AGRI-SCIENCE

FIND SOLUTIONS TO COMPLEX SECTOR CHALLENGES AND NEEDS

Genetics, sustainability, animal welfare and care; the environment and farming systems. Agri-scientists are creative problem solvers who ask why and provide solutions.

Science career tip

Love science but not exactly sure what you want to do? Study a science degree with an agricultural focus such as a Bachelor of:

  • Agriculture
  • Agricultural Science (Agri-Science)
  • Animal Science
  • Science
  • Biological Science

You can make some of the big decisions later…

BE A WORLD LEADER

New Zealand research scientists are world leaders in gene discovery, plant and animal physiology, and molecular genetics and farm systems.

get a mentor

A mentor is someone already working or familiar with the career you choose; someone you respect and can ask questions and talk to about your ideas for the future.

PEOPLE JUST LIKE YOU

Animal Nutritionist

Animal Nutritionists study and understand the nutritional needs of animals.

They might formulate diets or make recommendations based on an animal’s condition and type of physical activity (such as performance, reproduction, lactation, or overcoming nutritional deficiencies), and/or be involved in research or teaching activities.

Animal nutritionists understand biology, chemistry, animal husbandry, animal nutrition, anatomy and physiology, mathematics, animal science, animal behaviour, forage and food production, and ration formulation.

They might work at a university, animal feed manufacturing company, scientific research organisation, or sector organisation (such as DairyNZ).

Generally, Animal Nutritionists have a Bachelor’s degree in Science:
  • • Animal Science
  • • Biological Science
  • • Biochemistry

Animal Nutritionists who undertake research have a postgraduate degree (Master’s or PhD) in science:
  • • Animal Nutrition
  • • Veterinarian Science

Veterinarian

Veterinarians treat sick and injured animals, provide general animal care, and advise about health care and disease prevention for pets and farm (production) animals.

A Large Animal Veterinarian works at a clinic but visits farms (dairy, beef, horses, swine, goats, and sheep).

Veterinarians require a five-year Bachelor of Veterinary Science.



Veterinarian Nurse / Assistant

Veterinary nurses help in the examination, treatment and rehabilitation of sick and injured animals. They also interact with clients and perform receptionist duties.

You need a New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing. If you complete the one-year New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology (Level 5) with Veterinary Nursing Assistant strand, you will qualify as a Veterinary Nurse Assistant.

Watch this video about a career as a vet nurse.



Veterinarian Technologist / Rural Animal Technician

Some veterinary nurses choose to train as a Veterinarian Technologist / Rural Animal Technician.

Generally, there are two veterinary qualifications:
  • • Certificate in Rural Animal Technology
  • • Bachelor of Veterinary Technology

Find out about Veterinary careers at CareersNZ.

Consulting Officer

A Consulting Officer is DairyNZ’s version of an Farm Advisor / Consultant.

Consulting Officers work with farmers and help farmers make decision making around finances, cows and grass, and people management. They facilitate the flow of information coming from the research and development teams at DairyNZ to the farmers, and the flow of information from farmers to the research team.

Generally, Consulting Officers have a Bachelor’s degree in:
  • • Agricultural Science (Agri-Science)
  • • Science (Agriculture)
  • • Commerce (Agriculture)
  • • Agribusiness
  • • Economics-Agriculture

Watch this video about a DairyNZ Consultant Officer's daily work.

Crop Scientist / Agronomist

Agronomists / Crop Scientists specialise in producing and improving food crops through experiments and developing production methods.

Plant Scientists generally focus on increasing the quality and amount of food produced for humans and other animals. They must know how to sample soil, diagnose the nutrients crops need, and determine the effectiveness of a nutrient.

Agronomists / Crop Scientists can be teachers, agricultural business consultants or researchers. They often work in the field, on farms, or in agricultural labs.

Generally, Agronomists have a Bachelor of Science in:
  • • Agri-science
  • • Biological Science
  • • Plant Science
  • • Agronomy

Research Technician

Research Technicians tend to be practical, tactical, and detail-oriented people. They support scientists by carrying out more of the outdoors, hands-on or laboratory-based measurements required for experiments to be undertaken by scientists (who must have a Master’s or PhD).

