Learning and working in the primary industries

Find out about standards, opportunities and careers

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What's the work like?

What kind of careers are found along this pathway?

There’s entry-level work in every area of the food and fibre sector, and opportunities for development and to gain qualifications as you go.

You could work outdoors or around the ocean, on a farm, forest or orchard. You usually work outside of urban centres and may work alone, or as part of a team. You need to be physically fit and healthy for some jobs while others are suited to a broader range of abilities. Technology is playing an increasing role in the sector.

As well as jobs in the growing and production of food and fibre, there are jobs involving the care of animals, maintenance of land, soil and water, and roles in the administration, research and business management side of the industries.

This Pathway includes careers within these industries:

Apiculture (beekeeping)


Growing kiwi fruit, berry fruit, apples and pears, stone fruit, citrus, olives and other fruit, growing tree nuts, and fruit and vegetable retailing.

Sheep, beef, deer and wool farming

This includes shearing services and wool wholesaling.


Growing rice and other grains, growing sugar cane, cotton, and other crops, cereal grain wholesaling and cotton ginning.

Dairy farming

Cattle, goats, and sheep.

Equine, greyhounds, and racing

Horse farming, thoroughbred and harness/standardbred horse racing, greyhound racing.


Forestry, logging and forestry support services.

Grapes and wine

Grape growing, wine and other alcoholic beverage manufacturing.

Nursery, turf and gardening

Nursery production, floriculture (flowers), turf growing and gardening services.

Poultry, pigs and other livestock farming


Aquaculture, fishing, seafood processing, fish and seafood wholesaling.

Support services

Other agriculture and fishing support services, landscape and construction services, and other agricultural product wholesaling.


Vegetable growing, mushroom growing, fruit and vegetable retailing.

Veterinary services and animal care


Where might you end up?

There are many opportunities in the food and fibre sector to learn on the job or take on study off job and you can progress through a wide range of roles.

There are also many opportunities to learn new skills and move into different areas of each industry. There’s always something new as innovation means technology and equipment change constantly and because different markets have different requirements.

What's great about this industry?

And why is it important to New Zealand?

Aotearoa New Zealand’s food and fibre industries are an important source of wealth for the country, generating billions of dollars each year from exports. People working in these industries help feed, shelter, and nourish the world.

It’s a big sector for Māori with a large proportion of Aotearoa New Zealand’s forests, fisheries, and dairy farms Māori-owned and operated.

No matter what part of the sector you choose to work in, you’re contributing to a sector that is important at home and around the world.

This is me. How do I follow this pathway?

Plan a course and track standards for careers in this sector.

You can go into many roles in this sector straight from school.

You’ll need NCEA Level 2 for a good foundation for success in entry level jobs or apprenticeships. Other jobs require a degree first. Use the Profile Builder to see how well your subject selection helps prepare you with skills and knowledge valued by industries and employers in this sector.

To make the most of your opportunities, you will then need to complete qualifications by undertaking further study and training. Whether you can do this while working (for example, as an apprentice) or need to study on-campus will vary depending on exactly what career you choose to focus on.