Jobs in Agribusiness: Career Options and Requirements

Jan 06, 2020

Agribusiness degree jobs span a range of areas from traditional farming to marketing. Read on for details on agribusiness careers and the educational backgrounds they require.

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The field of agribusiness offers numerous career opportunities ranging from traditional farming occupations to business-related areas like marketing and finance. Education requirements vary based on an individual's specific area of interest; careers in farming often require primarily on-the-job training while more business-related specialties can require undergraduate degrees. For example, students interested in marketing for agricultural companies may be able to tailor their degree in marketing toward that specialization.

Agribusiness Career Options

Below are some of the most widely-recognized career options within agribusiness.

Agricultural Manager

Agricultural managers oversee daily operations on agricultural establishments like farms and ranches. Typical duties include managing employees who work with crops and farm animals and supervising the upkeep of the property and its equipment. Additionally, agricultural managers may create budgets and oversee plans for selling crops or other farm products. Besides working at typical crop and livestock farms, agricultural managers can also work in nurseries or aquaculture facilities. Agricultural managers can begin their careers once they have earned a high school diploma since most learning occurs on the job. However, some earn an associate's or bachelor's degree in agricultural science or a related field.

Food Scientist

Agriculture and food science is another career option related to agribusiness. Food scientists can study crops, livestock, and farm animals with the goal of increasing safety and productivity. These scientists may examine biological and chemical processes that contribute to crop growth and farm animal development. Food scientists may also work to enhance the nutritional value of processed foods and to develop new food products. Some food scientists focus on food safety and inspect food processing facilities to make sure they comply with safety regulations. Agricultural and food scientists typically have at least a bachelor's degree, and some food science programs are available online.

Extension Agent

As employees of universities or government agencies, extension agents educate people in their state on topics related to agriculture like nutrition, animal production, and community concerns. Agents identify issues of interest and create education programs on those topics. They provide instruction either to community members or to students at their state's land-grant university. Extension agents can also serve as experts who provide information to citizens on agriculture-related topics. They may create and maintain volunteer networks and work with related community organizations like 4-H. Extension agent positions usually require at least a bachelor's degree.

Additional Agribusiness Degree Jobs

Individuals with an interest in agriculture and business can pursue additional career paths. Agribusiness degree jobs can also include the following:

  • Agricultural Lobbyists: work with government officials and policymakers; represent agricultural interests
  • Grain Buyers: coordinate grain purchases by farmers with companies providing grain and materials
  • Agricultural Loan Officers: evaluate, approve, and manage funding loans to farmers
  • Agricultural Science Educators: instruct students in science, math, and agricultural methods; provide educational development opportunities for students
  • Marketing Specialists: develop and execute marketing strategies for agricultural companies providing seed, fertilizer, equipment, and related products

Agribusiness Education Requirements

Although traditional farmers can enter the field with a high school diploma, recent trends toward more complex methods and issues have prompted many agricultural professionals to earn an associate's or bachelor's degree. For many positions related to agribusiness, post-secondary education is required. Degrees are available at undergraduate and graduate levels.

Associate's Degrees

Two-year degree programs related to agribusiness can be found at many community colleges. Programs are available for students interested in entering the workforce after two years of study and for students hoping to transfer to a four-year institution, and some agribusiness programs are available online. In addition to general education courses, agribusiness associate's programs typically include classes in:

  • Economics
  • Marketing
  • Management
  • Animal science
  • Crop production
  • Soil science

Bachelor's Degrees

At the undergraduate level, students can also earn bachelor's degrees in agribusiness and related areas. These programs prepare students to work in the growing agribusiness sector by equipping them with fundamental business knowledge blended with perspectives unique to the agriculture sector. Degrees can be earned in three to four years and often include coursework in:

  • Management
  • Agricultural economics
  • Business statistics
  • Food production
  • Finance

Graduate Degrees

Individuals interested in advancing their careers in agribusiness can find relevant master's and doctoral programs. Master's degrees in this area emphasize skills agribusiness managers need to help their organizations succeed, and some programs offer classes online. Doctoral program options are more limited, but some programs allow students to design courses of study emphasizing agribusiness in combination with study in finance, management, or related areas. Common course topics include:

  • Logistics
  • Financial management
  • Risk management
  • International agribusiness
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