For college-age students, pursuing a degree in agriculture and related fields can be beneficial for a number of reasons. Recent research has shown that between 2010 and 2015, there is a predicted growth of around 54,400 jobs in the agriculture industry. As the technology and scientific practices in agriculture become more advanced, both small operations and larger corporations will be looking to fill these jobs with qualified students that have obtained a degree in a related field. In today’s competitive market, it may not be enough to simply have background in the subject, and a professional degree can bring young people interested in agriculture to the next level.
Across the United States, many reputable public and private universities offer programs in agriculture and life sciences. Majors can include soil science, plant biology, agribusiness, environmental studies, crop science, natural resource economics, horticulture and other disciplines within the field. Many universities with agriculture programs also house the state’s cooperative extension and can offer students practical fieldwork in greenhouses or on open land from public land grants.
For example, Cornell University offers an Agricultural Sciences major with concentrations in Crop Production and Management, Animal Science, and various other specialties. Students can do research or intern at the Cornell Cooperative Extension to gain real-world experience and insight into the jobs that they may hold in the future. Cornell is home to a Rimol greenhouse that allows students and faculty to complete research year-round and study plants in a hands-on setting.
This is just one of the many higher education programs across the country offering opportunities to study agriculture under professional researchers and instructors, who can serve as powerful networking contacts during a later job search. There are numerous options available for young students looking to choose the program that best fits their needs and career goals.
Pursuing an agriculture degree may also lead students to jobs in a field other than traditional farming or crop production. The industry is in need of agriculture experts who have a speciality in sales, communications, education, information technology and other professional skills. Most colleges with agriculture programs offer concentrations or combined degree programs to prepare students for such careers. In recent years, a limited number of candidates have qualified for these jobs, creating a great niche for those interested in plant biology or environmental science but who would prefer more of an office-based work setting.
By pursuing a degree in an agriculture specialty, young adults can enter the field with a more advanced knowledge of growing techniques and practical sciences. This will eventually help the industry develop more efficient and sustainable techniques for the future of agriculture.