Agricultural technicians evaluate how the environment impacts crops in order to help improve an operation's overall production. To do this, they conduct experiments, collect and analyze data and prepare reports based on their findings. Some agricultural technician positions require just a high school diploma, while for others, candidates are expected to have a degree in a field like animal or agricultural science.
Agricultural technicians conduct experiments and research on farms to improve production in crops or plants. They work with scientists in analyzing and recording data. Educational requirements depend on the employer, but many of these technicians have a bachelor's degree in agricultural or related sciences.
|Required Education||Variable; ranges from a high school diploma to an associate's or bachelor's degree|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||5% (for all Agricultural & Food Science Technicians)|
|Median Annual Salary (May 2015)*||$36,480 (for all Agricultural & Food Science Technicians)|
Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics
Agricultural Technician Job Description
Agricultural technicians set up experiments and coordinate the operation of farming fields with the goal of determining the effects the environment has on crop yield, disease and growth patterns. Often, the data from these experiments must then be organized, analyzed and prepared for reporting.
While these employees can learn on the job, they may also need knowledge of horticultural and range practices, safety procedures and greenhouse operations. Agricultural technicians have some autonomy and may supervise other employees; however, they may also report to others in authoritative positions, such as agricultural or farm managers.
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Agricultural Technician Job Duties
Agricultural technicians' duties can vary across the job market and typically include communication. Generally, technicians need to know how to operate greenhouses and improve the health of plants as well as maintain research, field and chemical application equipment. They often need to be able to operate vehicles or other motorized equipment and should have knowledge of procedures used in farming and land preparation.
Despite the weather conditions, their jobs often involve some physical labor in addition to writing reports that accurately record information conducted from their research and operations. They may set up the feeding of plants and crops on a range as well as maintain their inventory levels through purchasing chemicals, seeds and supplies required for use their work. It is often necessary for them to be able to sterilize and clean equipment used in labs for the tests that they conduct.
Agricultural Technician Education Requirements
Hiring agencies looking for agricultural technicians may have different requirements. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the minimum requirement for technicians is a high school education or an associate's degree.
Agriculture can be a business, profession and science, which may require a degree in agricultural or animal sciences. Agricultural science degree programs typically cover technology and the science of agriculture, agricultural machinery and laboratory methods. Animal science programs offer similar coursework and cover topics such as animal genetics, farm animal management and animal nutrition.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
In 2015, agricultural and food science technicians had an annual median salary of $36,480. The BLS projected a fast-as-average job growth of 5% from 2014-2024 for these technicians, with most new jobs in federal food inspection.
An agricultural technician has a well-rounded skill set that includes a knowledge of greenhouse operations, the ability to maintain industry equipment and an awareness of various farming procedures. They also need to have excellent communication skills, be able to diligently record data for reports and be willing to carry out physical tasks, sometimes in inclement weather. Relevant postsecondary coursework for this field can include topics in animal genetics and nutrition, laboratory methods and machinery used in agriculture.