An agricultural technician assists in agriculture and food science to ensure food quality and agricultural products. They can perform a wide range of duties depending on the specific field they choose to make their specialization. These duties can vary from working in a laboratory performing and recording tests, to performing more agricultural duties.
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How to Become an Agricultural Technician
An agricultural technician usually starts their educational path with an associate’s degree in a life science such as biology, chemistry, animal science or crop science. A high schooler planning to go into this field will want to focus on taking a heavy course load of math and science classes. From there some jobs will require a bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry, animal science, crop science, or agricultural engineering. You will also gain on-the-job training to ensure that federal regulations are met. These trainings may depend on the specific area of work and cover subject matter such as sanitation, hygiene, and production procedures.
According to O*NET OnLine, a almost 20% of those technicians surveyed held an associate’s degree, almost 30% held a bachelor’s degree, and a little over 32% had attained a master’s degree. Certain school programs also provide internships or cooperative programs to improve employment opportunities. There are also technician jobs that allow a high school diploma, but these positions generally require you to have at least one year of on-the-job training.
Free Agriculture Online Course
Wageningen University and Research offers a free Sustainable Food Security: The Value of Systems Thinking course on EdX.org (opens in a new tab) with the option to pay a small fee receive a verified certificate upon completion of the course.
By taking this course, you’ll learn:
- The concept of environmental sustainability and identify the main issues associated with food production.
- The basics of systems thinking and understand how the different aspects of a system influence one another and how a system itself is affected by its context.
- The relevance of crop and livestock productivity for environmental sustainability.
- The environmental indicators and how to measure the environmental impact of food production at farm, village or regional level
- Decision-making and life cycle assessment.
- Helpful tools and their strong and weak points.
Job Description of an Agricultural Technician
An agricultural technician assists scientists in agriculture and food science to test food quality and agricultural products. There are several specific fields to go into, so the duties will vary depending on the area of the job’s specialization. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that these areas can include, “animal health, farm machinery, fertilizers, agricultural chemicals, or processing technology.” They prepare and perform various tests on crop or animal samples to test for signs of disease or other issues and then write out reports.
Agricultural Technicians who work with plants and planting processes perform tests on seeds to evaluate seed viability. They collect and germinate seeds, maintain plant cuttings, and control environmental conditions. Agricultural Technicians transplant trees, vegetables, or other plants. They determine the rate that a plant germinates from seed planted in certain areas.
These technicians can find themselves performing a range of duties, from maintaining and operating farm machinery to helping in the harvesting of crops. They could also oversee pest and weed control by choosing the best chemicals, determining the methods and schedule of the application of these chemicals. This job is performed in a variety of locations such as a farm, processing plant, laboratory, or an office. An agricultural technician job is best fitted for a person that is detail-oriented and analytical with their thought process. This job also requires a professional to be dependable and ethical.
Agricultural Technician Career Video Transcript
Advances in food and agriculture science are designed to bring healthier conditions and better production value for crops and farm animals and result in new—or better food on our tables. Agricultural and food science technicians help scientists in these fields to conduct research, run lab tests, and keep records. Their specific duties differ:
Agricultural technicians study ways to increase the productivity of crops and animals. They operate laboratory equipment and collect crop or animal samples to test them for disease or to confirm scientific experiments. They also perform agricultural labor with added record-keeping duties. Food science technicians investigate new processing techniques. They inspect foodstuffs, chemicals, and additives, compile and analyze test results, and prepare presentations to share research findings.
Agricultural and food science technicians work in laboratories, processing plants, farms and ranches, greenhouses, and offices. Workers may be exposed to loud noise, extreme temperatures, and odors from chemicals or animals. They are often physically active throughout the day. Agricultural and food science technicians typically work standard full-time schedules. Some positions require travel. Agricultural and food science technicians typically need an associate’s degree in biology, chemistry, crop or animal science, or a related field. However, requirements may vary from a high school diploma and related work experience to a bachelor’s degree.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Agricultural and Food Science Technicians.
National Center for O*NET Development. 19-4011.01. O*NET OnLine.
The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.