Gone are the days when careers in agriculture only meant toiling under the sun while waiting for your crops to grow. Nowadays, the field has advanced in so many ways that numerous opportunities have sprouted over time, giving young people plenty of options to pick from.
But don’t take our (terrible play on) word for it!
In the US alone, over 50,000 jobs in agriculture are available per year; only there aren’t enough qualified graduates to fill the vacancies. Interestingly enough, the UK also seems to be experiencing similar problems with labour shortage, as their horticultural sectors continually struggle to find new workers year after year.
Indeed, there’s no better time to start your career in agriculture. But if you’re still having second thoughts, then we hope this list will help you make up your mind.
Here are the top 10 most in-demand and highest-paying agriculture careers.
10. Agricultural Operations Manager
Not to be confused with farm managers, agricultural operations managers are typically in charge of maintaining processes in huge agribusinesses such as grain manufacturing and mills. Apart from ensuring that day-to-day operations run smoothly, they’re also tasked with overseeing inventory and leading staff.
Average annual salary: $61,080 (£46,950)
9. Animal Geneticist
Nope. Animal geneticists aren’t responsible for creating the Indominus Rex (a writer did that!), but they are responsible for discovering what makes animals weak and what keeps them strong. By studying their genetic makeup, animal geneticists can crossbreed different species to create a new breed (or hybrid) of animals that are much more resilient since they’re a combination of the most desirable characteristics found in the species they were made from.
If you’re interested in taking steps towards preventing genetic disorders and increasing endangered animals’ chance for survival, this could be the perfect career path for you.
Average annual salary: $68,840 (£52,920)
8. Food Scientist
If you’ve ever wondered who’s responsible for creating the nutritional information printed on the back of your pack of chips, well, you’ve guessed it: it’s food scientists. And they didn’t put it there to make you feel bad about the number of calories you just ate; food scientists gather this information to ensure safety and to determine how long processed items can be preserved. They normally work with other scientists to make sure that the food produced in the agricultural sector is safe for consumption.
If you’re the type who wants to know what exactly they’re putting in their bodies, then this may sound like a dream job for you.
Average annual salary: $71,990 (£55,340)
7. Agricultural Engineer
If you’re fascinated with the film Transformers, and you enjoy the idea of machines helping humans, then you might want to be to be an agricultural engineer. Apart from designing agricultural equipment and machinery, engineers also test them out to ensure that they work properly and that they were made within government regulations. But it’s not all fun and games: agricultural engineers usually work overtime as most manufacturers require their help even on weekends.
Average annual salary: $74,480 (£57,260)
6. Agronomy Sales Manager
One of the main drivers of the agricultural industry is agronomy sales managers. These professionals are responsible for training the team that will travel to different places to educate farmers on how to care for their land and crops properly. At the same time, they also promote and sell their products which are normally seeds, soil and fertilisers.
If you love agriculture and you're blessed with the gift of killer selling skills, then this is a good option for you.
Average annual salary: $76,470 (£58,790)
5. Bioinformatics Scientist
Plant and animal life is widely diverse, which is why gathering and updating information on all of them is incredibly difficult – and that’s where bioinformatics scientists come in.
With the help of technology and computer science, bioinformatics scientists can develop a more effective way of understanding biodiversity. Through automated data mining and integration, other scientists can process data much quicker and easier; this is especially useful in the field of crop or plant genetics which is vital to the agricultural industry.
Average annual salary: $80,200 (£61,660)
4. Environmental Engineer
There would be nothing to harvest if the conditions for planting and growing are poor; that’s why the work of environmental engineers is so important to agriculture. By combining principles from different science fields, environmental engineers create systems that aim to prevent future damages like soil erosion, deforestation and pollution.
If you’d like to help farm owners and the environment at the same time, this job could be the one for you.
Average annual salary: $86,800 (£66,730)
Biochemists study and analyse different living organisms to look for new ways to improve human lives. In the field of agriculture, their work primarily involves developing new crops that are more resistant against natural elements like drought, storms or even insect infestations. Their work is important now more than ever, especially with the unpredictable effects of climate change and global warming.
If you want to make sure that future generations enjoy the simple pleasures of warm cooked rice, then be sure to check this job out.
Average annual salary: $91,190 (£70,100)
2. Agricultural Economist
To work as an agricultural economist, you must be prepared to wear different hats. Not only do they work as researchers and market analysts, but they’re also business advisors, consultants and land appraisers. They deal with anything and everything that has to do with the agricultural market, from developing forecasts and advising their clients to determining the price of land and predicting which crops to grow. Due to the magnitude of their work, it’s no wonder why they’re paid the big bucks.
If you have excellent multitasking skills and like variety in your work, then it doesn’t get any more diverse than this.
Average annual salary: $104,920 (£80,660)
1. Agricultural Lawyer
Agricultural lawyers are responsible for mitigating disputes on land while making sure that all government regulations are adhered to. Since there are many regulations surrounding property, agricultural lawyers sometimes also have to deal with issues concerning agricultural infrastructure, insurance and intellectual property. They also handle cases that involve labour laws, environmental protection and proper land use.
Although their jobs can be stressful, they’re compensated quite well. So, if you like protecting the environment and fighting for people’s rights, then this could be a great job for you. (And with so many people fighting over land every day, you’re sure to never run out of clients!)
Average annual salary: $115,820 (£89,040)
For too long a time, agriculture has been unfairly pigeonholed as a backwards industry that doesn’t offer great career options. However, recent statistics say otherwise. Not only do careers in agriculture offer tremendous opportunities for career growth, some of them are financially rewarding, too.
So, if you want a stable career that will make a difference for generations to come, get a job in agriculture.
Are you thinking about pursuing a career in agriculture? Which do you think will be a good fit? Let us know in the comments section below.
Salary information is based on data compiled and published by a variety of sources, including the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook, PayScale and Glassdoor. All currency conversions were based on rates supplied by XE.com on 30 August 2018.