Agricultural and Food Scientists: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

Education Required
Every state has at least one land-grant college that offers agricultural science degrees. Many other colleges and universities also offer agricultural science degrees or related courses. Degrees in related sciences, such as biology, chemistry, and physics, or in a related engineering specialty also may qualify people for many agricultural science jobs.
Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: 7% (As fast as average)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
Licenses/Certifications
Some states require soil scientists to be licensed to practice. Licensing requirements vary by state, but generally include holding a bachelor’s degree with a certain number of credit hours in soil science, working under a licensed scientist for a certain number of years, and passing an exam.
Median pay: How much do Agricultural and Food Scientists make?
$62,920 Annual Salary
$30.25 per hour

Agricultural and food scientists research ways to improve the efficiency and safety of agricultural establishments and products.

What do Agricultural and Food Scientists do?

Agricultural and food scientists typically do the following:

  • Conduct research and experiments to improve the productivity and sustainability of field crops and farm animals
  • Create new food products and develop new and better ways to process, package, and deliver them
  • Study the composition of soil as it relates to plant growth, and research ways to improve it
  • Communicate research findings to the scientific community, food producers, and the public
  • Travel between facilities to oversee the implementation of new projects

Agricultural and food scientists play an important role in maintaining and expanding the nation’s food supply. Many work in basic or applied research and development. Basic research seeks to understand the biological and chemical processes by which crops and livestock grow. Applied research seeks to discover ways to improve the quality, quantity, and safety of agricultural products.

Many agricultural and food scientists work with little supervision, forming their own hypotheses and developing their research methods. In addition, they often lead teams of technicians or students who help in their research. Agricultural and food scientists who are employed in private industry may need to travel between different worksites.

The following are types of agricultural and food scientists:

Careers for Agricultural and Food Scientists

  • Agricultural scientists
  • Agriculturists
  • Agronomists
  • Animal geneticists
  • Animal nutritionists
  • Animal scientists
  • Arboreal scientists
  • Beef cattle nutritionists
  • Crop nutrition scientists
  • Dairy bacteriologists
  • Dairy scientists
  • Enologists
  • Floriculturists
  • Food preservation scientists
  • Food processing scientists
  • Food safety scientists
  • Food scientists
  • Food scientists and technologists
  • Food technologists
  • Horticulturists
  • Plant physiologists
  • Plant scientists
  • Pomologists
  • Poultry scientists
  • Soil fertility extension specialists
  • Soil scientists
  • Swine genetics researchers
  • Viticulturists

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