They might manage and execute the plan for all the field and laboratory methodologies, undertake data entry and validation, deliver high quality science results to scientists, and draft reports with the opportunity to co-author publications.

In the dairy sector, you might be an Artificial Breeding Technician, Herd Tester or Research Technician working in the area of forage crops, pasture, soils, weeds, pests, nutrition, reproduction, animal behaviour, and plant breeding.

Being a technician is a good option if you think you want a career in science but are undecided. You can study a Master’s or PhD to become a scientist.

Generally, Research Technicians have a Bachelor’s degree in:
  • • Agri-science
  • • Animal Science
  • • Biological Science

Find out more about being a Research Technician at CareersNZ.

Environmental Analyst / Scientist

Environmental Analysts / Scientists are often scientists who study the environment and how plants, animals and other organisms are affected by the environment. They also analyse human activities and determine our impact on the environment including climate change.

Environmental Analysts / Scientists advise how to avoid or reduce harmful effects on the environment. They might work for a government organisation or as a consultant in a private business.

Generally, Environmental Analysts / Scientists have a postgraduate qualification in science like a Bachelor's Degree in:
  • • Science (with environmental papers)
  • • Environmental Science
  • • Environmental Management and Planning
  • • Agricultural Science
  • • Biological Science
  • • Soil Science
  • • Earth Science
  • • Fresh Water Ecology
  • • Engineering

Reproduction / Cow Fertility Scientist

Reproductive / Cow Fertility Scientists are focused on improving reproductive performance of dairy cows within a farm system; they are involved in research or treatment related to the reproductive systems of animals, enhancing reproductive success and contribute to competitive and resilient farm businesses.

In the dairy sector, these scientists help increase reproductive performance in dairy cows, and can work on aspects of reproductive physiology, management and selection of more fertile cows, and are all reproductive biology professionals.

They might work for a sector organisation, research institute, universities, or private business.

Reproduction / Fertility Scientists have a doctorate degree in animal sciences. They are educated in (not all of these) reproductive physiology, endocrinology, animal behaviour, breeding, molecular biology, nutrition, statistics, physiology and have knowledge of the farm system.

Generally, Technician careers require a Bachelor or Masters of:
  • • Science
  • • Biological Science
  • • Agri-science
  • • Dairy Science (Animal Science)

Generally, Scientists require a Doctor of Philosophy (Doctorate) in:
  • • Animal Science
  • • Reproductive Physiology
  • • Reproduction
  • • Veterinary Specialists
  • • Science

Statistician / Biometrician

Statisticians or Biometricians, are the mathematicians of the agricultural/environment, biological, economic, and health sectors. They work with big data using statistics and applied mathematics to solve problems and give advice to ensure research is statistically sound.

Statisticians might design surveys, questionnaires, investigations, and opinion polls to collect the data they need; and undertake research.

Agricultural Statisticians might provide data and recommendations to farmers around fertiliser management, or determine risk factors for animal diseases.

Generally, Statisticians have a Bachelor’s degree in:
  • • Statistics
  • • Maths
  • • Biochemistry
  • • Science

Many employers prefer you have a postgraduate qualification (Master’s or PhD) in Applied Statistics.

Find out more about being a Statistician at CareersNZ.

Agricultural Microbiologist

A Microbiologist studies microscopic life forms and processes such as bacteria, viruses, algae or fungi, and the effects they have on plants, animals, and humans. They also develop products and procedures to benefit humans or the environment.

Agricultural Microbiologists study plant-associated microbes, plant and animal diseases, and soil microbes, for example.

Generally, Agricultural Microbiologists have a Bachelor of Science degree in:
  • • Microbiology
  • • Biotechnology
  • • Biochemistry
  • • Molecular Biology

For research-based positions, a postgraduate qualification (Master’s or PhD) is required.

Find out more about being a Microbiologist at CareersNZ.

DAIRY FARMING

Dairy farming offers a career outdoors, working in a team, with farm animals, machinery, technology, pasture and crops. An average farmer uses about ten different agri-business and agri-science advisors to help run their farm business and agri-scientist are essential to a sustainable and productive dairy sector.

Check out GoDairy's Dairy Farming page to discover dairy farming career opportunities from Farm Assistant to Sharemilker and Farm Owner.

