Careers in Sustainable Agriculture: Be a Farmer!
By Giana / August 17, 2016
A career in sustainable agricultural can mean plenty of job opportunities, high salary growth, and a chance to address pressing global challenges.
With rising public interest in healthy, sustainable food production, greater national attention is turning toward the management, cultivation, and distribution of our food resources. A generation ago, we were content to feed our families on shelf-stable processed foods. Now, we’re tuning in to where our food comes from and how it’s produced. At every point along the chain from farm to table, we are paying much more attention. From processing and transportation to our options at restaurants and grocery stores, elements such as sustainability and organic farming are already a big deal. As a result, new positions in the agricultural field are on the rise. Are you interested in being part of the sustainable farming and food production industry? If so, here are a few things to keep in mind.
A degree in agriculture will open plenty of doors.
According to the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, about 57,900 highly skilled positions open in this field annually. Highly-skilled positions typically require a college education. However, only about 35,400 students graduate with a bachelors or masters in agriculture each year. This means ample open positions with high (and growing) salaries for degree holders in this area. And as sustainability challenges become more pressing, a career in this field can provide a chance to make a real difference in the world.
Agricultural careers vary widely.
If you think “farmer” is the only career option for an agriculture student, think again. Experts suggest that the strongest marketplace opportunities now exist for plant scientists, sustainable biomaterials specialists, water resource engineers, farm animal veterinarians, ecosystem managers, ag-science educators, and pest control specialists. But there are thousands of career paths available for those majoring in any of the biological sciences, from animal nutrition to golf course management to soil science.
Maintain an active network.
As you choose your degree field or career path, keep your options open by building and maintaining a strong network of contacts. Every time you meet someone new—especially someone with an established career in your chosen field—maintain communication with that person and be willing to turn to them for help and advice.
Find an internship.
Since many agricultural career paths involve a hands-on element, you’ll want to gain practical experience—as much as possible, as soon as possible. Internships can help you get your hands dirty and get some valuable experience under your belt. Go online or turn to your contacts to find out about internships available in your area and your field of interest.
Look for agricultural-specific job sites.
Look for job boards and career management sites that relate specifically to the agriculture and life science marketplace. You may find full- or part-time agricultural positions that don’t require a degree. These positions can open the door to experience-based opportunities down the road. Plenty of farms and production facilities need both skilled and unskilled hands, especially during the spring, summer and fall.
Learn more about careers in sustainable agriculture and start building a winning resume. The job search tools available at LiveCareer can help you get started.