5 Agriculture Degree Careers

Depending on the major or minor that you pursue when you obtain your agriculture degree, you may choose from a wide variety of opportunities, from animal science to food science.

Agronomist

An agronomist studies soil science, plant genetics and meteorology. Agronomists work to improve food production and food quality. There are also opportunities in biotechnology to develop new or hardier crops, usually more resistant to environmental conditions or better for food production. Professional agronomists may also access international opportunities, so it is a good idea to learn another language while you work to complete your agriculture degree if you wish to look for study- or work-abroad opportunities.

A professional agronomist will usually have a graduate degree in agriculture, plant genetics or rural economy. Some agronomists will complete their doctorates and become professors, teaching students and conducting research at the college or university. Opportunities for PhDs in agriculture also exist outside of academia; these opportunities include working in international development and performing research for agriculture companies.

Animal Scientist

If you obtain an agriculture degree and major in animal science, you could work in creating nutrition for domestic animals, such as cows and horses, and companion animals, such as cats and dogs. Or you might improve the production of livestock and processing of plants. A person with an agriculture degree can perform quality assurance, improve the diet and care of animals or work in food safety and product analysis. Students with an agriculture degree and a major in animal science also sometimes decide to pursue a degree in veterinary medicine, especially to work with larger domesticated animals.

Agricultural Engineer

Agricultural majors that have an interest in engineering and mechanics can combine their degree with engineering or pursue a graduate degree in engineering. Agricultural engineers research, devise and maintain the machinery for food production, either from plants or animals. They also work to reduce the environmental damage that originates from agricultural production by dealing with waste and chemical products. Increasingly, agricultural engineers are also engaged in the production of biofuels, or creating energy from plants (either from food crops like corn or from non-food products such as switchgrass).

Food Scientist

A food scientist can help to develop new foods for animals or work on crop genetics. He or she may also work in food inspection, usually for the government or for a food processing and production plant. Any major company that produces food or a food products will hire food scientists to help with the creation and testing of their products.

Financial Service Provider or Salesperson

Many agriculture degree programs will allow students to minor in business, complete a combined degree or pursue an MBA. With this background, graduates go on to become grain buyers, invest or purchase agricultural commodities and futures. They will also find employment in banks, financial agencies and insurance industries that serve producers in the agricultural industry.

A person with an agriculture degree could also secure a sales positions with most of the major agricultural chemical and seed distribution companies.