Agriculture is one of the most important industries in the world. It provides us with food, clothing and shelter. It’s no surprise that the industry is growing and supplying the job force with many different types of careers.
While farming may be your first thought when it comes to agricultural jobs, there are actually hundreds of different specialties and niches within the industry, from scientists to economists and more. These jobs require special skills, and some even require advanced degrees.
From working on farms to testing the soil quality in different areas, agriculture offers diverse career opportunities.
1. Farmers and Ranchers
It’s hard to talk about agriculture without mentioning farming and ranching. This career field is as varied as the subject of agriculture itself is: there are dairy farmers, livestock ranchers, fruit growers, crop farmers, and organic farmers, just to name a few.
Some of these types of farming are new, like cannabis and organic farming, while other types of farming go back generations, and have a long history in the United States and around the world.
Farmers are the people who grow crops and raise livestock, but they are also so much more. They are often responsible for the business side of their farming operations, from marketing to budgeting and more.
They work on farms, in fields and greenhouses, around livestock, with plants, soil and water. They can be found all over the world doing different things: some fish in rivers; some grow coffee beans or cocoa trees; some work on farms with animals like cattle or sheep.
2. Agricultural Economists
If you’re a numbers person and like to apply your education to the real world, then agricultural economics may be just the career for you.
Agricultural economists are responsible for analyzing and interpreting data to help farmers make informed decisions about their crops and livestock.
In order to become an agricultural economist, individuals must have a bachelor’s degree in economics or agricultural business management, as well as a master’s degree in agricultural economics or another related field (such as business administration). In addition, those who want to work as agricultural economists should consider obtaining a PhD in their area of study.
While completing their education, aspiring agricultural economists are encouraged to gain experience working with people by volunteering or interning at local farms or ranches. Additionally, they should develop skills related to data analysis during their time spent studying in college.
3. Farm Managers and Operators
Farm managers and operators are responsible for the day-to-day operations of a farm. Their primary function is to manage the finances, make sure all equipment is working properly, hire and fire employees and oversee marketing and sales. These individuals may be paid by commission or hourly wages.
The most important role of the farm manager is to make sure that everything on the farm runs smoothly. They are responsible for supervising employees as well as all operations on the farm or ranch. The manager must also work closely with the owner of the farm to ensure that all tasks are completed on time and within budget.
4. Agricultural Engineers
Agricultural engineers are responsible for designing and improving the efficiency of a variety of agricultural production systems. They may also be involved in planning and implementing food processing facilities, ensuring that crops meet certain chemical requirements, or developing new technologies for farming equipment.
Agricultural engineers must be skilled in soil science, physics and chemistry as well as computer modeling techniques. In addition to a bachelor's degree in agricultural engineering from an ABET-accredited institution, individuals interested in this career should consider taking courses in biology, chemistry or physics at the undergraduate level before applying for graduate programs.
5. Nursery Workers
Nursery workers are responsible for the care of plants and trees, from germination to planting. To become a nursery worker, you must be willing to work outdoors in all weather conditions.
Nursery workers must also have patience and enjoy working with living things because their job requires them to spend long periods of time with their charges. They must also possess excellent manual dexterity since they spend large amounts of time doing repetitive tasks like watering and trimming plants.
The job outlook is good thanks to increased demand for plants as well as the need for maintenance of existing plantings due to climate change and natural disasters like forest fires.
6. Agricultural Inspectors and Testers
In this job, you’ll work with farmers and manufacturers to ensure that their products meet government standards.
As an agricultural inspector, it's your job to make sure food is produced safely and efficiently for consumers. This can include inspecting animal feed, meat processing plants, egg farms or milk production facilities. You may also inspect transportation vehicles used for transporting agricultural products such as trucks or trains.
Agricultural inspectors are usually employed by state agencies or food inspection companies that specialize in inspection services for specific types of products (such as produce). They may also work at private laboratories where they test food samples before they reach consumers so their quality meets federal regulatory guidelines.
7. Agricultural Scientists and Researchers
If science was your best subject in school and you have a passion for agriculture, a career as an agricultural scientist or researcher might be right for you.
Agricultural scientists and researchers are employed by the federal government, state governments, colleges and universities, private industry, or nonprofit organizations.
Their work includes research that can cover a broad spectrum of topics, including:
Crops and livestock
The work of agricultural and food scientists can be divided into three main categories:
Research to improve crops and livestock,
Research to improve farm production
Research to improve farm management.
8. Animal Veterinarians
Animal veterinarians are needed to help animals stay healthy and safe. They need to be able to treat animals of all kinds, from livestock to pets. Veterinary medicine is a growing field, with most of the population owning a pet or animal of some kind.
Veterinarians can specialize in small, large, or exotic animals, depending on their experience and preference.
Animal veterinarian usually have a bachelor's degree in a field related to animal science, then go on to veterinary school to graduate with their degree in veterinary medicine.
Veterinarians often work with other professionals in fields like genetics or nutrition to make sure animals are healthy. Veterinarians may work at zoos or wildlife centers where they'll need advanced degrees if they're working with exotic species like wildlife or marine animals.
9. Agricultural and Food Science Technicians
Agricultural and Food Science Technicians perform a variety of tasks related to the development, production, and testing of agricultural products. They often work in laboratories or greenhouses where they conduct experiments on plants and animals.
Agricultural technicians must have strong math skills to test soil composition, make charts and graphs that show results of tests, calculate amounts needed for fertilizer applications, and record data from laboratory tests in databases or tables.
Agricultual and Food science technicans work may also include:
Evaluating experimental results against expected outcomes based on formulas used during their development
Analyzing water quality
Collecting data about harvest yields for crops such as fruits/vegetables/grains grown commercially by farmers
Using specialized computer programs
Agricultural science technicians also develop new products through research and the use of existing technology. This requires knowledge about chemistry and biology.
10. Animal Nutritionist
If you enjoy working with animals and are good at math, a career as an animal nutritionist might be right for you!
Animal nutritionists are responsible for calculating and determining the correct feed ration for livestock. They generally work on-farm, alongside farmers and ranchers.
They need to have strong math skills, as there are a lot of calculations and formulas that are used to calculate the optimal feed ration for livestock.
Animal nutritionists generally have a bachelor’s degree in a field related to animal science, and a master’s degree or PhD in animal nutrition.
The agricultural industry is a great place to find a rewarding career. There are many different types of careers that you can pursue and the industry is growing rapidly.
From farm management to ranching to animal nutrition, there are hundreds of different career paths and niches to work in! We wish you the best in your search.