Agricultural engineers use their educational backgrounds in agriculture and biological engineering to design the machinery used within the food and farming industries. Many learn these skills through ABET-accredited programs that may even lead them to becoming licensed as professional engineers (PE).
Agricultural engineers, or agricultural equipment design engineers, are responsible for designing the machinery and structures that are used in the farming industry. They might specialize in areas such as food processing or environmental engineering. Aspiring agricultural engineers should earn a bachelor's degree in either agricultural engineering or biological engineering. Those providing services to the public also need to seek Professional Engineer (PE) licensure.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree in agricultural or biological engineering|
|Licensure||PE licensure may be necessary|
|Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)*||5% (for agricultural engineers)|
|Median Annual Salary (May 2018)*||$77,110 (for agricultural engineers)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Engineering
Those interested in becoming agricultural engineers specializing in equipment design will first need to complete a bachelor's degree in agricultural engineering. Many agricultural engineering programs in the United States have achieved accreditation from ABET, formerly the American Board of Engineering Technology. These schools are recognized for their excellence in engineering education. In undergraduate programs, students may study such topics as earth sciences, math, soils science and physics. Additionally, students will need to master computer applications involved in computer-aided design and manufacturing.
Step 2: Gain Work Experience in Agricultural Engineering
Work experience - either as an intern during an engineering program or in an entry-level position post-graduation - helps budding agricultural engineers to develop their professional skills and engineering education. Some ABET-accredited programs will have internship opportunities designed to provide this type of career development to their students.
Step 3: Become a Licensed Professional Engineer
Not all engineers become Professional Engineers (PE). This credential is necessary for those engineers wanting to offer their services directly to the public. The requirements for licensure are usually completion of a four-year degree from an ABET-accredited program, passing the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, a period of supervised work experience and passing the Professional Engineering exam.
Step 4: Find a Position in Agricultural Design
Having finally mastered many of the skills involved in agricultural engineering, developed work experience and engaged in professional development - possibly through licensure - professionals are prepared to work as agricultural equipment designers. At this point, the engineer will either need to find a design position at an existing company or find financial backing in order to either promote a new product or develop a patent that can then be licensed to manufacturers.
As reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2018, agricultural engineers took home a median annual wage of $77,110 (www.bls.gov). Growth in the field was expected to be as fast as the national average, at a rate of 5% between 2018 and 2028.
Agricultural engineers create mechanical designs and equipment specifically for the agricultural, farming and food industries. They need a bachelor's degree in agricultural engineering then, if they desire licensure as a PE, must gain experience through internship programs and pass two exams. These engineers could earn a median salary of $77,110 in 2018, and jobs were expected to grow at as fast as average rate from 2018-2028.