Professionals in the field of agricultural technology work to grow and harvest plant products, manage livestock and improve the agricultural field. Individuals can find a variety of educational and training courses within certificate and degree programs. Potential course studies may include soil science, domestic animal production, horticulture and farm management.
Most undergraduate certificate programs only require a high school diploma or GED for enrollment. Many community colleges accept students with little to no educational background in the field. Universities offering certificate programs may require some postsecondary learning in agricultural sciences, biology, chemistry and mathematics.
Program specializations may include dairy science technology, landscaping or beef science. Internships and practicum may be required.
Agricultural Technology Certificate
Community colleges and 4-year universities often offer certificate programs in agricultural technology that focus entirely on plant or animal technology. In these programs, students are required to gain a fundamental understanding of agricultural processes and the types of equipment and tools used to grow plants, breed animals and maintain outdoor environments. Agricultural technology certificate programs contain a variety of core courses as well as electives based upon individual interests in the field. Some examples might include plant pathology, parasitology, and the following:
- Wildlife ecology
- Fertilizer and soil sciences
- Animal science
- Agricultural progression
- Field applications in agriculture
Associate of Applied Science in Agricultural Technology
Associate's degree programs in agricultural technology cover the same core concepts as certificate programs in the field, while allowing students to further develop a particular concentration. Many of these 2-year programs recommend or require students to select a particular field of study in plant or animal science. Students learn about new and tested methods of farming and using agricultural equipment. They are also often required to gain hands-on training in the field, working with actual crops or animals in an internship program or practicum course before graduation. Courses included within are often divided into classroom lecture and laboratory formats. Some examples from both the plant science and animal science concentrations include Intro to Agriculture and the following:
- Domestic animal production
- Animal disease control
- Sustainable agriculture
- Farm management
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Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Technology
Some 4-year colleges and universities offer bachelor's degree programs in agricultural technology, although these are often more specialized than associate's degree programs in the field. Students can enroll in degree programs that focus on environmentally sound agriculture technology, agriculture mechanization or horticulture technology. The interdisciplinary programs combine elements of science and agriculture with courses in business and technology. Some examples of courses might include macroeconomics, horticulture and the following:
- Introduction to agriculture
- Agricultural mechanics
- Plant and animal science
- Safety in agricultural technology
- Farm machinery
- Hydraulics and pneumatics
Popular Career Options
Certificate programs in agricultural technology provide individuals with the hands-on training and educational background necessary to work with agricultural tools and equipment. Those with a sufficient educational background may also choose to enter a scientific or research field as an assistant. Some available positions for graduates might include:
- Farm manager
- Crop manager
- Agricultural machinery operator
- Fertilizer application operator
- Farm inspector
A bachelor's degree in agricultural technology can open doors to several careers in the agricultural industry, depending on a student's chosen concentration in the field. A sample of some opportunities includes:
- Agricultural production supervisor
- Engineering research assistant
- Farm facilities manager
- Farm equipment sales manager
- Produce warehouse supervisor
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), agricultural and food science technicians held more than 20,260 jobs in 2015, and employment was projected to increase by 5% between 2014-2024. Jobs for this type of work spanned several industries, including academia, scientific research services, meat processing companies and food manufacturing companies. The BLS reported a median annual salary for agricultural and food science technicians in 2015 of $36,480 per year.
Continuing Education Options
Food science and agricultural technicians who are interested in becoming managers in the field may consider enrolling in a bachelor's degree program in agricultural technology management. Baccalaureate and master's degree programs in business administration offer general management training. Graduate programs in agricultural engineering are designed for those individuals who want to improve and develop new agricultural machinery, equipment and processes.
Students who earn a bachelor's degree in agricultural technology can also go on to receive master's degrees or specialized graduate certificates in the field. Such programs allow students to specialize in subjects such as agribusiness, agricultural education, agricultural economics, food science technology and industrial agricultural technology. Graduates can become researchers or educators in the field, or can earn positions as the engineers of agricultural systems and processes.
Training in agricultural technology is available at the certificate, associate's and bachelor's degree levels and teaches students about both plant and animal technologies. Advanced postgraduate degrees are available and are designed for those interested in agricultural technology education, research or engineering.