|What does an agricultural food scientist do?
How can farms use less labor? Control pests and weeds? Conserve
soil and water? Do all of the above, yet still grow more food?
Agricultural and food scientists look for the answers to these
kinds of questions. They solve problems in agriculture and food
production. Agricultural and food scientists study farm crops
and animals. They use the principles of biology, chemistry, and
other sciences. They find new ways of making crops into food.
Food scientists and technologists work in the food processing
industry. Some work in universities and some work in government.
They try to create food products that are healthful, safe, tasty,
and easy to use. They find better ways to preserve, process, package,
store, and deliver foods. Some food scientists discover new foods.
Others analyze foods to see how much fat, sugar, or protein is
in them. Others search for better food additives.
Plant scientists study plants. They specialize in agronomy, which
is a branch of science that deals with the production of field
crops. Some work in plant breeding. Others work in entomology
(the study of insects). Agronomists and crop scientists help farmers
grow more food. They look for ways to improve the nutrition in
foods. They also work on making better seeds.
Soil scientists study what is in soils. They study how soils
help plants grow. They see how things like fertilizer can improve
soils. Many soil scientists conduct soil surveys. They classify
and map soils. Some provide information and advice to farmers.
They help farmers make the best use of their land.
Animal scientists work to develop better ways of making meat,
poultry, eggs, and milk. Some animal scientists inspect and grade
food products. Animal scientists also work as extension agents
or consultants. They advise farmers and ranchers on how to best
Some agricultural scientists work regular hours in offices. Some
work in labs. Food scientists may work in test kitchens. Animal
scientists may spend part of their time outdoors. Soil and crop
scientists also spend time outdoors. They might do work at farms
or agricultural research stations. Entomologists work in laboratories.
They also may spend time studying bugs outdoors.
|How do you get ready to be an agricultural food scientist?
A bachelor's degree in agricultural science is all that is needed
for some jobs. But a master's or doctoral degree is required to
do basic research. A Ph.D. in agricultural science is needed for
All States have a land-grant college that offers agricultural
science degrees. Many other colleges and universities also offer
agricultural science degrees or some agricultural science courses.
Students who want to work as animal scientists might study animal
breeding, reproductive physiology, nutrition and meats, and muscle
biology in college.
Students preparing for food-scientist careers should take college
courses in food chemistry, food analysis, and food microbiology.
Studying food engineering and food processing operations is also
Those studying to be crop or soil scientists might take courses
in plant pathology, soil chemistry, and entomology. Plant physiology
and biochemistry, among others, are also of value.
Most agricultural and food scientists also need a basic understanding
of business. Being able to use basic statistical techniques is
also a plus. More employers want to hire workers with computer
|How much does this job pay?
The middle 50 percent of agricultural and food scientists earned
between $35,770 and $65,990 in 2002. The lowest-paid 10 percent
earned less than $28,750. The highest-paid 10 percent earned more
Agricultural and food scientists held about 18,000 jobs in 2002.
Also, several thousand persons taught agricultural science in
colleges and universities.
Almost 4 in 10 agricultural and food scientists worked for the
government. Some worked for agricultural service companies. Others
worked for commercial laboratories, seed companies, and pharmaceutical
companies. Some worked for wholesalers and food products companies.
The number of people employed as agricultural and food scientists
is expected to grow more slowly than the average for all occupations
through 2012. This is because there won't be much growth in government,
where many of these workers are employed.
Employment of agricultural and food scientists is fairly stable
during difficult economic times. Compared with other occupations,
layoffs are less likely among agricultural and food scientists.
This is true because food is a necessary item. The demand for
food changes very little with economic activity. People buy roughly
the same amount of food in good times and bad.
|Are there other jobs like this?
- Agricultural managers
- Biological scientists
- Conservation scientists and foresters
|Where can you find more information?
More information about agricultural and food scientists can be
found in the Careers Database.
See Also Food
Science Programs and Colleges and Universities
Occupational Outlook Handbook -- U.S. Department of Labor Bureau
of Labor Statistics