Going Green

Lucrative Demand for Agricultural Expertise

Average U.S. salaries for those graduating with bachelor’s degrees in agriculture start at $54,364.
February 2018

According to the USDA, growth in the agricultural industry combined with increases in retirements are driving demand for college graduates and professionals to supply ag-related positions — and many feature excellent salaries.

The USDA and Purdue University predict 57,900 jobs requiring ag skills will become available each year between now and 2020, while only 35,000 graduates in food, renewable resources or environment studies will look to fill those jobs each year. In an effort to promote growth in the field, ag companies like Syngenta offer college scholarships to ag students each year, and of course hire many grads in various majors.

The USDA further finds that the average starting salary in the U.S. for those graduating with bachelor’s degrees in agriculture or natural resources was a healthy $54,364 as of winter 2017. High school graduates might consider one of these highest-paying ag occupations:

• C-Suite Executives: The CEOs, COOs and CFOs at ag startups or established corporations routinely earn over $200,000 for overseeing company growth and profitability. A bachelor’s or master’s degree is generally needed in addition to a background in leadership and at least five years’ industry experience.

• Agricultural Lawyers: Because ag is so highly regulated, such professionals may handle issues related to water, land use, pesticides, seeds, the environment, immigration, commerce, intellectual property, mergers, etc. Salaries average out at $160,000. Required: a bachelor’s degree, JD and completed state bar exam.

• Ag Sales Managers: Those skilled in overseeing sales teams are earning on average $125,000-plus annually. Most hold bachelor’s degrees in agronomy, crop science, soil science, biology, agricultural business or a related field.

• Ag Scientists: Salaries average out at $120,000. A bachelor’s degree typically suffices, with in-demand specialties like bioinformatics, animal genetics or the regulatory environment.

• Ag Engineers: Specialties in demand include environmental, ethanol and mechanical engineers, with average salaries running upwards of $80,000 for bachelor’s degrees — (BPT).


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