Become a Seed Analyst: Education and Career Roadmap

Should I Become a Seed Analyst?

Seed analysts test and analyze seeds for purity, type, viability and germination rate according to standards set by the Association of Official Seed Analysts. They work full-time in lab settings and often have regularly assigned shifts. On-the-job training is common in this career field. Some travel and field work may be required.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Fields Biology or agricultural sciences
Certification May be required; can be helpful in obtaining employment
Experience Experience with testing and analysis in a laboratory setting
Key Skills Strong analytical, critical thinking and interpersonal skills; proficiency in word processing, database and spreadsheet software; understanding of seed classification and botany; familiarity with microscopes and other lab equipment
Salary (2014) $35,140 yearly (median for all agricultural and food science technicians)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Job postings from October 2012.

Step 1: Complete a Bachelor's Degree or Certificate Program

Employers tend to prefer applicants who have completed a college degree or a certain amount of college education in a relevant area, such as agriculture, biology, agronomy or plant sciences. Bachelor's degree programs in these areas typically include courses in chemistry, biology and agricultural engineering.

Step 2: Get Experience

Seed analyst positions often require some amount of prior work experience in the field. Working in a seed laboratory is one way for prospective seed analysts to become familiar with laboratory equipment and procedures. Professional organizations like the Association of Official Seed Analysts (AOSA) and Front Range Seed Analysts provide job postings and networking events. Some state-sponsored laboratories hire lower-level workers without prior experience, as long as they have a certain number of college credits in an appropriate area.

Step 3: Complete a Seed Analyst Training Program

A few universities offer certificate programs in seed technology that prepare students to take the exams for the Registered Seed Technologist or Certified Seed Analyst credentials. Coursework helps students understand the basics of seed growth and development, plant propagation, soil fertility, botany, seed science and crop production. These courses are often in the form of workshops or a series of classes over the course of one or two weeks and may be available online.

Step 4: Become Certified

AOSA offers the Certified Seed Analyst (CSA) designation, which demonstrates a level of knowledge in the field and qualifies individuals to work in federal and state laboratories. To earn the designation, applicants must take a written exam that tests identification of various types of seeds.

Alternatively, the Registered Seed Technologist designation (RST), conferred by the Society of Commercial Seed Technologists (SCST), offers an exam to qualify workers for employment in commercial and private seed laboratories. To take the exam, individuals must have two years of work experience and a certain amount of education; details can be found on the organization's website.

Step 5: Continue Your Education

Individuals going the Registered Seed Technologist route must complete mandatory continuing education through SCST to maintain their registration status. Continuing education units are also available through AOSA for those whose jobs require them. Advancement by becoming a food scientist can require a graduate degree but according to the U.S. Department of Labor the median salary for a food scientist was $61,480 in 2014.

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