Agriculture Field

April 9, 2021

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Agricultural career options go well beyond farming and ranching. If you love the idea of working with crops, animals and resources that contribute to the worldwide food supply, pursuing a career in agriculture could provide you with a rewarding and fulfilling future.

Seven Types of Agricultural Careers

Agriculture is big business. The industry has been around for thousands of years and, according to AgDay, approximately 22 million Americans are involved in agriculture-related industries. There are so many career possibilities, that it's easier to segment career choices by field, rather than specific jobs.

1. Agricultural Communications

Agriculture is such a big business that many of the major agricultural, farming and ranching companies house departments dedicated to promoting and marketing their products. Individuals involved in agricultural communications often work as marketers, public relations experts or journalists. Common job titles include:

  • Market news reporter
  • Farm news reporter
  • Public relations representative
  • Advertising specialist
  • Marketing communications manager
  • Regional sales manager
  • Account manager

While most of these positions will require a minimum of a bachelor's degree in business, journalism or a related field, you may be able to pursue sales jobs with limited formal education.

2. Agricultural Economics

Someone has to price, broker and assess the agricultural economy from day to day and year to year. The fact is that the agricultural economy can be greatly affected by issues like drought, flood and outbreaks of food borne illness. It's the role of the agricultural economist to address these issues. Common job titles include:

  • Grain broker
  • Farm and land appraiser
  • Resource economist consultant
  • Agricultural policy analyst
  • Insurance agent
  • Food distribution manager

Many of the agricultural economics positions require a degree in business, finance or economics, but you may be able to work your way up in some positions, like that of insurance agent, with apprenticeships and training courses.

3. Agricultural Education

Someone has to teach agricultural courses and pursue agricultural research. This largely falls on the shoulders of instructors and education specialists within the agricultural education field. While you may think teachers only exist within high school and college settings, many large agricultural organizations also employ agriculture educators and researchers. Common jobs include:

  • Education specialist
  • Education supervisor
  • Farm management
  • Soil conservationist
  • Extension advisor

4. Agricultural Engineering

One area of agriculture that requires an advanced degree within a field of engineering is agricultural engineering. Agriculture requires the extensive use of machinery, buildings, water lines and waste management, all which require expert knowledge to keep the food supply safe. Consider the following opportunities:

  • Structural engineer
  • Irrigation engineer
  • Sanitary/waste handling
  • Food engineer
  • Bioprocessing engineer
  • Machine design engineer

5. Agronomy/Soils

Agronomy deals with soil management and crop production. Most upper level positions within this field require an advanced degree in agriculture, biology or genetics, but there are some positions (particularly those in sales) that may require only a high school education and experience within the field. Opportunities include:

  • Crop specialist
  • Soil scientist
  • Fertilizer sales representative
  • Plant breeder
  • Plant geneticist
  • Soil surveyor
  • Farm supply representative

6. Animal Sciences

If you love working with livestock like pigs, cattle or horses, you may want to look into careers within animal sciences. These individuals may help with the care of animals as ranch hands or breeders, or they may take on more scientific roles as large animal veterinarians or animal geneticists. Consider the following job possibilities:

  • Livestock production manager
  • Feed sales/management
  • Livestock procurement
  • Livestock insurance representative
  • Stable management
  • Livestock feedlot operator
  • Ranch/farm hand
  • Animal scientist
  • Animal geneticist

7. Food Sciences

It's one thing to have crops and livestock on a ranch, but it's another thing entirely to turn those resources into food that's ready to be placed on the table in homes around the world. Individuals involved in food sciences deal with safety, research and product development before the food hits the shelves. Roles include:

  • Food product research and development
  • Quality assurance
  • Food chemist
  • Food microbiologist
  • Food manufacturing
  • Food researcher

Agricultural Education

Most state colleges and universities offer opportunities for undergraduate and graduate degrees within agriculture. Even if the schools you're most interested in don't appear to offer specific degrees in agriculture, pursuing an advanced degree in science, business or journalism could help you take coursework that would provide the same basic background required for a career in agriculture. It's a good idea to talk to a college counselor before signing up for classes to ensure that you're on the right track.

Gaining Experience

If you're not quite ready to commit to a particular college or career field, see if there are farms, ranches, stables, feed supply stores or agricultural sales companies that would be willing to take on an apprentice, intern or part-time employee. Working within these areas of agriculture could help you pinpoint the field that you're most interested in while also helping you earn a living. These are also good opportunities to pursue during the summer while receiving your degree because they show future employers that you've gained hands-on experience in a professional setting.

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