Everyone needs to eat so a career in agriculture or food science is a good bet

Career Guide: Agriculture and Food Science, and Veterinary

Tue, Jun 17, 2014, 01:00

How do we feed the world’s growing population of billions in a safe and sustainable way? Agricultural science has been vital for the continued existence of human beings since the first wild plants and animals were domesticated in the “Fertile Crescent” countries that dot the Middle East around 12,000 years ago and people abandoned the nomadic lifestyle.

Agriculture, not science, medicine, humanities, law or commerce, has been the foundation of human civilisation ever since.

Agricultural science students study both natural sciences, including chemistry and biology, and social sciences such as economics, business and management. They may focus on animals or crops, or a mixture of both. Or they may explore a career in food science, with agri-food now one of the biggest areas of economic growth for Ireland.

Horticulture is an excellent choice for anyone interested in plants and gardening, providing training for careers in landscape design, garden centres and nurseries, fruit and vegetable growing, and parks and garden management. Students with an interest in the great outdoors and nature may also be interested in a forestry course, where they will learn about the science and management of commercial and natural forests.

Veterinary science students, meanwhile, work with animals in both farm and domestic settings. Forget any romantic notions of cute kittens – it’s a career not just for people who care about animals but those who have an interest in biology and health and are willing to get their hands dirty – or bitten.

Where to study

By a very clear mile, UCD is the undisputed leader for agriculture, food scienc

e and veterinary courses. The university has some great lecturers, with the best research profiles, delivering the widest range of courses. In first year, students can plump for a general entry agriculture course, before moving on to specialise in animal and crop production, animal science, engineering technology, or food and agribusiness management.

Alternatively, students who know the area they would like to specialise in can choose one of the four options on their CAO form.

UCD’s dairy business course provides students with everything they need to know to work in the dairy industry, while the animal science (equine) course equips graduates for a career in Ireland’s thriving horse industry.

UCD is not the only option for agricultural science, with WIT also proving particularly strong. Level 7 agriculture courses are available at WIT, Dundalk IT and Ballyhaise Agricultural College, and CIT and Clonakilty Agricultural College. UCD has Ireland’s only Level 8 Horticulture and Agri-Environmental Sciences course, while IT Blanchardstown and WIT have Level 7 horticulture courses.

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