When it comes to practical degrees, an agriculture degree might not be the first to come to mind. But if you have an interest in the green industry, getting a degree in agriculture could open up a variety of practical job opportunities that you could enjoy. Depending on what you study while getting the degree, these jobs could range from agribusiness and government jobs to teaching or working in horticulture or food science.
Wide Range of Jobs
You may not immediately think of business when you think of agriculture, but a degree can prepare you to work in many business related aspects of agriculture. These agriculture related business jobs might include policy analysis, risk management for insurance companies that work with farms or accounting. You could also end up working directly in food science or technology as a salesperson, an inspector or a researcher. Some farmers and ranchers work for company-owned farms, managing livestock or farm production.
Some graduates of agriculture end up working for the government, usually with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. You could end up an inspector or work for an agency that helps to analyze agriculture policy. If you have an interest in conservation, you might end up working for the USDA in a state or national park setting. Botanical gardens, plant nurseries or landscaping companies might be other avenues of possible jobs for agriculture graduates. Yet another possible career path could be teaching. Students can choose from a variety of concentrations when they study agriculture at a university, and all of those concentrations require teachers with specialized knowledge. In order to teach at the college level, you would need to go on for graduate level work in the field, but other teaching possibilities could come at the primary or secondary school levels or even through farm bureaus.
Range of Study
Given the wide range of career opportunities for those who study agriculture, it’s not surprising that the coursework for the degree can also vary widely. Much depends on whether you decide to specialize in a certain area, such as sustainable agriculture, animal science or crop production. Agricultural engineering in another possible area of study.
Your coursework for a degree may also vary if you decide to take courses that can supplement your agriculture studies and make you more ready to take on certain types of jobs. For example, if you’re interested in pursuing work in food science, it’s probably a good idea to take chemistry and biology courses, while a minor in business may help open doors for work in horticulture or conservation. While specializations vary, there are generally some core courses that most agriculture majors take. Some of these include botany, horticulture, animal science, sustainable agriculture, ecology, soil and crop science and genetics.
If you think you might be headed toward work in agriculture, it can be a good idea to explore internships and volunteer opportunities that will help you learn more about the field. Working for a plant nursery or farm or joining a 4-H or FFA chapter are some possibilities. If you decide to pursue an agriculture degree, there are plenty of career paths you can take once you’ve completed it.