Careers & Scholarships

The Australian cotton industry encourages new people to join our industry who have a passion to innovate, work collaboratively, and help clothe and feed our growing population in a more sustainable way.

Australian Cotton Conference - educator and student scholarships

Applications for Cotton Australia educator and student scholarships to attend the 2024 Australia Cotton Conference are open.

Connecting students and educators to our industry is paramount in ensuring Australia has a strong and vibrant cotton sector and attracts the best minds to help further our industry.

Cotton Australia is offering a range of scholarships to the biennial Australian Cotton Conference for educators and students who are passionate about cotton and natural fibres. The aim is to further their knowledge and understanding of cotton whilst learning about the variety of career opportunities within the cotton industry.

The event brings together new and experienced farmers, agronomists and researchers, brands and marketers, students and educators, supply chain partners, industry groups and cotton supporters. Together we explore a wide range of issues, ideas and opportunities from a variety of standpoints. You will walk away informed, challenged, inspired and motivated to do your bit for the future of the Australian cotton industry.

Cotton Australia offers scholarships for:

To apply see linked information for each category above.

Applications or questions can be directed to the Cotton Australia Education Manager: [email protected]

Applications close 5pm (EST) Friday 28 June 2024.

Event details

2024 Australian Cotton Conference

6 -8 August 2024

Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre, Broadbeach, Queensland, Australia.

Australian Cotton Conference Scholarship Program

Students from the Southport School at the Cotton Conference in 2022
Students from the Southport School at the Cotton Conference in 2022

Career opportunities

Australian grown cotton is globally known for its high-quality lint and sustainability credentials. The Australian cotton industry’s work force is critical to sustaining the industry’s competitive advantage. Innovative, resilient, and adaptive people, businesses and communities are crucial to the future success of the industry.

What jobs are there in cotton?

The Australian cotton industry’s work force includes on-farm labour, as well as the service industry and supply chain, which represents an extensive network of input and advisory providers that support cotton farmers (such as agronomists, researchers, consultants, agribusiness and state government agencies).

Cotton careers can be grouped into seven categories, as shown in the PERFECT Cotton Careers infographic, to show the key jobs that are involved in the cotton industry:

  1. Policy
  2. Education and Training
  3. Research
  4. Farming and Finance
  5. Extension and Advisory Services
  6. Communication
  7. Technologies and Trade

Each of these categories have different focus areas and pathways, and shows that the industry needs people with a huge range of skills and knowledge.

PERFECT cotton careers

Cooperation and collaboration are fundamental to the success of the cotton industry in Australia, and it is well known for its transparency and sharing of information right across the supply chain. To achieve success, growth, and sustainability long-term, the industry works together to proactively address tomorrow’s challenges. The Australian Cotton Industry Organisation Chart serves as a guide to demonstrate how everyone, from the growers to the government regulatory bodies interact to create world class cotton.

Australian Cotton Industry Organisation Chart

Workforce attraction on a cotton farm

The dynamics of the industry’s work force varies depending on factors such as season, location and business size.

Cotton growers generally attract employees using a range of tools, including word-of-mouth, employing local youth and school students as trainees, using recruitment specialised labour hire companies, and webpages such as Seek, Facebook and Gumtree. They use a range of strategies to retain staff, which may include attractive salary packages that often include on-farm accommodation and meals, training, flexible working arrangements, mentoring, opportunities to have a stake in the business and/or promotion.

For people that have not grown up on a farm or in a rural region, it can be difficult to imagine what a career or casual position on a cotton farm looks like. A great place to start researching is the People in Agriculture website, looking under the Guide for Employees tab.

To learn more about a job in agriculture, Career Harvest has case studies, videos and job descriptions to help you understand the variety of roles and responsibilities in the farming sector.


Cotton Australia is proud to partner with the National Farmers’ Federation to support AgCareerSTART Farming gap year.

AgCareerSTART is a structured gap year program encouraging young Australian to try a career in agriculture by connecting them to jobs on Australian farms.

Delivered on behalf of the Australian Government, the program matches young career seekers with a host cotton farm where they can work, live and study.

On top of the skills, experience and mentoring you will receive working with your farm-host, you will also be provided FarmSafe’s basic safety training and support to complete a VET course relevant to your farm and interests. There will be many opportunities to build your network and access to significant industry events such as the National Farmers’ Federation Conference, AgFEST and AgQuip.