Because dairy farming is many jobs...

Molecular Biologist

Molecular Biologists study the structures and functions of cells at a molecular level. They are interested in the biochemical processes within the living cells of animals, people, plants, and other living organisms.

Molecular biologists must be proficient in genetics, biology, physiology, and chemistry, and often work in labs with advanced equipment.

In the agricultural sector, Molecular Biologists might engineer new crops or study the impact of drugs on safe gene growth. They might study the endocrine system (a hormone system) and vaccines, for example.

Generally, Molecular Biologists start with a Bachelor of Science in:
  • • Microbiology
  • • Biotechnology
  • • Biochemistry
  • • Molecular Biology

A postgraduate degree (Master's) is required for research-based positions.

Find out about Biotechnologist careers at CareersNZ.

Watch this video about a day in the life of a biotechnologist.

Animal Behaviour Scientist

Animal Behaviour Scientists (Ethologists) analyse and attempt to understand the reasons behind animal behaviour.

They might work in the efficient and humane management of farm animals, in areas such as conservation, the control of pest species, evolutionary biology, and population ecology.

Animal Behaviour Scientists often work for governments and large companies.

Generally, Animal Behaviour Scientists have a Bachelor of Science with Animal Behaviour papers in:
  • • Animal Science
  • • Zoology
  • • Agricultural Science
  • • Biological Science

Animal Geneticist


Animal Geneticists analyse the genetic makeup of animals in order discover which genes optimise important traits such as milk production, immunity and longevity.

Animal Geneticists might research and give advice on breeding programs, to help farmers improve the profitability and sustainability of their herds.

Generally, Animal Geneticists have a Bachelor or Master’s of Science, with a specialty in genetics and statistics.

Plant Geneticist


Plant Geneticists research and implement ways to improve or create new varieties of plants or crops.

By looking at a plant’s characteristics (traits) and DNA, Plant Geneticists can examine ways to improve those traits. Plant Geneticists’ use biotechnology (the use of biological processes, organisms, or systems to develop improved species of plants) to understand plant breeding and hybridisation.

In the dairy sector, Plant Geneticists strive toward selecting the best pasture cultivars for dairy farming systems.

Generally, Plant Geneticists have a Bachelor of Science in:
  • • Genetics
  • • Plant Science
  • • Agronomy

Modeller / Farm Systems Scientist

Modellers use large amounts of data to examine changes over time and predict future trends.

In the dairy sector, Farm Systems Modellers use computer models to simulate the interactions between cows, grass, crops, and management in a farm system to answer questions that would be costly to undertake, take a long time, and be a lot of work in real life to determine.

In the environment field, Modellers study data related to pollution, resources, ecosystems, and the climate.

Modelling specialist will have a high level of IT skills in specialist software.

Generally, Modellers / Farm Systems Scientists have a Bachelor’s degree in:
  • • Agricultural Science (Agri-Science)
  • • Science (Agriculture)
  • • Maths

EDUCATION

FOR A CAREER IN SCIENCE

For a science career (Research Technician, Statistician, Farm Advisor or Farm Systems Modeller), but not working as a scientist, you need an undergraduate degree (Bachelor’s Degree) which generally takes three years’ university study.

To be a SCIENTIST

You must have a postgraduate qualification (Master’s or Doctorate) which takes four or more years’ university study. You could be an Animal Behaviour Scientist, Plant or Animal Geneticist, Agricultural Microbiologist or Reproduction Scientist.

Investigate study options

You may spend the next three to seven years at university. Find out about the course, the campus, city life, and lifestyle you can expect.

RECOMMENDED SCHOOL SUBJECTS

Science, mathematics, economics, chemistry, biology, physics, statistics, calculus, IT, English.

Take action

Training and study options.

DISCOVER YOUR FIT

What do you enjoy? Where can you make a difference? Match your skills and interests to a dairy sector career.

EXPLORE CAREERS

Dairy farming? Agri-business? Agri-science? There is a career for everyone in the dairy sector.

TAKE ACTION

How to make your career happen? Find out where to learn and study, and to contact to make it happen.

CONNECT

Get social, network and make those connections happen. Talk to people, visit workplaces, and search the internet.