Agriculture Operations

Agriculture operations workers perform many tasks that include operating equipment, taking care of livestock and harvesting crops. Read on to learn about education and training as well as employment outlook and salaries for the field.

Are Agricultural Operations for Me?

Career Summary

All farms, from small ones run by a family to large corporate farming enterprises, belong to agricultural operations. Animal production and crop production are the two major sectors of the agricultural industry. Crop workers are responsible for irrigating crops, operating harvesting machinery and applying pesticides to crops. Animal farm workers tend to the animals that are being raised, maintain farm equipment and keep animal pens clean. Agricultural managers direct the production process, hire employees and determine the most efficient methods for farm operations, just to name a few of their responsibilities.

Work Environment

Work hours may vary depending on what you are farming and what job you have in the industry. Crop growing and harvesting are usually seasonal work. You should enjoy working outdoors if you work in agricultural operations. Farm workers face a number of hazards each day, so you should be able to follow proper safety procedures if you wish work in agriculture. You may face new challenges each day as agriculture gives you a variety of work to do according to the season, weather and the tasks at hand.

Employment Outlook and Salary Statistics

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects a 3% decline in job opportunities for agricultural workers between 2012 and 2022 (www.bls.gov). Farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers should experience an employment decrease of 19% during the 2012-2022 decade. Based on BLS reports from May of 2013, animal farm workers made a median annual income of $22,650, while farmers and agricultural managers made $70,110.

How Can I Work in Agricultural Operations?

Education Requirements

Education requirements vary by occupation in the agricultural industry. Many farm hands have not completed high school and are trained on the job. If you operate heavy farm machinery, you need a commercial driver's license. If you start as a farm worker and wish to become a supervisor or manager, you usually need to be able to communicate in both Spanish and English.

Undergraduate Programs

Farm managers may not receive any formal training but it is becoming more common for managers of large farms to have a degree in agriculture. An associate's degree in agriculture can open the door to a variety of careers in the agricultural industry. Some associate's programs in agriculture may offer concentrations, such as horticulture or business management. Some schools have started to offer sustainable agriculture degree programs that teach about farming effects on the environment and renewable crop production, in addition to the business side of agriculture in a sustainable agriculture program.

Specializations

Bachelor's degree programs in agriculture may also have specialization options, including animal science and agribusiness management operations. In a bachelor's agriculture degree program, you can take courses in agronomic crops, agricultural engineering and organic gardening.

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