Growing up on a farm does a few things to you. You eat fresh grown vegetables, drive tractors, watch sunsets over the acreage, and don flannel on the regular. However, only about 10% of Americans are actual farmers*.
Believe it or not, there are more than 200 careers other than farming in the agriculture field: food science, purchasing, horticulture, and landscaping to name a few*. With such a large array of options, the job growth is varied. Some careers, such as food science, are increasing around 8%, while others, like farming, are seeing little to no jumps.
The increasing population is giving the agriculture business more mouths to feed. Some people hold doors open or volunteer their time. But you want to feed the people, and you are ready to work hard to do it. And if it all works out, a career in agriculture gives you permission to listen to all the country music you want with nobody to judge.
Whether you want to run the family farm or improve the state of world food production, an agriculture degree will guide you. While students can certainly pursue a traditional Bachelor of Science in agriculture, the diversification of the discipline means a range of possibilities for modern undergrads. Kansas State University, for instance, offers programs in agribusiness, agricultural communications and journalism, agricultural economics, agricultural education, agricultural technology management, agronomy, animal sciences and industry, bakery science and management, feed science and management, food science and industry, horticulture, milling science and management, park management and conservation, pre-veterinary medicine, and wildlife and outdoor enterprise management. Can’t decide on a major? Many universities encourage students to take general education and core agriculture classes during the first two years before settling on a specialty. It will take about 120 degree credits to earn a BS, but future prospects make it time well spent. Within six months of graduation, 98 percent of degree recipients from Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences had a job, enrolled in grad school, or joined the military.
If you’re interested in research such as genetics, the effect of dietary changes on animals, or improving water quality, look into a Master of Science degree. Requirements typically include a thesis and a final oral exam. Rather perfect your problem-solving and management skills? A Master of Agriculture (M.Agr.) degree might be your best bet. At some schools, the business and the agriculture departments combine to offer a Master of Agribusiness (MAB).
Roll up your sleeves. Universities continue to emphasize hands-on training in the agriculture department. It gives students the chance to apply what they learn to real-world situations, and future employers take notice. For example, a capstone course at Iowa State University places seniors in charge of running the university’s diversified grain and livestock farm. Though students choose the committee on which they wish to work— such as building and grounds, crops, public relations, machinery, or finance— they quickly discover the need for collaboration to make the farm a success. You’ll have plenty of great stories to tell hiring managers about your role in managing 1,400 acres of crop land and 1,650 hogs!