the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
  • Read about scholarships and bursaries available from universities at Universities Education South Africa website, Institutions actually offering the training will also be able to tell you about available financial support, be these universities or others. The Citrus Academy, for example, manages a bursary fund that supports students at every level from secondary education upwards, and at a wide range of academic institutions.
  • Various industry associations offer bursaries themselves or could point you to bursary providers in their industry e.g. the South African Association for Food Science and Technology, the South African National Seeds Organisation (SANSOR), the Animal Feeds Manufacturing Association (AFMA), Subtrop, Potatoes SA, Stud Game Breeders/Wildlife Ranching SA, the Sugar Industry Trust Fund for Education (SITFE), Grain SA, the Winter Cereal Trust and the Wool Trust. Find their details on the relevant pages.
  • For information on National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) bursaries, visit
  • Provincial Departments of Agriculture offer bursaries. Find contact details/websites on the “Agriculture in the provinces” page.
  • Bursaries are offered for scarce skills like agricultural engineering. Find the “Bursaries” option at, website of the South African Institute for Agricultural Engineers.
  • SETAs like AgriSETA and FoodBev are also a source of funding for studies.
  • The South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) runs a bursary programme. Find bursary programme information at
  • Find news of bursaries at and
  • Bursaries for studies in agriculture are offered by the Studyetrust. Details can be found on
  • Become an agricultural science teacher! Bursaries at
  • Read about the Cochran Fellowship Program offering US-based agricultural training on the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) website – (find the “Programs” option).


Recruitment and placement agencies

Take a look at the “Find recruiters” option at

Agricultural companies like BKB have open days for school goers (and potential future employees). Others, like Kaap Agri, make use of learnerships to induct people into different careers. Read about learnerships on the “Agricultural education & training” page.

Staff countrywide at Eduprofile help with career guidance and career roadmaps. Visit

The Western Cape Department of Agriculture runs Internship and bursary/scholarship programmes as part of its External Development Initiatives (EDI). Find information at

The media company Food for Mzansi does roadshows regarding the different careers in agriculture. See

Websites and publications

Visit the websites of the role players listed earlier on this page.

  • Watch Grain SA‘s “Careers in Agriculture” on YouTube.
  • Watch the Nation in Conversation video (2023, May 19) “Aan die ander kant van die plaas: Loopbane in landbou (veranderende persepsies en invloed op loopbaankeuses) [On the other side of the farm: careers in agriculture (changing perceptions and the influence on career choices)]” at
  • Watch the TED talk “Why is agriculture the perpetual ugly duckling sector?” by Thabi Nkosi
  • Some universities and other learning institutions set out possible career options for each area of learning, something like the information under the “Careers in agriculture” heading earlier. Find these institutions on the “Agricultural education and training” page.
  • Find the Career guides on scarce skills in agriculture, forestry and fisheries under the “Branches”, “Food Security” and “Sector Education Training” options at
  • Download the Careers in Sugarcane Agriculture from the SA Sugarcane Research Institute at
  • Look for menu options like “Careers” on agricultural websites and publications e.g. Landbouweekblad, Farmer’s Weekly, the SA Fruit Journal.
  • Some company websites offering employment or set out possible careers within that company e.g.
  • Water@Work is a career guide focusing on potential careers in the water sector. It can be downloaded from, website of the Water Research Commission.


See what opportunities exist at:


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