Registrations for interest are now open for the 2023 intake. If you are under 25 and looking to kick-start a career in agriculture or a farmer interested in registering as a host-farm find out more at:

Download a fact sheet

Off-farm jobs in cotton

Both skilled and unskilled positions are required to maintain the cotton industry’s competitive advantage. Cotton researchers actively engage in the future direction of agriculture in emerging areas such as digital technologies, robotics, and innovative engineering.

Unskilled roles in cotton research can include hand-picking cotton, bug checking, or data input. These roles can be either indoors or outdoors.

Artificial Intelligence is one example, as more farmers use technology to provide them with a competitive edge. Information technology graduates are also needed to develop the tools that the modern farm requires. By using robotics combined with AI, farmers can access better information about crop yields and they are better able to project their eventual income levels.

The use of drones is now commonplace, as farmers apply the technology to everything from property security to water, soil, and plant management. The need for people entering agricultural career options with backgrounds in the science, biology, chemistry and physics fields – allowing them to better understand soil management and plant growth – is becoming critical as global markets adapt to climate change.

Seasonal work in cotton gins

Cotton gins are factories that complete the first stage of processing cotton – separating the lint from the seed. Both skilled and unskilled workers are required during peak times, generally from Autumn to Winter, after the cotton crop is picked. Gins are located in cotton growing regions to avoid costly transport, so you will find cotton gins close to where cotton is grown.

Gin workers tend bale presses and remove the processed bales from the gin. They perform machine maintenance and ensure smooth running of processing operations. They operate forklifts and moon-buggies to transport cotton from the holding yard into the gin. As a cotton gin has to go through many procedures, a number of employees are required to participate in this process, making job opportunities arise. This work is great for seasonal jobs, and all training is done on-site.


Agriculture has career pathways from short courses, Certificate IIs, through to diplomas.

Universities, TAFE’s, Registered Training Organisations and colleges around Australia offer a range of options.

One such organisation, University of New England, works closely with the cotton industry and offers the only Cotton Production Course as part of its degree in Agriculture. The course was developed by the Cotton Research and Development Corporation (CRDC) and is offered through the University of New England. The cotton units neatly combine to form a Graduate Certificate in Agriculture (majoring in cotton production) or can be used towards a series of agriculturally-oriented degrees, diplomas and masters awards.


Cotton Australia/Upper Namoi Scholarship Program at University of New England and Charles Sturt University

The Cotton Australia/Upper Namoi CGA Scholarship supports agricultural undergraduate students transition from their university studies to progressive careers in the agricultural industry, and particularly cotton, by assisting them to meet their workplace learning requirements. Successful applicants will complete the practical placement component of their degree on a cotton farm in the Upper Namoi region of NSW, giving them practical experience and networking opportunities.

Preference will be given to students who may come from a metropolitan or a suburban setting without a family farm to pursue their career goals of working in agriculture.

Not sure if this is for you? Hear from an undergraduate student currently in their third year of a Bachelor of Agriculture majoring in general agricultural production and a recipient of one of the Cotton Australia/Upper Namoi scholarships, Madeline Bide, 2022 scholarship recipient:

“Growing up in Sydney I sought out experiences on family friend’s small acre farms and always took the opportunity to learn about agriculture on such visits. Receiving the Cotton Australia/Upper Namoi Growers Association Scholarship is an incredible opportunity to open my eyes to an area of agriculture that I am not familiar with.”

Despite Madeline having to adapt to remote learning due to COVID-19 lockdowns, through connections with Upper Namoi Cotton Growers’ Association, Madeline secured work over the summer holidays on a cotton farm:

“Living on the farm over the last month has been an eye opening and rewarding experience to the daily challenges of farming. When I first arrived planting and irrigation of approx. 4000ha of cotton commenced. We then started to harvest the canola while battling the intermittent rain. Recently the wheat harvest has started but unfortunately the rain has turned majority of the crop into feed wheat. We are currently flooded in and can’t access Wee Waa or Narrabri, hopefully the farm will be ok. Working for Auscott has been absolutely amazing so far as Charlie and the team want people to learn and expand on their knowledge of broad acre cropping.”

Above: Cotton Australia/Upper Namoi CGA 2021/22 Scholarship recipient, Madeline Bide, with Cotton Australia staff, Jenny Hughes and Alec Macintosh.

Click here to access a University of New England application.

Click here to access a Charles Sturt University application.