When considering jobs in agriculture, you must think both large and small. Large is agribusiness, big corporations developing new crops, fertilizers, pesticides and other products to produce high yield crops. Small, on the other hand, is the move toward local, organic foods, and small farms with hand raised crops and animals.
Agribusiness and large scale farming continues to be the primary source of food in the United States and many other nations. While traditional agricultural jobs of raising crops and animals remain important, agribusiness also encompasses numerous career paths in research and development as well as sales, marketing, and education. Jobs in agriculture are not the first thing one thinks of when studying biochemistry, engineering, biotechnology, or even computer sciences, but any of those degrees can open a path to lucrative employment in the agribusiness sector. As more and more functions become computerized, and as demand for food rises with population growth worldwide, high tech jobs in agriculture will continue to expand. Workers with both high tech and agricultural knowledge will be in demand.
On the other end of the scale, interest in organic and locally produced food has exploded in the last decade. Concern for health and the environment has led many people to begin choosing local and organic foods, even if they cost more. Farmer’s markets have boomed, and even traditional grocery stores have expanded their organic food offerings.
What does this mean in terms of agricultural jobs? It means that large scale agriculture is not the only way to go. For the first time in decades there is an increase in people wanting to take up small farming on either a part time or full time basis. Many are approaching this as a second career or an entirely new career path and did not grow up in farming communities or working on farms. This means an increased demand for people with agricultural knowledge to teach school courses, write books, and consult with people setting up a new farm or perhaps transitioning to organic farming. Experts in farming and animal husbandry will find their expertise in demand as more people decide to grow food for themselves and their local community.
On both the large and small scale, agricultural jobs are expanding and taking in more kinds of knowledge, both in terms of new technology, and rediscovering traditional techniques. It is an exciting time to move into this field.