Plant Engineer: Career and Salary Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in plant engineering. Read on to learn more about career options along with education and key skills information. Schools offering Industrial Engineering degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Plant Engineer?

Plant engineers, also known as horticultural or agricultural engineers, design and build greenhouses and hydroponics systems. They also design and test equipment to maintain and improve farming structures. In addition, plant engineers can focus on changing various factors to make animal or crop production more efficient. For example, they might develop a waste disposal system for livestock or an automated fertilization system for crops. Alternatively, they may work on the storage and processing of agricultural products. The job requires the use of advanced computer software and a specialized knowledge of agricultural engineering principles. For more about education requirements, the benefits of a graduate degree and career options, read on!

Degree Required Bachelor's in Engineering
Education Field of Study Agricultural engineering or biological engineering. biosystems engineering, food engineering, ecology, soil biology and bioenergy
Key Skills Designing sustainable environmental solutions for farms
Median Salary (2015) $75,090*

Source: *Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Type of Education Do I Need for a Career as a Plant Engineer?

Plant engineering is also known as horticultural engineering or controlled environment agriculture. Many plant engineering positions require a bachelor's degree in a field of engineering.

You could enroll in a bachelor's degree program in biosystems engineering, bioenvironmental engineering, environmental engineering or agricultural engineering. An undergraduate program in biosystems engineering will teach you to combine engineering concepts with knowledge of how biological systems interact with their environments in order to design sustainable environmental solutions. As a biosystems engineering major, you could expect to take basic science and engineering courses, as well as specialized electives, such as design courses in biosystems engineering and courses in food engineering, ecology, soil biology and bioenergy.

Would a Graduate Degree Benefit Me?

Although a graduate degree is not required for a career as a plant engineer, an advanced degree could open up new job opportunities for you. After completing your bachelor's degree, you could apply to a master's or doctoral degree program in biosystems engineering, bioenvironmental engineering or agricultural engineering. Choosing to pursue your graduate degree at a university that conducts research in horticultural engineering or controlled environment agriculture would give you greater opportunities to conduct research in this area and interact with other plant engineers.

What Jobs Could I Apply For?

You could apply your plant engineering knowledge to the operation and maintenance of farms. You would design, build and test farm equipment, prepare plans for waste management, optimize food production and implement renewable energy systems. Horticultural engineers also engage in the design and construction of greenhouses, hydroponics systems and other controlled environments for plant cultivation. If you hold a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in a field of engineering, you could also apply for faculty positions at universities, where you could conduct research and teach courses in horticultural engineering.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you are interested in the agriculture industry, you may consider becoming an agricultural and food scientist, where you would be expected to find safe and efficient ways to improve the environment of food products. Another similar career is the biomedical engineer, who conceptualizes and designs new equipment and computer programs for the healthcare industry. Alternatively, you could consider becoming an environmental engineer, using engineering to create technology to solve environmental threats regarding waste, water purification, and threats to public health. These career paths all require a bachelor's degree.

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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