Agriculture Career and Salary Facts

Explore the requirements for a career in agriculture. Get the facts about career options, required degrees and possible salary levels to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Landscape Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is an Agriculturist?

There are diverse career possibilities within agriculture, including managerial, scientific, and basic work opportunities. All three professions work for a similar purpose, but all play their own roles. Agricultural workers typically work outdoors on farmland, growing plants to harvest and taking care of livestock. Their tasks are monitored by agricultural managers, who in addition also ensure that the products are sold and profitable. Agricultural scientists, on the other hand, screen the farm produce in laboratories and research better methods to enhance the quality of these goods.

The following chart provides an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Farmers & Agricultural Managers Agricultural Scientists Agricultural Workers
Degree Required High school diploma at minimum; bachelor's degree preferred Bachelor's degree No High School Diploma Needed
Education Field of Study Agriculture, farm management, agricultural economics Biology, plant conservation, plant pathology On-the-job training
Licensure and/or Certification None Voluntary certification available from American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists and other organizations None
Job Growth (2014-2024) -2%* 5%* -6%*
Median Salary (2015) $64,170* $62,470* $20,090*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Agriculture Career Options Are There?

Depending on your chosen area of expertise, there are a quite a few different careers in agriculture. While there are many careers that directly involve farming or working on a ranch, these positions account for only a fragment of the agricultural business. You can work in agricultural communications and marketing, agricultural science or agribusiness management. There are also options in education, research, forestry, parks and recreation, construction, resource development, horticulture.

What Degree Levels Are Available?

Certain agriculture jobs, such as farmhands, are typically learned on the job. However, for managerial and specialized positions, a degree is recommended, per the BLS. There are 2-year associate's degree programs available as well as 4-year bachelor's degree programs. Associate's degree programs concentrations may include sustainable agriculture, agriculture science and agricultural business. Majors at the bachelor's degree level may be animal science, agribusiness management and agriculture economics.

What Courses Can I Take?

While there are many majors available at the associate's degree level, common subjects may be pest management, sustainable agriculture and animal nutrition. Courses like farm records, crop production, horticulture and gardening may also be included.

Courses in a bachelor's degree program in agriculture vary depending on the program and your chosen area of expertise. A few topics you might expect on the business and administrative side of agriculture are sales, marketing, distribution, enterprise and personnel management, agricultural commodities and industrial structure. Other production-related issues may include research, development, environmental issues, using fertilizers and soil quality.

What is the Job Market Like?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that job openings for farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers would decrease by 2% between 2014 and 2024. During the same period, the employment outlook for agricultural scientists will increase by 5%. The BLS also stated that the median salary for farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers was $64,170 in 2015. Food scientists working in the agriculture industry made a median wage of $62,470. Normal agricultural workers earned $20,090 as a median in 2015, per the BLS.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

A similar career for agricultural workers would be to take employment as an animal care worker. After earning a high school diploma, you can pursue this career by learning the skills to properly take care of animals and working at facilities like zoos or pet stores. One of the most important jobs of an agricultural manager is sales, so becoming a purchasing agent would be a great alternative. As a purchasing agent, you can help companies find quality goods to sell by being the middle-man who will locate the sellers of products, negotiate contracts, evaluate prices, and buy the items in decent condition. Lastly, becoming a zoologist is also a possible alternative to being an agricultural scientist. However, unlike farm scientists, zoologists study animals in the wild and develop solutions humans can use to protect the environment.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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