Agriculture is a multibillion dollar industry that employed 1.8 million people in 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Agricultural industries include the wholesale and retail trade of agricultural goods, and production and processing. Many well-paid jobs provide services that support these activities. Managerial positions are listed among the top 25 highest-paying jobs, as are veterinarians and engineers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics survey.
Agricultural engineers apply their knowledge of scientific engineering principles and agricultural practice to agricultural problems. The role requires the engineer to protect and preserve living things and resources, using a combination of mechanical, electronic and civil engineering. This can include designing buildings and equipment, examining water usage and distribution, and streamlining the processing of agricultural end products. The salary can vary, with the highest paid engineers working as consultants for large corporations. Entry to the profession requires a bachelor's degree in agricultural engineering; employees can expect to earn in excess of $60,000.
Veterinarians working in agriculture care for livestock and horses; they will diagnose health issues, medicate animals suffering from illness, perform surgery, and provide advice on breeding, feeding and behavioral issues. The American Medical Veterinary Association reports that about 16 percent of veterinarians work in private mixed and food animal practices. Becoming a veterinarian takes eight years; the median annual salary in 2008 was $79,050, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Agricultural managers are required to oversee the day-to-day activities of one or several farms, nurseries, ranches, greenhouses or timber tracts. The manager may own the farm or operate it on behalf of an absentee landlord. On small farms, the manager may be responsible for the entire business practice. On larger farms, she may manage just one aspect, such as production or marketing. Salaries can vary widely, with the highest paid managers working for large international corporations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest paid 10 percent of agricultural managers earn in excess of $90,000 a year. Entry to the profession can require candidates to have completed a four-year bachelor’s degree at an agricultural college.