Agricultural Engineering and Bioengineering

Find out what to expect from a career as an agricultural engineer or a bioengineer. Learn what the job outlook is, what your potential salary would be, and find out what training and education is needed to work in these fields.

Is Agricultural Engineering and Bioengineering for Me?

Career Summary

Agricultural engineering deals with the relationships between farming methods and the environment in which crops and other biological organisms are grown. These professionals are sometimes referred to as bioengineers or biological engineers. Agricultural engineers work on agricultural equipment designs, find alternative uses for natural resources and discover solutions for problems between farming systems and crops. They can often find work in the sales, research and production sectors of the agricultural industry.

Work Environment

To work in this field, you need skills in written and oral communication so you can effectively discuss plans with other engineers and agricultural scientists. Agricultural engineers normally work 40 hours a week. Your work setting may vary depending on your specific job. If you are conducting field research on soil and biological organisms, you may work outdoors most of the time. Engineers who design or sell equipment typically work indoors.

Employment Outlook and Salary Statistics

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), agricultural engineers could see a 5% increase in jobs from 2012-2022, which is slower than the average for all occupations (www.bls.gov). Most of the growth was expected to come from the need to conserve resources while increasing crop production. Additional growth was likely to be found in renewable energy sectors. The annual median income for agricultural engineers was $74,450 in 2013, reported the BLS.

How Can I Work in Agricultural Engineering and Bioengineering?

Education Requirements

You need to have at least a bachelor's degree to qualify for most engineering positions. When choosing an engineering program, it is important to know if the program is accredited by ABET. Most states require you to complete an ABET engineering program, pass an exam and have professional experience before you can become a licensed engineer.

Areas of Study

Schools that offer a bachelor's degree program in agricultural and biological engineering may also give you specialization options that help prepare you for the specific career path you are interested in. You can choose specializations in soil and water resource engineering, bioenvironmental engineering, and bioprocess engineering. Course options for agricultural and biological engineering students may include erosion control, electrohydraulic systems and renewable energy systems. If you continue onto a master's program in agricultural engineering, you may be able to select a research project subject such as biofuels, biowaste management or bioenergy production.

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