What Can You Do With A Degree in Agriculture?

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The subject of agricultural science focuses on everything from biological processes to economic aspects involved in agriculture growth and distribution. It can be a very complex subdivision of biology. What, then, can you do with a degree in agriculture? This article explores the basics of agricultural science, schools at which you can earn agriculture degrees, and examples of types of careers you may qualify for once you earn a degree in agricultural science.

Studying Agricultural Science

Agricultural science encompasses many different areas of study, including various types of biology, necessary to understand how to not only be a successful farmer but to develop ways to improve the act of farming for farmers around the world. It is important for people studying agricultural science to become familiar with the marketing, economics, philosophical, and engineering aspects of the production and distribution of agriculture byproducts for these reasons, as well. Other topics often covered in the study of agricultural science may be included in the list below.

Botany

Animal science

Waste management

Environmental science

Microbiology

Food science

Entomology

Agriculture Degree Programs

Many colleges and universities offer agricultural science programs to undergraduate and graduate students alike. It is important that you choose a program that best suits your goals for the future. If agriculture is appealing to you but you’re still uncertain of what you want to do, then speak with your high school guidance counselor for advice. He or she can help you determine how to choose a school that offers courses that are of particular interest to you, and he or she may also be able to assist you in deciding how to best prepare for further studies in agriculture by suggesting specific courses you can take during your junior or senior year of high school.

In Canada, students can attend the University of Lethbridge to earn either a Bachelor of Arts in Agricultural Studies or a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Studies. These programs prepare students to work with crops, animals, and farmers and scientists in order to improve the world of agriculture. The Bachelor of Arts in Agricultural Studies degree is designed to educate students in the economics, geography, public policy, and more involved in cultivating crops and caring for livestock. The Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Studies degree program is designed to teach students the ins and outs of both animal and plant physiology, genetics, ecology, and more in order to better scientifically serve the farming industry. Both bachelors degree programs offer a concentration in Agricultural Business, as well.

Charles Sturt University is a school in Australia that offers a Bachelor of Agriculture to domestic and international students, with the opportunity to earn the degree in the classroom or online. The degree program focuses on the various sciences involved in agriculture, including but not limited to chemistry, biology, and soil science. Faculty members also teach students the basics of agricultural business and economics. Students earning a Bachelor of Agriculture at CSU also learn how to apply the knowledge they gain from coursework to real-world situations, with topics ranging from animal nutrition to pasture agronomy. Students at CSU can expect to learn about agriculture through the most recent developments and discoveries made by the EH Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation.

The Department of Agricultural Sciences at Morehead State University, located in Morehead, Kentucky, provides plenty of programs for options relevant to agriculture. These option programs include everything from Agribusiness to Animal Science. Students choosing from these options are typically enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Science degree program and have specific career goals in mind. It is possible, however, to enroll at Morehead State University without having an option in mind for the bachelors degree in agricultural science. The university has plenty of options for undergraduate students to consider, so students unsure of career paths have plenty of time and assistance to help decide the paths that are right for them.

Careers in Agriculture

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Believe it or not, agriculture isn’t just about planting crops and raising livestock. Yes, those are both very popular and well-known options; but there are many other career options available to people with agricultural science degrees. Considering your options while you are still in the process of earning your agriculture degree will help you better form your studies to match your career goals.

Entry Level Careers in Agriculture

Once you earn an associates degree or bachelors degree in agricultural science, you will have advanced knowledge particularly beneficial for various careers. Some careers you may qualify for are described here.

Commodity Trader

A commodity trader in the agricultural industry is hired to sell raw goods produced by farmers (i.e., corn, grain, etc.) to various product manufacturers, often within the food industry. He or she is also often responsible for arranging transportation of the goods as well as putting together futures contracts, which consist of the quantity of the product being shipped, its estimated delivery time, and the destination of the product. Commodity traders in the agricultural industry often possess bachelor degrees in finance or business with a strong background in agriculture, or they may have degrees in agriculture with background knowledge in finance and business. They also have great verbal and written communication skills and are particularly skilled negotiators.

Depending on the industry in which they work, commodity traders may earn an annual salary of over $40,000.

Sales Agronomist

A sales agronomist serves as a sort of consultant to farmers, suggesting the most effective products to protect their fertilizer and crops. In order to determine the most accurate protection, he or she may also take soil samples to monitor insect interactions and weed growth. Sales agronomists typically possess bachelor degrees in agriculture with a strong background in agronomy. They also have outstanding interpersonal skills and research capabilities.

Sales agronomists may earn over $45,000 annually, based on education and experience levels.

Advanced Careers in Agriculture

After obtaining a few years of experience in the field of agriculture or completing an advanced degree program, such as a masters degree in agricultural science or related field, you may find that you qualify for one or more of the positions described in this section.

Agricultural Chemist

An agricultural chemist spends his or her time both in the lab and out in the fields. He or she gathers samples of soil and crops and returns to the laboratory to perform tests in order to determine ways to improve quality crop growth. Agricultural chemists often possess master degrees or doctorate degrees in agricultural science, chemistry, biochemistry, or other related subjects. They have outstanding research and analytical skills and good communication skills, as well.

Agricultural chemists may earn around $64,000 a year, often based on education and experience levels.

Dairy Plant Manager

A dairy plant manager oversees all activity within the plant, including but not limited to production, packaging, and proper safety practices. He or she may also monitor scheduling and inspect finalized products to ensure the plant is producing top quality goods. Dairy plant managers typically possess bachelor degrees in agriculture or other related fields as well as quite a few years of experience working within the dairy industry. Background knowledge in business management is particularly helpful. They have outstanding leadership abilities and are also highly organized.

Dairy plant managers may earn over $65,000 annually, based on education and experience levels.

Companies that Hire People with Agriculture Degrees

If you decide not to start your own farm or take over the family business by traveling the entrepreneurial route, then this section will help you get an idea of the sorts of places that offer jobs to people with agriculture degrees.

Green Plains, Inc. – headquarters in Omaha, NE; hires positions for process safety management coordinators, process safety management administrators, grain handlers, materials handlers, various types of commodity traders, etc.

DairiConcepts, L.P. – locations throughout the US; hires positions for lab technicians, production clerks, lab supervisors, production process operators, etc.

Foremost Farms USA Dairy Cooperative – headquarters in Baraboo, WI; hires positions for environmental, health, safety, and sustainability managers; also hires dairy ingredient plant managers, various production associates, quality control supervisors, etc.

Scheresky Ag Service – located in Max, ND; hires positions for sales agronomists, etc.

The agriculture industry will never completely disappear; without crops and livestock, the human race would be unable to survive. Therefore, there will always be job opportunities. They may not always be the easiest to find, but jobs relevant to agricultural science will never become altogether extinct. If you are interested in assisting in providing others with quality foods necessary for survival, then consider earning an agriculture degree.

Author: Rose Boettinger

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