Agriculture involves the commercial production of plant and animal products including fruits, vegetables, nuts and honey, as well as timber, beef, poultry, pork and fish. Many jobs in this field require performing the physical tasks necessary to cultivate such products. Agricultural careers also include jobs in research, inspection and management.
An agricultural scientist develops ways to get the highest quality and quantity of agricultural products, while having the least negative impact on the environment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that this includes finding ways to maximize crop yield, safely control pests and conserve natural resources. An agricultural scientist may use biotechnology to genetically engineer hardier, more plentiful crops or research methods for producing fuel from plant sources. An agricultural scientist who wishes to work in product development or applied research needs only a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science; if she desires a university research position, however, she will need a master’s degree or Ph.D., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. All states offer agricultural science degrees through one or more land-grant universities, though the specializations available differ. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 16 percent job growth for agricultural and food scientists between 2008 and 2018, resulting in 4,800 new jobs. In May 2008, animal scientists earned a median income of $56,030 per year, and soil and plant scientists earned a median income of $58,390 annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
An agricultural inspector works for a state or federal government to enforce laws and regulations pertaining to agricultural establishments. According to O_Net Online, this includes performing such tasks as collecting samples from plants, animals and products; interpreting regulations and explaining the requirements to agricultural workers; ensuring sanitary conditions at slaughterhouses and meat processing facilities; providing written reports of findings; detailing to agricultural workers how to bring their establishments into compliance; and closing facilities, if needed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that an agricultural inspector needs to have prior experience in a related field, possibly augmented with relevant college coursework. With a growth rate of 13 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects 2,100 jobs to open up for agricultural inspectors between 2008 and 2018. The median annual income for agricultural inspectors, according to O_Net Online, was $41,500 in 2009.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that an agricultural manager coordinates the operation of one or more agricultural establishments, including farms, ranches, timber tracts and nurseries. By watching the market price of agricultural products, he determines which crops to grow, which animals to raise, and when to take the products to market. addition, the agricultural manager hires, trains, and supervises the laborers who carry out the daily physical tasks farming requires: planting, pruning and watering plants; feeding and sheltering animals. At one time, farming basically required on-the-job training, but agricultural managers often need to secure an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in agricultural science. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a school of agriculture exists in at least one land-grant university in each state; a prospective agricultural manager should choose a program that matches his particular interests and geographical region. While employment for self-employed farmers and ranchers is expected to decline between 2008 and 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the number of jobs available for agricultural managers to increase by 6 percent during that time. While the income of agricultural managers varies widely and depends on a number of factors, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the 2008 median weekly earnings of agricultural managers totaled $775.