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Crop Scientist Job Description, Career as a Crop Scientist, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: College

Salary: Median—$48,670 per year

Employment Outlook: Poor

Definition and Nature of the Work

Crop scientists work to increase the yield of field crops by improving farming methods and developing new plant strains. Scientists generally specialize in farming production or crop development. Some specialize in particular crops, such as grains or cotton. Others work in weed control. Crop scientists work as farmers, as inspectors, and as field representatives for food processors. They are also engaged in research or are self-employed as consultants to corporations, farmers, and farm cooperatives.

Crop science researchers work for government agencies, universities, and private companies, such as seed suppliers and fertilizer manufacturers. Those who work for universities generally have teaching duties as well.

Inspection scientists work for the government or hold inspection and grading jobs with seed suppliers and producers of grain and similar products. These crop scientists are quality control inspectors who grade seed, grain, and produce according to government regulations.

Crop scientists also work as field representatives for food processing and distributing companies. As field representatives, they meet with farmers and farm cooperatives to set prices for their produce. Representatives may also advise growers on ways to improve the amount they produce or the quality of their product.

Education and Training Requirements

Interested candidates must have a bachelor's degree to become a crop scientist. An advanced degree in crop science is desirable for people interested in obtaining research positions, and a doctoral degree is generally required for a teaching job. Some colleges offer work-study programs that enable students to get practical experience.

Getting the Job

Visit the college placement office for assistance with job searches. Make contacts through work-study programs or apply directly to private companies. Large companies often send recruiters to college campuses to find qualified employees. For a government job, apply to take the necessary civil service test.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Crop scientists who do research can become project leaders. Some are eventually able to develop their own projects. Field representatives for private companies may become supervisors or managers in their company. Crop scientists who work for government agencies receive regular promotions by passing civil service tests. Some become the director of their agency.

Employment opportunities for crop scientists are expected to grow more slowly than the average through the year 2012. Those without advanced degrees will face competition.

A crop scientist conducts research for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (USDA-ARS.)

Working Conditions

Working conditions vary depending on the type of work involved. Farmers work outdoors most of the time. Researchers work in laboratories and on experimental farms. Field representatives and government inspectors travel a great deal. They may work long and irregular hours.

Where to Go for More Information

American Society of Agronomy
677 South Segoe Rd.
Madison, WI 53711
(608) 273-8080

Crop Science Society of America
677 South Segoe Rd.
Madison, WI 53711
(608) 273-8080

Earnings and Benefits

Salaries vary with education, experience, and place of employment. Crop scientists earn a median income of $48,670 per year. Benefits include paid holidays and vacations, health insurance, and pension plans.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesAgribusiness, Environment, and Natural Resources