What’s it all about then?
As a Unit Manager you’ll likely be employed on a large scale farm, and overseeing one part of the business e.g. milking, feeds, breeding etc.
You’ll have a lot of responsibility for ensuring that everything under your control runs efficiently in order to maximise business profitability.
What might I be doing?
This depends on the type and size of unit but will include at least some of the following:
- Working towards production targets
- Effective management of the unit on a day to day basis
- Managing and developing staff within the unit
- Feeding the livestock
- Operating and repairing machinery
- Ensuring everyone works safely and efficiently
- Making sure quality assurance and other guidelines are followed
- Working to ensure high standards of animal welfare
- Making sure all waste is managed correctly
- Achieving all budget targets
What will be expected of me?
You’ll be someone with a love for working with animals and enjoying the farm life in general.
You’ll need to have good communication skills, written and verbal, in order to interact effectively with other people and also to write and understand reports, statistics and spreadsheets.
Your management and organisational skills will also need to be good, so that you can manage people and processes to the very best of your ability.
The job also needs someone who can make quick and accurate decisions and act on their own initiative.
What can I expect?
This isn’t a 9 to 5 job and yours hours will reflect this, with weekend cover being a part of the normal week and overtime cover required as well during particularly busy periods.
The working conditions will depend on the type of farm on which you’re employed – you could be indoors, outdoors or a combination of growth.
What about the pay?
Your salary will vary with responsibility and also your skills and experience.
However starting salaries are in the region of £20000 per annum and these can rise to more than £30000 per annum with experience.
As well as this you may be provided with free or subsidised accommodation and pensions, depending on the employer.
These figures are provided for guideline purposes only and you should always check for up to date information.
What qualifications do I need to get in?
There aren’t any set requirements for the role of Unit Manager but it’s very likely that you’ll have attained some qualifications in an agricultural type subject, as well as some years of previous experience as a General Farm Worker.
It’s entirely possible that you may have originally commenced employment in a farm business as a farm worker with an Apprenticeship level qualification in a subject such as Agriculture.
Where would I get these qualifications?
There are loads of courses available at specialist Agricultural Colleges and you’ll find that, if you live in a rural area, your local Further Education College will also have subjects that suit your career choice.
What about further training?
If you want to keep taking qualifications then your next step is a foundation degree or degree in an area such as Agriculture, Animal Science and so on.
There are loads of options available to suit you and you’ll very likely find your subject choice can be delivered via part time study and distance learning.
Check the online prospectuses for up to date details – these will give you some great ideas for what to study and how to develop your career.
There are also lots of short courses available which are aimed at improving your technical knowledge.
You could also look at Continuing Professional Development courses which provide you with a great way of keeping bang up to date with developments in your sector.
For instance those working with pigs could join the Pig Industry Professional Register (PIPR).
Anything else I might need to know?
Yes, the fact that you’re interested in the Unit Manager job means that you want to make a career from farming; so you should go about getting as much experience and as many qualifications as possible.
This is particularly important in a competitive sector and you might have to think about moving around from farm to farm in order to keep progressing up through the ranks.
And don’t forget, with your experience and qualifications you could also think about working abroad for a while!