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Job Photographs

  • A man and a woman are sitting at a kitchen table.  The man is writing on a piece of paper and the woman is watching.

    Helping the farmer to complete paperwork. These plans show what is happening in each field on the farm; they have to be signed and sent to the relevant government department.

  • A man and a woman are in a barn with straw on the floor.  The man is holding a brown and white calf and the woman is looking at the calf's ear tag.  She is holding some paperwork.

    Checking a calf's ear tag number against its animal passport.

  • A woman is sitting at a kitchen table, checking something on a paper form.  There are booklets and paperwork on the table.

    Filling in a government form for the Rural Payments Agency. Accuracy and attention to detail are important skills.

  • A woman is sitting at a desk near a window, using a computer.  She is reading some information displayed on the computer screen.

    Finding information on the British Cattle Movement Service website.

  • A woman is speaking on the phone.  She is sitting in front of a computer and is looking at a piece of paper.  The computer desktop has a picture of an orange tractor on it.

    Agricultural administrators provide support to farmers. This administrator is answering a query about an animal movements report.

  • A woman is sitting at a desk near a window, in front of a computer.  She is using the computer mouse.

    Using the computerised farm accounts system.

  • A woman is sitting at a desk near a window, using a computer.  There is a list of information on the computer screen.

    Preparing a report that shows details of all the livestock on the farm, with their age, movement history and tag number.

  • A man and a woman are sitting at a kitchen table.  The man is speaking on the phone and the woman is looking through some booklets.  One of the booklets has a picture of sheep on the front cover.

    Finding some information for the farmer while he speaks to a rural inspector on the phone.

  • Agricultural Administrator

  • Agricultural Administrator

Agricultural Administrator

Introduction

Agricultural administrators provide farmers with full and accurate information about the performance of their farm - both financial and physical. They are responsible for farm accounting, dealing with cash flows and budgets, cost analysis and record keeping.

Also known as

  • Rural Business Administrator
  • Farm Secretary
  • Secretary, Farm
  • Agricultural Business Administrator

Work Activities

As an Agricultural Administrator, you will provide administrative support for Farmers, keeping them informed about the financial and physical performance of the farm. You are sometimes known as Rural Business Administrators or Farm Secretaries.

You keep accounts, checking on the money made and spent by the farm. You monitor, and sometimes control, budgets and cash flows, and work with accountants to prepare year-end accounts. Agricultural Administrators complete forms for government departments and agencies, including the Rural Payments Agency; you might also complete VAT returns.

You also look at the physical side of farm management, assessing which crops and equipment are cost-effective. You are involved in livestock recording and cropping records, helping the Farmer to make well-informed decisions about which crops, equipment or livestock to introduce in the future.

You might also talk to Bank Managers and Farming Consultants about whether the Farmer should go ahead with a new venture, such as branching out into new forms of rural business (diversifying). Examples include offering bed and breakfast or setting up a campsite on farm land. You might also help to apply for government grants.

You also have to follow the laws that affect agriculture, for example, those concerning issues such as health and safety. You also apply for, and maintain, animal passports and complete veterinary medicine records where required.

You have to keep accurate and up-to-date staff records for the payment of wages, and you fill in forms to be sent to HM Revenue & Customs for payment of tax and National Insurance.

Agricultural Administrators usually use computer systems (including online systems) to help with their work. This might be to keep records of stock levels and information about produce and livestock, as well as to produce accurate accounts, budgets and cash flow charts. You also type, send and file letters.

Some Agricultural Administrators live and work on a Farm or an Estate. Others are self-employed and mobile, visiting several Farmers at regular intervals, such as weekly, monthly or quarterly, to look after their financial and business needs. Some Agricultural Administrators work in rural businesses rather than on farms.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become an Agricultural Administrator, you'll need:

  • number skills and an interest in accounts
  • strong administrative skills with an attention to detail
  • IT skills such as the use of computer word-processing, spreadsheet and database packages, together with specialist agricultural software
  • an interest in the countryside and rural life
  • strong communication skills and the ability to work with people from many different backgrounds
  • to be able to work on your own for much of the time
  • the ability to plan your own working day and use your initiative; at busy times of the year, you will be working under pressure
  • to continually update your knowledge on farming and industry legislation
  • to be reliable and to understand the need for confidentiality

If you are travelling round to different farms, you will need to be able to drive.

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

The pay rates given below are approximate.

  • Starting: £17,000 - £18,000
  • With experience: £19,500 - £23,000
  • Senior Agricultural Administrators earn £25,000 - £29,000

Hours of work

Full-time Agricultural Administrators usually work 35-39 hours per week; however, longer hours might be required during busy times of the year. Part-time, temporary and flexible working arrangements are often available.

Where could I work?

Employers are agricultural businesses including farms and estates, where Agricultural Administrators might sometimes live on the premises. Other employers are accountancy practices and agencies providing secretarial/administrative services to a number of farms.

Opportunities for temporary, casual and short-term contract work occur with farm secretarial bureaux and office employment agencies.

Opportunities for Agricultural Administrators occur mainly in rural areas throughout the UK. There are some opportunities in towns and cities.

This career could include working for an agency. For more information take a look at our information article 'working for an agency'.

Self-employment

Some Agricultural Administrators work independently as freelancers in self-employed practice. Mobile Agricultural Administrators need a full driving licence.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are mainly advertised on the Institute of Agricultural Secretaries and Administrators' website (iagsa.co.uk/careers), in local newspapers and farming magazines, but might sometimes be found on specialist job boards, on Find a Job and at Jobcentre Plus.

GreenJobs is a job board aimed at people interested in green careers

www.greenjobs.co.uk/browse-jobs/agriculture-jobs/

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

You will need a recognised book-keeping qualification and relevant work experience to become a member of the Institute of Agricultural Secretaries and Administrators (IAgSA).

