Job description

Agricultural technicians assist scientists with experiments to increase the health and productivity of crops and agricultural animals. They may cultivate crops within specific parameters, measure and distribute animal feed, and collect samples for testing. Agricultural technicians keep detailed records, analyse test results and present findings to senior scientific staff.

Duties

    • Set up laboratory or field equipment necessary for on-site testing
    • Collect and germinate seeds, and cultivate plant cuttings under specific laboratory conditions
    • Supervise and train agricultural staff in proper scientific procedures
    • Participate in crop production, including tilling, weeding and harvest, within specified parameters
    • Conduct studies on fertiliser application, pest control, plant disease and other related issues
    • Measure ingredients and distribute feed to agricultural animals
    • Inspect animals and plants for signs of injury or disease
    • Collect animal or crop samples for analysis and testing, following proper safety and storage protocols
    • Operate a range of lab equipment, including spectrometers, air samplers and centrifuges
    • Operate farm equipment, including tractors, ploughs, combines and sprayers
    • Record and analyse all data
    • Create reports, charts and other materials to present data and test results to senior scientific staff

Skills, qualities and knowledge

Scientific software
Lab and farm equipment
Biology and chemistry
Mathematics
Reading comprehension
Active listening
Critical thinking
Writing
Attention to detail
Teamwork
Communication
Problem-solving
Patience
Physical fitness

Working hours and environment

Average working hours

40hweek

Typical schedule

Full Time

May include weekend hours

Most agricultural technicians have a set full-time schedule, though your rotation may include hours on the weekend. Some technicians work largely indoors in laboratories, processing plants and offices. Others may travel and spend a significant time outdoors on farms or ranches.

Duties vary according to the specific technician role. You may have to deal with loud machinery noise, extreme temperatures and animal or chemical odours. Some agricultural technician jobs may also require sufficient physical strength and stamina to complete farm or ranch work.

Salary

Bottom 10%

$27k

Median

$41k

Top 10%

$64k

Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.

Qualifications and training

Education level

Undergraduate

DVM / VMD degree

Study time

2years

Most agricultural technicians have an associate's or bachelor's degree in biology, crop or animal science, or a related field. Those interested in the field should focus their high school studies on maths and science classes when possible. Agricultural workers with a high school diploma may use their relevant experience to get an entry-level position.

Students at all levels can take advantage of cooperative programmes to gain work experience. This includes internships and other career pathways through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

All agricultural technicians will receive on-the-job training for their specific role. This includes health and safety training specified by federal regulations.

Job outlook

Projected growth
The projected growth rate of employment in the US from 2016 to 2026, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme. The national average growth rate for all professions is 7%.

6%

No of new jobs
The number of jobs projected to become available in the US between 2016 and 2026, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme.

1.7k

Automation risk
The probability of computerisation, based on data published in ‘The Future of Employment’, a 2013 working paper by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne.

97%

Career progression

Agricultural technicians who earn their bachelor's degree will have access to more lucrative positions. Gaining experience in lab and field work can lead to a variety of other related careers, including agricultural scientist, ranch or farm manager, and agricultural engineers.