Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Paul Dowling from Teagasc to give some advice for people considering this job:

 

Paul Dowling

Horticulturist

Teagasc

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  Paul Dowling
Ideally, try and get a job in the industry for a summer, or get a bit of experience before you go into it. You have to be happy with working outside, and doing physical work. If you are not prepared to work hard or are looking for a soft job, don't go into Landscaping. Design is very sexy at the moment, everyone wants to be a designer, a Landscape Designer. It's different on the ground, you have to be out there on sites in all weather and you have to make sure projects are managed well and you're able to muck in with everyone else. Biology is most important for anyone going into Horticulture or Landscaping as it covers propagation and helps with the identification of plant names, species and families through the universal use of Latin. Chemistry is also helpful as the use of various chemicals is a constant in horticulture. The chemical content and dangers of fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides in use in Amenity Horticulture needs to be understood anyone going into this business. Geography would be a relevant subject as well. Also, the simple things like having a full, clean driving licence, which can make you a lot more employable if you are trying for a job with a Landscape Conractor. This indicates that you are more mobile and can also drive a company van if needed. Be sure you're happy with the outdoor life. Having taken a Horticulture course will give you an advantage. However, it's possible to take a job first and study later, e.g. in IT Blanchardstown it is possible to study at night. I think you cannot beat doing the Diploma Course in the National Botanic Gardens because it is a good practical course which also covers all the theory and is invaluable for gaining plant knowledge.
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Career Profile: Farm Manager

Patrick Dunne is a Farm Manager from Navan, Co. Meath working in Golden, Co.Tipperary. His interests are GAA, Football and anything related to farming. 

Farm details

Area: 94 ha
Labour: 1.5 labour units
Herd: 155 spring calving cows, 50 in calf heifers and 61 calves

Career path
  • Level 5 and 6 Certificate at Teagasc Ballyhaise Agricultural College (2 years)
  • Teagasc Professional Diploma in Dairy Farm Management (2 years)
  • Farm manager (6 months)
Background

Patrick is not from a farming background but became interested in dairying through summer jobs. He chose a career in dairy farming because of the opportunities it offered being the most profitable farming enterprise. Although he admits it can be a tough lifestyle at times, being his own boss on a daily basis and having the freedom to make management decisions on the farm more than compensates. 

Overview of current role

Patrick manages all aspects of the physical farm performance, milking, grassland management, breeding and calf rearing with some guidance from the farm owner. He would like to get more involved in the financial management of the farm in the future.
Currently, he is helping to supervise the development work happening on farm in preparation for milking 200+ cows in the future.

Up-skilling

Patrick is involved in two discussion groups. He is constantly on the lookout for any short courses or workshops that can help him improve his financial planning and business skills. Patrick firmly believes that on-farm experience is the best way to learn and develop the necessary skills which is why he chose the practical Professional Diploma in Dairy Farm Management course. Patrick has built up a number of contacts who are only a phone call away when he needs advice.

Future career goals

Patrick’s career goal is to enter a sharemilking arrangement. He plans to build up his own herd of cows and enter an arrangement with a farm owner. He has a positive attitude and takes pride in his work which he hopes will help him to find a progressive farm owner to work with in the future.

Article by: Teagasc