If you love farming and want to learn how technology can help improve yields, better land use and conserve resources, a career as an agricultural engineer could be something to consider. You will have the opportunity evaluate agricultural operations and, based on your findings, will be able to come up with strategies and methods that safeguard the health and security of the various aspects of the agricultural industry, starting from the workers to the agricultural flock and to agricultural products.
You will have the chance to design and test agricultural machinery and equipment and food processing plants and animal housing as well. In addition, the role will allow you to use smart technologies such as sensors, computers and artificial intelligence to improve food and feed sustainability and efficiency.
A genuine passion for the soil, livestock and food production is necessary if you want to be an agricultural engineer. In addition, analytical and problem-solving skills are also important as you will be designing and addressing troubles in systems that would affect the workers, machines and the environment.
Why Become An Agricultural Engineer
A career as an agricultural engineer is not for everybody. If you truly have the dedication to make farming and food supply sustainable through the use of technology then you will find satisfaction in this profession. The federal government also needs agricultural engineers so if you want to find a secure job with the public sector then this is the route to take. It also pays well.
Agricultural Engineer Work Environment
Agricultural engineers spend an equal amount of time indoors and outdoors. Travel is involved when they are tasked to visit agricultural settings to check equipment and machinery. Some agricultural engineers work on the site of a project that they are handling, such as in an environmental reclamation site.
Others work in laboratories while still others impart their knowledge to students in classroom settings. Most agricultural engineers work fulltime with occasional overtime required. They must also be ready anytime they are called to address problems related to projects and equipment they are handling.
Agricultural Engineer Salary
The Occupational Employment and Wages report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the annual mean wage of agricultural engineers is $78,880 or a median hourly wage of $35.79. Based on their May 2012 data, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also revealed that agricultural engineers who worked in the architectural, engineering and related services industries received the highest pay at $82,090.
Those working in the federal government followed with $77,030. Meanwhile, those connected with the educational services industry received $50,100.
Agricultural Engineer Career Outlook
The employment outlook of agricultural engineers is slow, with the field only projected to grow 5 percent in the ten-year period from 2012 to 2022. This growth rate is slower than the average for all jobs.
New opportunities are in the offing for agricultural engineers who delve in areas where advanced technologies are applied to the development of alternative energies, enhancement of agricultural products and better management of water resources.
Agricultural Engineer Degree
A bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering or biological engineering is required for those seeking entry-level jobs as an agricultural engineer. These are usually four-year programs that combine classroom instruction with laboratory and field experiences. Agricultural engineers who intend to provide their services to the public must be licensed as PEs or professional engineers. The process for obtaining this license is lengthy.
After obtaining their bachelor’s degree from engineering program accredited by the ABET, agricultural engineers can take the initial exam on Fundamentals of Engineering. When they pass this, they become engineers in training. They will then need to get relevant work experience for about four years before they can take the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam. They will only be licensed by the state after passing this test.