Agricultural Science Educator
Agricultural science educators teach students about scientific and business-related aspects of farming. This encompasses food and fiber plant crops, animal husbandry, and natural resource management. They typically teach students in middle and high schools, but they also might work in a variety of other settings. For example, they might serve as instructors at vocational schools or community colleges or as adult educators with agribusiness corporations, trade groups, or governmental agencies, such as the Cooperative Extension Service or Natural Resource Conservation Service. They often serve as Future Farmers of America (FFA) instructors in the public school system. These educators generally work during school hours and have summers off, although some have to work after school meeting with parents, students, or administrators; supervising after-school activities; or coaching sports teams.
|Degree Field(s)||Agricultural science or related field|
|Experience||None required (entry-level)|
|Licensure and Certification||State licenses required for public school teachers|
|Key Skills||Patience, speaking, instruction, and listening skills; ability to use e-mail programs and create and maintain websites|
|Salary (2015)||$58,170 per year (mean salary for all high school career/technical education teachers)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net OnLine
Let's look at the career road map for aspiring agricultural science educators.
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
Students in teacher training programs focused on agriculture education complete coursework in both teaching methodology and agriculture. They study subjects like educational psychology, student assessment, and classroom management. Agricultural courses might include soil science and crop ecology. Many colleges allow prospective agriculture teachers to focus their studies on a concentration in the field, such as animal science, agronomy, or agribusiness.
Agricultural science degree programs not related to teacher education can prepare students for entry-level employment in extension service and various private and government agriculture sectors. Students might study interpersonal communications, public relations, economics, and leadership development. They'll also take core courses in agriculture, such as animal and plant science. Many agricultural science departments allow students to customize their curricula so that their educational path matches their personal career goals.
Step 2: Complete an Internship
An agriculture education major must complete a student teaching internship that typically lasts about 12 weeks. During this time, he/she instruct students under the direction of an experienced agricultural science teacher. The intern typically leads classrooms at the high school or middle school level and also might supervise extracurricular activities.
Many agriculture science programs focused on leadership or extension also require students to complete internship programs. Students might complete internships with Cooperative Extension Services or agricultural agencies. These programs allow interns to design and carry out a variety of adult education programs under the guidance of experienced agriculture professionals.
Step 3: Obtain Licensure
Agricultural educators interested in working in public schools must hold state licensure. To be eligible for licensure, candidates must complete an accredited teacher training program and a student teaching internship. They must then pass a competency test, such as the PRAXIS exam. Teachers are typically required to maintain licensure through continuing education, and some states require teachers to obtain a master's degree after becoming licensed.
Step 4: Advance Your Career
Agricultural science educators who want to advance their career might go on to obtain a master's degree. An advanced degree can lead to better job options and increased salary. Educators who hold a master's degree might choose to teach agricultural science at a community college or 4-year college or university. They also might qualify for jobs in environmental education, range management, public relations, or marketing.
In summary, an agricultural science educator needs a minimum of a bachelor's degree. He/she must complete an internship and, if necessary, attain state licensure. Advanced education could lead to more job opportunities and a higher salary.