Recognised qualifications are shown on the IAgSA website, and include those from the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), the International Association of Book-keepers (IAB) and the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB), or a HND in business/accounting.

Training

IAgSA provides the farm accounting and rural business administration training programme, which is a series of training courses in farm issues, farming knowledge, farm record-keeping and financial recording, and farm office organisation, for people with book-keeping qualifications but without the required farming experience.

IAgSA members need to complete continuing professional development each year.

Work Experience

Some entrants have a relevant background in, for example, office, accounts and administrative work. It is important for entrants to have a formal book-keeping qualification or at least basic book-keeping knowledge.

Progression

Some Agricultural Administrators progress to become self-employed as a freelance Farm Administrator, working independently for many farming or rural businesses.

All self-employed Agricultural Administrators carrying out financial or book-keeping services in private practice need to be registered under the Money Laundering Regulations. IAgSA members are eligible for money laundering registration through HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) or via a recognised accounting body like that of the ICB, AAT or IAB.

Qualifications

The usual entry requirements are:

  • 4 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, including English and maths

Equivalent work-related qualifications in business subjects, for example, a BTEC level 2 qualification or approved NVQs at level 2, could also be accepted.

Some entrants have level 3 qualifications, such as one or more A levels or a BTEC qualification.

Some entrants might have a HND in accounting or business. Entry requirements for a HND could include 1/2 A levels, a BTEC level 3 qualification or an International Baccalaureate Diploma, for example.

In addition to academic qualifications, it is important for entrants to have a formal book-keeping qualification or at least basic book-keeping knowledge.

Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

Entry

Some entrants have a relevant background in, for example, office, accounts and administrative work. It is important for entrants to have a formal book-keeping qualification or at least basic book-keeping knowledge.

Further experience or guidance on how to start a career in farm administration can be obtained from the Institute of Agricultural Secretaries and Administrators (IAgSA). They can help you with the farming knowledge and the difference you will find between farm book-keeping and commercial book-keeping methods, as well as the farm records for crops and livestock that you will come across.

Courses

It is possible to enter courses without the usual academic requirements, if you can demonstrate that you have relevant knowledge and skills in, for example, administration or accounting duties and farming knowledge. See the IAgSA Training Programme.

Some college courses are aimed specifically at people wanting to gain or update their general keyboard, secretarial and book-keeping skills. These can be organised on a one- or two-term full-time intensive basis, or part-time.

Distance learning

Relevant courses in, for example, word processing, ICT, accounts and administration, are offered by a large number of centres, by distance learning.

Recognised qualifications in subjects such as book-keeping and payroll are shown on the IAgSA website; these include distance learning courses from the Association of Accounting Technicians, the International Association of Book-keepers and the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers.

Statistics

  • 33% of people in occupations such as agricultural administrator work part-time.
  • 22% have flexible hours.
  • 3% of employees work on a temporary basis.

Further Information

Professional institutesProfessional institutes have the following roles:

  • To offer support and guidance to their members.
  • To protect the public by keeping standards high in their professions.

The Institute of Agricultural Secretaries and Administrators is the main professional institute for this career.

Institute of Administrative Management (IAM)

Tel: 020 7091 2600

Email: info@instam.org

Website: www.instam.org

Lantra

Skills for land-based and environmental industries

Address: Lantra House, Stoneleigh Park, Coventry, Warwickshire CV8 2LG

Tel: 02476 696996

Email: reception@lantra.co.uk

Website: www.lantra.co.uk

Farmers Weekly Interactive

Publisher: Reed Business Information Ltd

Email: fwiinfo@rbi.co.uk

Website: www.fwi.co.uk

GreenJobs

Email: info@greenjobs.co.uk

Website: www.greenjobs.co.uk

Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD)

Irish enquiries

Address: Dundonald House, Upper Newtownards Road, Ballymiscaw, Belfast BT4 3SB

Tel: 0300 2007852

Email: dardhelpline@dardni.gov.uk

Website: www.dardni.gov.uk

Natural England

Address: Foundry House, 3 Millsands, Riverside Exchange, Sheffield S3 8NH

Tel: 0845 6003078

Email: enquiries@naturalengland.org.uk

Website: www.naturalengland.org.uk

Countryside Jobs Service (CJS)

Address: The Moorlands, Goathland, Whitby, North Yorkshire YO22 5LZ

Tel: 01947 896007

Email: ranger@countryside-jobs.com

Website: www.countryside-jobs.com

Countryside Management Association (CMA)

Address: Writtle College, Lordship Road, Writtle, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 3RR

Tel: 01245 424116

Email: cma@writtle.ac.uk

Website: www.countrysidemanagement.org.uk

Natural Resources Wales

Welsh enquiries

Address: Ty Cambria, 29 Newport Road, Cardiff CF24 0TP

Tel: 0300 0653000

Email: enquiries@naturalresourceswales.gov.uk

Website: naturalresourceswales.gov.uk

Institute of Agricultural Secretaries and Administrators (IAgSA)

Address: The Studio @ The Mill, Mill Lane, Little Shrewley, Warwickshire CV35 7HN

Tel: 01926 485543

Email: iagsa@iagsa.co.uk

Website: www.iagsa.co.uk

Farm Office Handbook

Publisher: Institute of Agricultural Secretaries and Administrators (IAgSA)

Website: www.iagsa.co.uk/general.php?t=news&r=PC1LJ2383941

People Exchange Cymru (PEC)

Public sector recruitment portal for Wales

Email: peopleexchangecymru@gov.wales

Website: www.peopleexchangecymru.org.uk/home

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