Almost all of New Zealand’s export income comes from our primary industries – sectors that involve harvesting or extracting natural resources such as farming, horticulture, forestry, fisheries and mining.

People with technology, engineering and science skills can help create innovative ways to use these resources more efficiently and more sustainably. 

Key areas in primary industries:

  • Creating new products 
  • Designing better production processes 
  • Developing ‘green’ systems 
  • Protecting livestock, crops and forests from harmful pests 
  • Discovering new resources

What kinds of jobs do people in primary industries have?

Chemical and process engineers

Design, develop and maintain efficient processes for transforming raw materials.

Environmental and natural resources engineers and scientists

Work to study, assess and minimise the harmful effects of human activities on the environment, and design systems to treat and remove farm wastes. 

Biosecurity officers

Biosecurity officers manage the control of pest plants and animals, and try to prevent new problem species from arriving. 

Food technologists and scientists

Food technologists and scientists develop innovative ways to turn the vegetables, fruit, fish and meat we grow into ready to eat food products for supermarkets here or overseas. 


Geologists study the structure and history of the Earth and Earth processes. They also advise on natural hazards and the development and use of the Earth's land and resources.

Fisheries scientists and marine biologists

Marine biologists study plants and animals that live in sea water, and their relationships with each other and their environment.

Forestry scientists

Forestry scientists research forest growth, wood processing, conservation and different types of trees and how these can be used.

For more information on pathways into careers in agriculture, visit

For more information on industry-based training, visit the Primary Industries ITO website.