Careers in Agriculture: Not Just the Farm Anymore

careers in agricultureWhen most people think of careers in agriculture, they probably immediately think of farming and ranching: plowing the land, feeding the animals, etc. While this is a somewhat accurate portrayal of agriculture, it’s merely one small aspect of the entire agriculture picture, and with the evolution of technology, along with the growth of the world population, there are countless facets of this interesting industry to consider, many of them you probably would have never even considered, so if you don’t think you have what it takes to ride a tractor, but are still interested in a more nature-centric line of work, there are still many options out there to consider.

Today, we are discussing some of the careers you will find in the agricultural industry, and like we said before, they don’t all require you to get dirty and sunburnt, with plenty of jobs out there to suit anyone. We’ll be looking at the agricultural industry from the “career cluster” point of view, which breaks down different careers into pathways, which categorize careers into various industries by the skills and strengths required to carry them out. If you’re interested in a job in agriculture, but think it’s too late to change career paths, think again – this article on changing careers at 40, and this course on redesigning your career will help you find the perfect new job, no matter what your age.

What is Agriculture?

Agriculture covers a lot of ground, and practically countless careers fall under this broad heading – almost anything you can do as a job can be translated into an agricultural environment. A simple definition of an agricultural job is any career that deals with the management of food production, as well as any other natural resources. In order to illustrate this definition, we’ll apply it to food, specifically meat: careers in agriculture would include the landscaper that designed the farm that the animals live on, the chemist that developed the new type of feed the animals eat, the manufacturer of the machinery that slaughtered the animal, the farmer that fed the animal, the USDA worker that graded the meat for consumption, and the people who packaged it for the grocery store.

As you can tell, agriculture covers a wide swath, and much more than just farming. The agricultural industry can be broken down into seven different pathways, and within those pathways lie the various careers found there, both of which, you will find below.

Food Products and Processing Systems

Careers in this agricultural pathway are focused on the development of new types of foods, as well as keeping the methods of producing these foods as safe as possible, including analyzing and grading this food when necessary. Also included here is the preservation of food, as well as its packaging, distribution, and regulation.

  • food scientist
  • cheese maker
  • meat cutter/grader
  • microbiologist
  • food engineer
  • quality control specialist
  • storage specialist/supervisor
  • bacteriologist
  • agricultural sales
  • nutritionist/dietician/biochemist
  • produce buyer
  • food and drug inspector
  • fieldman
  • meat processor/toxicologist
  • food and fiber engineer
  • food processor

Plant Systems

Increasingly necessary as populations continue to grow, this field of agriculture not only deals with general plant and soil issues, but also ensures that the crops grown for food, fuel, and fiber are able to sustain the ever-growing world population, and are done so in a safe manner. If you’d like to combine your love of plants with your desire to eat healthy in an unusual way, this course on aquaponic gardening will how you how to grow veggies at home (along with fish) that you can cook up and eat together.

  • plant breeder/geneticist
  • agricultural educator
  • golf course superintendent
  • farmer
  • rancher
  • greenhouse manager
  • tree surgeon
  • plant pathologist
  • soil and water specialist
  • botanist
  • agriculturalist
  • forest geneticist
  • biotechnology lab technician
  • bioinformatics specialist
  • crop farm manager
  • sales representative
  • agricultural journalist
  • commodity marketing specialist
  • grain operations superintendant
  • grower

Animal Systems

If you’re an animal lover, then a job in animal systems might be right up your alley. Careers in this area are concerned with the breeding and health of the domesticated animals that are used in the production of meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. Also falling into this area are research animals and wildlife.

  • dairy producer
  • USDA inspector
  • meat science researcher
  • embryo technologist
  • livestock geneticist
  • pet shop operator
  • livestock buyer/producer
  • wildlife biologist
  • equine manager/veterinarian
  • dairy producer
  • vet’s assistant
  • reproductive physiologist
  • animal scientist
  • agricultural educator
  • animal caretaker
  • poultry manager
  • animal nutritionist
  • animal health salesperson
  • embryo transfer technician

Power, Structural, and Technical Systems

This technical area of agriculture deals with the engineering aspects of the industry, including the equipment and structures used in the various processes of this industry. To learn a bit more about this world, check out this intro course on engineering to see if this is something you might want to pursue.

  • machine operator
  • GPS technician
  • welder
  • machinist
  • database administrator
  • remote sensing specialist
  • waste water treatment plant manager
  • heavy equipment maintenance technician
  • recycling technician
  • agricultural engineer
  • communication technician
  • electronics system technician
  • equipment/parts manager
  • agricultural applications software developer/programmer
  • computer service technical support technician
  • information lab specialist

Natural Resources Systems

Focusing on natural resources, such as forests, rangelands, mining, fisheries, oil fields, water, parks, soil conservation/erosion, and various natural habitats, this area of agriculture looks to develop, manage, and conserve these important things. If this is an area you’re curious to pursue, this course on AutoCAD will introduce you to a very important computer program.

  • cartographer
  • water monitoring technician
  • hydrologist
  • fishing vessel operator/crew
  • fish hatchery manager
  • fishing vessel operator/crew
  • log grader
  • pulp and paper manager
  • soil geology technician
  • fish and game officer
  • logger
  • mining engineer
  • ecologist
  • park manager
  • wildlife manager
  • environmental interpreter

Environmental Service Systems

Also increasingly popular and crucial in today’s modern “green” society, the environmental area of agriculture is concerned with controlling pollution (especially water and air) and waste disposal, as well as promoting recycling and public health issues.

  • solid waste specialist/manager/technician
  • toxicologist
  • environmental compliance assurance manager
  • pollution prevention and control manager
  • hazardous materials handler/technician/manager
  • water quality manager
  • waste water manager
  • solid waste disposer/recycler/technician
  • health and safety sanitarian
  • water environment manager

Agribusiness Systems

Tied in with the power, structure, and technical systems, this area of agriculture focuses on the business side of those aspects, such as the sales, service, and management of that equipment, as well as any pertinent economic and entrepreneurial issues that may come about. If you’e curious to know what kind of person will succeed in the sales world, this course on sales skills will show you what you need to know to succeed in this competitive world.

  • salesperson/sales manager
  • feed and supply store manager
  • farm investment manager
  • agricultural commodity broker
  • farm manager
  • livestock rancher/breeder
  • banker/loan officer
  • field representative for bank, insurance company, government program
  • agricultural educator
  • agricultural chemical dealer
  • produce commission agent
  • dairy herd supervisor
  • livestock seller

See, we told you there was a lot more to the agriculture world than just farming. Pretty much anything having to do with plants, animals or food falls into this category, and no matter what your interests or education, you could probably find a pretty interesting agriculture job if that’s what you really want to do. If you’re a new mom who would like to get into this line of work, or any other work for that matter, this course on career re-launch for moms will help any ladies out there who have been out of the game for a while to get their work groove back.