In this article, we profile the top 10 online agriculture associate’s degree programs of 2021.
To become an agricultural technician and assist food scientists in laboratories or other settings, one must earn an agriculture degree. For entry-level positions, an associate’s degree is required. Since employers value work experience and training, earning a degree while working can be useful. Thankfully, online agriculture associate’s degree programs are available from accredited and affordable colleges and universities.
10 Online Agriculture Associate’s Degree Programs Methodology
We reviewed approximately 40 colleges and universities that offered online agricultural degrees. Our focus was on online agriculture associate’s degree programs. Selection criteria was based on accreditation and raw affordability. We gathered information from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES College Navigator) and verified accreditation on the school’s website. We then selected programs that cost less than $16,500 per year and ranked them according to raw affordability.
Below is our list of the top 10 online agriculture associate’s degree programs of 2021.
#10 – University of Massachusetts
Online Associate’s in Sustainable Food and Farming
Undergraduate Tuition: $16,389
At the University of Massachusetts Stockbridge School of Agriculture, students may earn an online agriculture degree. The Stockbridge School now offers a fully online associate’s in sustainable food and farming. This agriculture degree online program is designed for those interested in gaining the preparation needed for bachelor’s in agriculture and food science programs. Though the program is at the associate level, classes are taught by university professors. Courses cover unique agriculture and farming topics like introduction to food and ag law, introduction to mushroom culture, and practical beekeeping. In addition to offering quality ag programs, UMass Amherst ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 66th best national university.
#9 – Utah State University
Online Associate’s in Agricultural Science
Undergraduate Tuition: $8,402
Utah State University offers an accredited online agriculture associate’s degree that combines research and new technology that prepares students with a strong foundation in the world of agriculture. As a graduate of Utah State’s online program, you are able to start your career in agriculture or pursue a four-year degree. The program consists of 60 credits and offers two early start dates. Curriculum is delivered 100% online and classes are taught by Utah State’s esteemed faculty. Utah State is a top-ranked national university. In fact, the school ranks #241 in best national universities by U.S. News and World Report. Also, several of the school’s online programs have received top rankings, including the online bachelor’s programs (ranked 23 out of more than 1,200 programs).
#8 – Northwest Iowa Community College
Online Associate’s in Agriculture
Undergraduate Tuition: $6,240
For those interested in pursuing an agriculture associate’s degree online, Northwest Iowa Community College has affordable options. The online AAS degree in agriculture provides students the opportunity to pursue employment in a number of agricultural careers. Graduates of the program have gone on to work in ag sales, farm management, production, and supplies and service. The agriculture degree online program at Northwest Iowa offers a wide array of classes taught by the school’s qualified instructors. These courses cover topics like ag law, agricultural finance, farm business management, fundamentals of soil science, and survey of the animal industry. Benefits of attending Northwest Iowa Community College include small class sizes (student to faculty ratio of 13 to 1) and a post-graduation job placement rate of nearly 100 percent.
#7 – Southwestern Community College
Online Associate’s in Agricultural Business
Undergraduate Tuition: $6,112
The online agriculture degree at Southwestern Community College combines business courses with agricultural science. The program is designed to provide future workers in agriculture with specialized training in ag business. The associate’s degree in agriculture is meant to transfer to a four-year college or university. Classes are delivered online and cover a variety of ag and business topics. These courses include agricultural selling, introduction to crop science, introduction to agriculture markets, and principles of horticulture. Students must complete 68 credits and maintain a GPA of 2.0 to be awarded the AAS degree in agricultural business.
#6 – Lake Area Technical College
Online Associate’s in Agri-Business
Watertown, South Dakota
Undergraduate Tuition: $5,514
Lake Area Technical College’s (LATC) agriculture associate’s degree online program offers an agri-business option for those seeking careers in various areas of business and agriculture. The agri-business e-degree takes 20 months to complete. Lake Area Tech offers one of the quickest completion times for an associate’s in agriculture on our list. Courses cover topics like ag safety, commodity futures and options, crop science, principles of selling, and soil science. There are also several business-related ag classes offered with topics in business law and supervision, and supervised occupational experience. LATC also offers a 99% graduate placement rate, making it one of the top community colleges in the state of South Dakota.
