Students with an interest in agribusiness have many educational options with certificate programs as well as associate and bachelor's degree programs in the agricultural industry. Some programs may offer online study opportunities. All require a high school diploma.
Certificate programs are generally short in length, only 1 to 2 semesters. Students explore animal and plant science and crop fertilization principles. Graduates may be prepared for careers such as sales specialists or farm administrative assistants.
Associate's degree programs may emphasize soil science and farm resource management. Students learn to become entrepreneurs in the field of farming. Some schools offer courses fully or partially online. An associate degree program typically takes two years to complete.
Students of bachelor's degree programs could learn about topics such as personnel management and agricultural development. Some bachelor's degree programs in agribusiness allow students to choose a concentration, such as general farming management or animal science. Professionals in the field may benefit by completing the program through online learning.
Certificate Programs in Agribusiness
Certificate programs in agricultural business is usually sufficient to gain entry-level employment or transfer into a degree program in agribusiness or a related discipline. Common topics covered in a certificate program include farm management, employee and labor issues, accounting, marketing and legal subjects. Additional coursework may include:
- Crop fertilization
- Agribusiness industries
- Animal and plant science
- Conserving natural resources
Associate Degree Programs in Agribusiness
An associate degree program in agribusiness combines the study of agricultural science with business management training. Courses in an associate degree program provide foundational business skills attributed to farming and agricultural industries. General education is also a common component of a curriculum. Some course topics may include:
- Science of soil and crops
- Accounting strategies
- Technology in agribusiness
- Farm resource management
- Economic impacts on agriculture
Bachelor's Degree Programs in Agribusiness
In a bachelor's degree program in agribusiness, students usually apply learned skills in a practical setting through work co-op or internship opportunities. Many programs also offer research opportunities and hands-on experience in greenhouses, agriculture offices and farming environments. Course topics include:
- Environmental issues
- Agricultural commodities
- Sales, marketing and distribution
- Managing personnel
- Agricultural development and research
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment is anticipated to decline 2% for farmers, ranchers and agricultural managers during the 2014-2024 decade, largely due to technological improvements in farming equipment and the increasing ability to produce more crops with fewer workers. However, due to greater awareness and regulations regarding food safety, agricultural and food scientists are expected to see 5% growth in employment, and positions for agricultural and food science technicians are expected to increase by 5% as well.
As of May 2015, the BLS reports that general farmworkers and laborers bring in a median salary of $19,770 per year, while farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers earn a median annual income of $64,170. Additionally, soil and plant scientists earn a median of $60,050 per year.
Graduates with a bachelor's degree in agribusiness may choose to enter the profession immediately; however, earning a master's or doctoral degree in agribusiness may increase employment and salary opportunities. Master's degree programs typically offer concentrated studies in management techniques and business practices in farming, livestock management and crop control. Doctoral programs provide a focus on research and the economics of agribusiness. Those with a graduate degree may also choose to teach in the field at secondary and postsecondary schools.
Agribusiness training is offered at the certificate, associate's and bachelor's degree levels and provides students with a foundation in farm business and management. Although bachelor's degrees in agribusiness prepare graduates to enter the agriculture industry immediately, advanced degrees offer more concentrated studies and may increase job opportunities.