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

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

Training/Educational Requirements: Bachelor’s degree in agricultural science is the minimum requirement; master’s degree preferred

Median Salary: $56,080 annually

Job Prospects: Good

Job Description

Although there are many different specializations or focuses within this career, there are certain tasks and duties that are the same. Agricultural scientists study and assess agricultural productivity. This role is heavily involved in ensuring all agricultural elements that go into food production are not only productive in nature, but are safe, too.

An agricultural scientist is involved in research, whether it is their specialization or not. At the basic and fundamental level, an individual in this role has an understanding of the agricultural world. They know how it relates to food production, and they look at efficiencies and ways to improve the process. Beyond the basic level, agricultural scientists focus on certain specializations. They may focus their scientific research and efforts on food, plants, animals, or agricultural environment. Specializations can be decided upon early or may take shape throughout the career path.

An agricultural scientist works for the government or for a company directly performing research and scientific measures. They may be part of a product development team, or work as a consultant to businesses concerned with agriculture. Agricultural scientists often start off performing basic research and later define a career path within this field. Much of the time, they work in a laboratory or out in the field.

An agricultural scientist is concerned with the biological process of things and how they pertain to products and processes. They currently use biotechnology and nanotechnology in their research, studies, testing, and development. Although the tasks and responsibilities may vary by specialization or environment, an agricultural scientist typically performs research and keeps up with industry trends.

Training/Educational Requirements

Although a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for an agricultural scientist, it doesn’t allow them to progress within their career. A bachelor’s degree allows the individual to work within this capacity, performing research or working in product development. This is the career path an individual works towards while furthering their education. Most often a master’s degree is not only preferred but recommended, particularly for career advancement.

To work within a certain area of specialization or to progress as an agricultural scientist, a minimum of a master’s degree is required. In some instances, particularly for higher level career options, a PhD is greatly preferred. The degree requirement is dependent on the environment in which the agricultural scientist works within, as well as the career path or specialization.

Most specializations do not require certification. However, some areas offer certifications, such as those working in soil science. Most of the time a concentrated degree within biology, chemistry, or other related scientific study is sufficient to get started as an agricultural scientist. The requirements may vary based on the individual’s specialization.

How to Get Hired

Even through tough economic times, the role of an agricultural scientist is usually quite stable. This is due in part because they may work in a number of environments or companies, including the government. With the evolution of biotechnology, there is an even greater need agricultural scientists.

Individuals in this role usually start off in a research and work their way up. They may do this as they attain higher degrees to gain experience and to advance in their career. Most agricultural scientists start out in basic research or work through product development. Some stay at this level, but many use this as a springboard to more focused and concentrated career paths. They advance by picking a specialization, or by moving from company to company working a variety of different environments and roles. Individuals with a master’s degree or PhD can advance more quickly. Selecting a specialization or showing a great deal of experience can help them move into higher postions.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook, and Career Development

Potential growth for an agricultural scientist is expected to grow at a substantial rate, or about the average rate of others. While substantial research has been done in certain areas, there are constantly new avenues evolving which contribute to the likelihood of new positions. Working in the favor of agricultural scientists is that much of the research, studies, and work aren’t dependent on a strong economy, so positions come available constantly.

Since agricultural scientists work in a wide array of roles and for a variety of companies, there is always the potential for growth. Certain specializations, such as those related to food supply and safety for example, continue to grow at a steady rate. An agricultural scientist working in a government sector has increased job security, particularly with the necessity of food education to consumers.

While jobs working within research may not grow as fast, other specializations or roles will continue to grow steadily. One of the hottest growth areas are those agricultural scientists who tie into biotechnology, a new and evolving technology used in the field. It may gain them experience within a mix of focuses including research and product development, as well as concentrating on a specialization such as agricultural inspectors or consultants.

Working Environment

At some point in their career, an agricultural scientist will likely work within a laboratory. This is where they perform research and set up elements required for their research. When starting out, the lab may be shared with many others at the same level. However, as time goes on and experience is gained, an agricultural scientist may get their own lab and office. In addition, there is field work associated with an agricultural scientist and in some cases, that may take place at a farm.

Depending on the type of specialization an agricultural scientist works within, they may spend the majority of their time in the field, at the office, at a farm, or in a research lab. If an agricultural scientist is working for a company, it is likely the working environment will be that of a typical office.

Salary and Benefits

Although the median salary for an agricultural scientist was around $56,080 in 2006, the salary range fluctuates a bit. They may earn as little as $29,620 in their early years, while an experienced agricultural scientists may earn up to $97,350 per year. The fluctuation accounts for the wide array of experience and the various specializations offered. An example of this is an agricultural scientists who works for the government earning an average salary of $91,491 a year, with a specialization in animal science.

Most of the time, agricultural scientists earn a standard benefits package along with their earnings. They will usually get medical benefits, a paid vacation, and other perks. Better perks include the potential for advancement, which is especially common for those employed by the government.

Additional topics

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