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Agriculture Careers for Veterans

Feb 22, 2018

Many veterans have the desire and tenacity to work in the agricultural industry, as farmers, ranchers, agricultural engineers, and in food science. Organizations like the Farmer Veteran coalition are welcoming veterans to agriculture based upon shared values and traditions.

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Veterans may be surprised to find that the technical, engineering, or administrative skills they developed in the military translate well into agriculture. There are a number of careers in which veterans can work in the food production industry. Below are a few from which veterans can choose.

Career Comparison

Job Title Median Wage (2016)* Job Growth (2016-2026)* Applicable Military Skills/Traits
Agricultural and Food Science Technicians $37,550 6% Experience in quality control, laboratory sampling and testing
Agricultural and Food Scientists $62,920 7% Skills in data gathering and analysis for efficiency and safety
Farmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural Managers $66,360 -1% Experience with machinery and equipment
Agricultural Engineers $73,640 8% Experience with power generation, construction, and pollution mitigation
Agricultural Inspectors $42,800 4% Quality control experience, laboratory testing, document handling

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Civilian Careers in Agriculture for Veterans

The new food movement is inspiring to many veterans who imagine using their military skills to raise produce and livestock. In fact, many military skills do translate to the farm, such as construction, engineering, research and testing. Agriculture is an industry with traditional values that may make veterans feel at home.

Agriculture and Food Science Technicians

Veterans with experience in testing and analysis for quality control may find this a good career. The testing need not be in food. It is the process of sampling, lab work, and use of the testing equipment which matters most.

Agriculture and food science technicians work with scientific researchers and typically require an associate's degree. They perform the sampling and laboratory work on food and agricultural products that are tested for purity and contamination that could affect health and safety.

Agricultural and Food Scientists

Military veterans with technical experience researching materials, chemicals, and biological samples, or as military agriculture inspectors, may find this a good career choice. A bachelor's degree and a background in research and testing could be a good stepping stone to a career as an agricultural and food scientist.

Agricultural and food scientists produce research regarding the food supply. They search for ways to improve food quality, increase safety, and eliminate inefficiencies. They conduct long-term tests in the field and report on their results.

Farmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural Managers

For military veterans who love the notion of farming and agriculture, managing an agricultural enterprise could be a great experience. Many military skills translate into farm management, including management of installation and repair of equipment, inventory control, purchasing, and bookkeeping.

This is a broad category that includes a number of distinct industries. Farmers raise crops, both annual row crops as well as orchards. Ranchers raise livestock, such as cattle, hogs, and lamb. There are also associated agricultural industries such as beekeeping. Most managers in this industry don't have advanced degrees.

Agricultural Engineers

Veterans who are fascinated by engineering but want to apply their skills far outside of urban centers, a career in agricultural engineering may be just the ticket. Veterans with experience working mechanical and electrical equipment, pumps, and power systems, may do well in this career.

Agricultural engineers look for ways to improve farming efficiency and safety. This can involve a number of elements, from power generation, to improving machinery, flood control and irrigations systems, as well as facilities for equipment, livestock, and produce. Those who want to enter this career will need a bachelor's degree.

Agricultural Inspectors

For veterans who served active duty as agriculture inspectors, this could be a good career choice. The location may be different, but the work is similar and veterans who have held this position are likely to have an advantage in the market.

Agricultural inspectors sample, test, and analyze food and produce. They perform inspections at various points in the production chain, which can include both in the field or in transit but are most often in processing and warehouse facilities. This position is open to high school graduates.

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