#5 – Umpqua Community College
Online Associate’s in Agricultural Business Management
Undergraduate Tuition: $5,101
Umpqua Community College offers an online agriculture associate’s degree with an emphasis in agricultural business management. The affordable online program prepares students for successful careers in agriculture. Students are taught leadership skills and solid business management practices. The school works closely with Oregon State University to provide a degree partnership program. This means students may dual-enroll at UCC and OSU and take advantage of scholarships and other services offered by the university. For the online associate’s degree in agriculture, courses are taught by experienced faculty. Topics explored include discovering agricultural and resource economics, introduction to business, and management in agriculture.
#4 – Western Iowa Tech Community College
Online Associate’s in Agriculture Business
Sioux City, Iowa
Undergraduate Tuition: $4,368
At Western Iowa Tech Community College, students may earn an online agriculture degree that combines both agriculture and business. To earn the AS in agriculture business, students must complete program requirements. Courses are delivered online and cover topics like ag selling, farm business management, fundamentals of soil science, introduction to agriculture markets, principles of agronomy, and survey of the animal industry. A total of 64 credits must be completed to earn the AS in agriculture business. The program is ideal for students interested in pursuing careers in commodity sales, farm and agri-business management, and retail and wholesale selling. WITCC is fully accredited with the Higher Learning Commission and one of the most affordable institutions on our list.
#3 – Lakeshore Technical College
Online Associate’s in Agribusiness Science and Technology
Undergraduate Tuition: $4,341
The agriculture associate’s degree online program at Lakeshore Technical College consists of 60 credits, which can be completed in four terms. The program is available 100 percent online with classes taught by Lakeshore Tech instructors. The agriculture degree online program is designed to open doors to numerous agribusiness career pathways. Some of the courses offered throughout the program cover topics like agribusiness economics, agricultural finance, legal aspects of agribusiness, and livestock production systems and management. Both full-time and part-time completion pathways are available, adding to the program’s flexibility. Lakeshore is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), one of six regional accrediting bodies authorized by the U.S. Department of Education.
#2 – Casper College
Online Associate’s in General Agriculture
Undergraduate Tuition: $3,834
Casper College’s online agriculture associate’s degree requires no prerequisites for admission and is tailored to align with a wide range of career goals. Students enrolled in the agriculture degree online at Casper take classes taught by the institution’s experienced faculty. Some of the class topics include agriculture economics, animal science, management, marketing, record keeping, and soil science. Since courses are delivered online, you will need access to a computer and proper Internet connection. Courses can be taken from anywhere and offer flexibility while balancing outside obligations, such as work and family. All courses are transferable to four-year institutions. Also, Casper College is fully accredited.
#1 – Northcentral Technical College
Online Associate’s in Crop Science (Agronomy)
Undergraduate Tuition: $3,609
Northcentral Technical College offers the most affordable online agriculture degree program on our list. The online agriculture associate’s degree from NTC emphasizes crop science or agronomy. The 60-credit program provides hands-on learning opportunities that are infused with theoretical principles. Studies cover four major components of crop management, including nutrient management, pest management, soil and crop management, and water management. During the program, students actively participate in the management of 100 acres and complete an internship experience. Courses cover topics like agriculture equipment safety, crop scouting techniques, nutrient management, and principles of crop production. For over 100 years, Northcentral Technical College has been in operation. Today, the school is fully accredited and one of the most affordable institutions offering an online agriculture associate’s degree.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I do with an online agriculture associate’s degree?
An agricultural and food science technician typically holds an associate’s in agriculture or closely related discipline, such as animal science or crop science. While some positions, particularly agricultural engineering jobs, require a bachelor’s degree, an associate’s degree is more the norm for entry-level positions.
In 2019, agricultural and food science technicians held 24,000 jobs in the workforce. As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), food manufacturing employed the largest number of agricultural and food science techs. In fact, this industry employed 32% of all ag and food science technicians. The next largest employer of this occupation is professional, scientific, and technical services. These technicians often work in laboratories and offices. This industry employed approximately 20% of all agricultural and food science technicians. The third largest employer of agricultural technicians is colleges, universities, and professional schools, which employ about 15%. Support activities for agriculture and forestry employs 5% of all ag techs, and crop production employs about 2%.
As an agricultural or food science technician, you could work in a variety of settings. These settings include farms and ranches, greenhouses, laboratories, offices, and processing plants. Ag techs often work full time and adhere to standard employment schedules (Monday through Friday with weekends off). Depending on the job, some travel may be required.
