Agricultural engineers held about 2, 900 jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most agricultural engineers were as follows:
|Federal government, excluding postal service||13%|
|Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state|
|State and local government, excluding education and hospitals|
Agricultural engineers work in a variety of industries. Some work for the federal government, and others provide engineering contracting or consultation services or work for agricultural machinery manufacturers.
Agricultural engineers typically work in offices, but may spend time at a variety of worksites, both indoors and outdoors. They may travel to agricultural settings to see that equipment and machinery are functioning according to both the manufacturers’ specifications and federal and state regulations. Some agricultural engineers occasionally work in laboratories to test the quality of processing equipment. They may work onsite when they supervise livestock facility upgrades or water resource management projects.
Agricultural engineers work with others in designing solutions to problems or applying technological advances. They work with people from a variety of backgrounds, such as business, agronomy, animal sciences, and public policy.
Agricultural engineers typically work full time. Sometimes they work overtime because of weather conditions, financial pressures, or unexpected complications. Although engineers usually work in offices, weather can affect their work schedules and some outdoor projects need favorable weather. Agricultural engineers may work long hours to take advantage of good weather.
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Agricultural engineers must have a bachelor’s degree, preferably in agricultural engineering or biological engineering.
Students who are interested in studying agricultural engineering will benefit from taking high school courses in mathematics and sciences. University students take courses in advanced calculus, physics, biology, and chemistry. They also may take courses in business, public policy, and economics.
Entry-level jobs in agricultural engineering require a bachelor’s degree. Bachelor’s degree programs in agricultural engineering or biological engineering typically include significant hands-on components in areas such as science, mathematics, and engineering principles. Most colleges and universities encourage students to gain practical experience through projects such as participating in engineering competitions in which teams of students design equipment and attempt to solve real problems.
ABET accredits programs in agricultural engineering.
Analytical skills. Agricultural engineers may design systems that are part of a larger agricultural or environmental system. They must be able to analyze the needs of complex systems that involve workers, machinery and equipment, and the environment.
Communication skills. Agricultural engineers must understand the needs of clients, workers, and others working on a project. Furthermore, they must be able to communicate their thoughts about systems and about solutions to any problems they have been working on.
Math skills. Agricultural engineers use calculus, trigonometry, and other advanced mathematical disciplines for analysis, design, and troubleshooting.
Problem-solving skills. Agricultural engineers’ main role is to solve problems found in agricultural production. Goals may include designing safer equipment for food processing or reducing erosion. To solve these problems, agricultural engineers must be able to creatively apply the principles of engineering.