Use your subject

Animal and Plant Sciences

Think about what 'using your subject' means to you and what you're really looking for. Do you want to apply your subject-specific knowledge or skills to the real world? Or maybe you want to continue to practice and develop these skills? Maybe it's a broader interest in your subject that you want to keep alive by working in a relevant type of organisation?

As a start, use the resources below to create your own list of career ideas to research.

Remember that the vast majority of graduate jobs are open to graduates of any subject.

  • Look at what alumni from your department have done using the DLHE data we collect and through the University of Sheffield alumni page on LinkedIn.
  • Search for and contact alumni in your subject through our Graduate case studies database.
  • Browse the career ideas for Animal and Plant Sciences graduates on Prospects and Targetjobs but keep in mind that these are not a comprehensive list of all the careers related to your subject.
  • Search the Royal Society of Biology for more information and careers resources related to your subject.
  • Brainstorm ideas and do some initial investigation to find out about research, organisations, start-ups, government bodies and freelancers connected to your subject.

Some career options

Our information resources - Occupations section is a good place to start to explore the following occupational areas. However you are not restricted to these and you should also consider any other additional factors which are important to you for your future career using our Understand yourself and your options section.

Academic lecturing / teaching

Higher Education lecturers/teachers teach their subject to undergraduate and postgraduate students via lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical demonstrations, field work and e-learning. Lecturers also pursue their own research with the aim of having this published in scholarly publications to help raise their institution's profile.

Administrative tasks are significant and many lecturers / teachers also take on a pastoral role with their students. Having a PhD is a prerequisite alongside experience such as research assistant or teaching assistant / demonstrator in HE.

Use our Occupations section Higher education for more information and links to useful websites.

Agricultural consultant / adviser

Combining an interest in rural issues with skills in advising and supporting clients, agricultural consultants and advisers solve problems for their clients, to ensure their business or enterprise is running as efficiently as possible. They must be aware of the business and legislative implications of their advice.

Clients may include farmers, growers, landowners, conservation organisations, public bodies and other agricultural businesses in manufacturing and services.

Use our Occupations section Agriculture, horticulture and forestry for more information and links to useful websites.

Charity management and administration

Non-profit organisations, including wildlife trusts and conservation charities, offer a wide range of roles including management of wildlife, public relations, visitor education, volunteer management, marketing, finance and fundraising, policy and campaigning.

Those working for a large organisation may focus on a specific area whereas, in smaller charities, they often undertake multiple tasks. It’s a competitive career choice where voluntary experience helps to demonstrate commitment as well as build a network of useful contacts.

Use our Occupations section Charities and voluntary work for more information and links to useful websites.

Commercial horticulturist / manager

Works in the production and supply of crops, plants and flowers to retailers and plant nurseries. This job involves the management of horticultural businesses and requires business skills as well as knowledge of horticulture and cultivation.

New entrants are likely to have qualifications in horticulture, although this does not have to be at degree level.

Use our Occupations section Agriculture, horticulture and forestry for more information and links to useful websites.

Conservation officer

Conservation officer covers a wide range of roles (conservation assistants and technicians, project officers or biodiversity officers or sustainable development officers) all of which seek to protect, manage and enhance the local environment either in the UK or in other countries through education and policy. Environments include land, rivers and marine habitats.

Employers include local authorities, government departments, utilities companies, consultancies, nature reserves, national or country parks, private estates, engineering companies (particularly those concerned with road building) and housing developers.

Use our Occupations section Environment and conservation for more information and links to useful websites.


When starting out, ecologists often conduct surveys to identify, record, and monitor species and their habitats. More senior ecologists get involved in policy and management work, specialising in a particular area, such as freshwater, marine, terrestrial, fauna or flora. Ecologists most commonly work for consultancies, engineering companies, research bodies or government agencies.

A postgraduate qualification may be useful as is specialist skills, eg surveying, and volunteering with a wildlife trust or similar.

Use our Occupations section Environment and conservation for more information and links to useful websites.

Environmental / sustainability manager

Examine the environmental performance of their employer’s corporate activities to establish where improvements can be made as well as ensure compliance with environmental legislation. Involves creating, implementing and monitoring environmental strategies to promote sustainable development. Work may include carrying out environmental audits and assessments, identifying and resolving environmental problems and ensuring necessary changes are implemented.

Employers include manufacturing, engineering and construction/civil engineering firms, environmental consultancies, central government (eg DEFRA and Environment Agency) and local government.

Use our Occupations section Environment and conservation for more information and links to useful websites.

Field trials officer

Field trials officers develop and manage research trials, monitoring the effects of experiments on plants or animals in the field or laboratory. Some may be involved with the entire process while others may oversee management of just one particular stage of research.

Employers include public research institutes as well as environmental research consultancies, new crop developers, specialist companies that provide trial development and analysis services for the farming sector, agricultural chemical producers, pharmaceutical producers and food production / processing companies.

Use our Occupations section Environment and conservation for more information and links to useful websites.

Researcher / research assistant / field assistant

Involved in planning and conducting experiments and analysing results, either with a definite end use (eg to develop new products, processes or commercial applications) or to broaden scientific understanding in general.

Research institutes, trusts and government bodies offer research lab or field trials roles - including those associated with conservation/environment, animal welfare, human health and plant production. Commercial research roles can be found in agriculture, food & drink, animal health & nutrition, environmental testing, medical diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, personal care and more.

Use our Occupations section Scientific research for more information and links to useful websites.

Science communicator / writer

Science writers prepare and deliver professional presentations on science-related topics to non-experts, including the general public as well as professionals in other disciplines. Opportunities range from schools outreach in HE to scientific events management with science communication agencies, public relations roles with learned societies, or education officer roles in science museums.

Some of the larger charities, eg Cancer Research UK or Wellcome Trust, may offer graduate schemes in areas like policy, public engagement and communications.

Science communicators also work in specialist publishing, journalism and broadcasting.

Use our Occupations section Scientific information and outreach for more information and links to useful websites.

Secondary school teacher (Maths / Science)

Maths teachers usually work with pupils aged 11-18 years old.

You will design and deliver engaging 'GCSE' and 'A' level lessons, monitor your pupils' progress, and prepare classes for external exams in line with national curricula. You will show patience, an interest in young people and an ability to establish a positive learning environment, up-to-date subject knowledge and excellent teamwork, organisational and communication skills.

Teaching in further education colleges is also an option but fewer opportunities exist.

Use our Occupations section Primary, secondary and special needs for more information and links to useful websites.