Paper qualifications are not essential for all sectors of the food industry. However for people without any qualifications at all, work tends to be poorly paid and seasonal. Some areas of the industry are difficult to get into without paper qualifications. Most areas of the food processing/manufacturing/sales industry will require staff to complete the Foundation Certification in Food Hygiene as a basic qualification. There is a great range of qualifications on offer from basic introductory courses up to degree level, with many being run at your local college.
Always check that qualifications are recognised by a professional body so that you know it meets the standards required by the industry you are going into (especially if you are paying a private college or training organisation).
If you are thinking of setting up your own business – from making cheese to sales and marketing – you can find short courses at your local college and through your local trade organisations. These can include first aid, bookkeeping, customer service, food hygiene, etc. Basic skills courses to improve your English or maths are usually free.
Agriculture related qualifications available at your local college include:
NVQ levels 1 to 3 in subjects like bakery, catering, food and drink manufacture, etc. These teach work-based skills and you can study them whilst working.
First and National Diplomas/Certificates in meat technology, retail training, etc. These are usually studied full-time and provide work experience.
GNVQs and AVCEs in business, etc. These work-related courses can be studied full-time or part-time at college
Modern Apprenticeships and National Traineeships allow you to work for an employer and study at college for an NVQ.
Higher National Certificate and Diplomas (HNCs and HNDs) in a range of related subjects. The HNC can be studied part-time whilst the HND is part-time.
Degrees in a science subject, meat science, business, home economics, etc are suitable for those considering going into management or research
Many organisations also provide training:
Many trade associations run short courses
For more information on agriculture careers, use our Careers Information web pages at
Job information sheets from BT – include information on setting up a company, raising finance, marketing, etc www.btconnect.com/auth/intelligence/cobra/bops/category.htm