An agricultural engineer’s primary goal is to improve and resolve agriculture problems. They look at pollution and environmental issues, machine efficiency, agricultural processing, and the storage of agricultural products. They are often present at farms to monitor installations of new systems and note crop outcomes and growth locations.
Watch a video to learn what an agricultural engineer does:
How to Become an Agricultural Engineer
An agricultural engineer requires a bachelor’s degree in biological engineering or agricultural engineering. Coursework includes mathematics, engineering principles, and science components. According to O*NET Online, a little over 12% of agricultural engineers went back to school to gain a master’s degree or Post-baccalaureate certificate. Some colleges and universities may offer practical experience in projects or internships. Examples include engineering competitions where students problem-solve or design equipment. Internships may vary and can include working for a local agricultural company assisting with the maintenance of equipment, working on a farm, or helping with an irrigation design.
It would be advantageous for a high school student that desires this career field to take courses in the sciences and math in order to be better prepared for universities who require advanced courses. Agricultural engineers are required to obtain licensing from the state the reside in. Most states follow the licensing requirements set by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). Check your state’s regulations. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a paid internship program for high school and college students. You can check out their Student Employment Opportunities page (link opens in a new tab) for more information.
Job Description of an Agricultural Engineer
An agricultural engineer works on a variety of projects like forestry, seafood farming (aquaculture), food processing, and farming. They may work to increase refrigeration efficiency and storage capacity.They also develop control systems to improve the comfort and productivity of livestock. Animal waste disposal is another area that an agricultural engineer works in. He or she may have the job of improving efficiency in fertilizer application. They automate harvesting systems into agricultural areas by using computer programming skills with artificial intelligence and geospatial systems.
Agricultural engineers test equipment for reliability and safety and look to modify factors in environments that affect crop or animal production. They work in cooperation with other engineers, consultants, clients, and contractors. An agricultural engineer should have skills in communication, math, problem solving, and analytical skills. Agricultural engineers are often employed by consulting services, federal government agencies, or engineering companies. Some work with agricultural machinery manufacturers as well.
Agricultural Career Resources
The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (link opens in a new tab) offers featured educational stories on conservation through engineering. This helps you keep up to date on current events through an agricultural engineer’s lens.
Agricultural Engineer Career Video Transcript
Reducing pollution in a farm’s water supply, improving the efficiency of a rural electric power system, discovering a new way to extend the life of a tomato, these are some of the projects an agricultural engineer might work on in the quest to make agricultural operations as efficient and productive as possible. Most agricultural engineers work in offices, with frequent research visits to farms, labs, or rural areas. They work for government offices, engineering firms, universities, and manufacturers. The ultimate goal for these engineers is to improve crop and livestock production. This career focuses on the design and manufacture of the equipment and facilities needed to reach that goal.
Agricultural engineers examine the impact of plant and food production on the greater environment, and look for ways to reduce negative impacts. Sometimes they even make news headlines with breakthroughs on production techniques, such as genetic engineering and cloning. Agricultural engineers need an aptitude for science and technology, along with good oral and written communication skills. They rely heavily on their ability to recognize and solve problems. A bachelor’s degree in agricultural or biological engineering is the entry-level education needed. As the world population continues to expand, the need for the work of agricultural engineers will only continue to grow.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Agricultural Engineers.
National Center for O*NET Development. 17-2021.00. O*NET OnLine.
The video is Public Domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.