How much money can I earn with an online agriculture associate’s degree?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median annual wage for agricultural and food science technicians was $41,230 as of May 2019. The highest ten percent of earners working in this field made $64,180 per year, while the lowest ten percent earned approximately $28,000.
Marginal changes to salary are impacted by industry and geographic location. However, BLS reports the top three industries for agricultural and food science technicians as follows:
Colleges, universities, and professional schools (state level) paid their ag and food science techs a median annual wage of $42,320. Colleges and universities are the highest-paying industry for these specialized technicians. Next in line for top-paying ag industries is food manufacturing. As listed by BLS, food manufacturing offers median annual wages for agricultural and food science technicians of $41,370. The third highest-paying industry for ag and food science technicians is professional, scientific, and technical services. This field pays a median annual wage of $38,300.
Other occupations and median pay for individuals working in agriculture include:
Agricultural and food scientists: $65,160
Agricultural engineers: $80,720
Agricultural workers: $25,840
Conservation scientists and foresters: $62,410
Most agricultural and food science technicians work full-time and have traditional daytime schedules. However, some technicians may travel extensively on the job, both nationally and internationally.
What is the job outlook for individuals with an online agriculture degree?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports employment of agricultural and food science technicians is projected to grow four percent from 2019 to 2029. This rate is about as fast as the average for all occupations and is considered to be a favorable job outlook. But what will cause the employment growth?
As demand continues for agricultural and food science research, especially in areas like changes in weather patterns and climate, harmful pests, and the impact of population growth, more technicians will be needed. Agricultural science techs are needed to assist scientists working in the field. In fact, projections show an additional 1,000 agricultural technician jobs will be added over the next several years based on the anticipated employment growth.
Food science technicians, also those working in agriculture, help improve food processing techniques, ensure food safety, and provide resources that limit waste. Agricultural science techs will be useful in the study of genetic makeup of livestock, improving diets for both animal and human, and living conditions. Also, technicians will be needed to analyze soil composition, breed crops that are resistant to pathogens and pests, and help improve the taste of food.
Due to the favorable job outlook, those earning a degree in agriculture, such as the online agriculture associate’s degree, should see the best job prospects.
What are the admission requirements for an online agriculture degree program?
Students interested in a career as an agricultural technician may enroll in an online agriculture associate’s degree program. But to better prepare you for admission, students should take as many high school math and science classes as they can. A solid foundation in biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, and statistics is important to doing well in college agriculture courses. Also, for students interested in going beyond the associate’s degree level and earning a bachelor’s in agriculture, having a strong background in math and science helps.
Admission requirements for an online agriculture degree program varies by school and department. However, many of the programs featured on our list require similar criteria. Applicants should maintain a strong academic record in high school, perform well on standardized tests (if required by the institution), and gain a strong foundation in math and science. At some institutions, recommendations from teachers or those who can vouch for the student’s academic strength are required for admission.
Since agriculture degree programs are often hands-on, gaining work experience or on-the-job training through internships can prove to be useful to the success of a student. While work experience and training is not required for admission, they may help better prepare you for both school and the career path. If you are unable to acquire an internship, job shadowing an agriculture technician will also provide valuable experience.
In addition to earning an online agriculture associate’s degree, what other important qualities should I have to work in the field?
While education and training are the most important requirements for a career as an agricultural or food science technician, there are other qualities that can help. Individuals interested in working in agriculture as a technician or scientist should possess strong skills and abilities in a variety of areas. Below are five areas that are important to a successful career in agriculture.
Agricultural technician jobs require accuracy, detail, precision, and strong mathematical skills. Technicians are often required to conduct various observations and take onsite measurements. These tests require strong analytical interpretation and skills.
While strong communication skills are important to any job, they are especially critical to the work of an agricultural or food science technician. When working with teams, ag techs must deliver clear instructions. Additional tasks include maintaining detailed records and writing concise reports.
Critical thinking skills
Having strong critical thinking and interpretive skills is necessary for the work as a successful agricultural technician. As these specialized techs draw conclusions through reasoning and judgment, it is necessary to be able to interpret critically.
Endurance and/or physical stamina
Often, agricultural techs remain on their feet for long periods of time. They may be required to lift heavy equipment and perform physical labor. Having physical stamina helps.
Interpersonal skills are important to the work of an agricultural technician. Effective communication with colleagues and team members is necessary.
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