Ag graduates are in high demand
Katelyn Allen, Associate Editor
March 29, 2021
Job opportunities in the fields surrounding agriculture will continue to expand in the coming years
Each year, thousands of students enthusiastic about the livestock, agronomy, science, environmental resources, communication, engineering, and many other fields that play a role in producing and distributing food finish their education and begin finding their place in the workforce. Fortunately for them, a wide array of career options awaits.
Already, more than 19 million jobs are directly tied to agricultural production, manufacturing, wholesaling, and retailing. Add in the impact from suppliers and supporters — jobs in areas like construction, transportation, finance, and government — and that number swells to over 40 million. Nearly 20% of U.S. economic activity stems from the food and agriculture industries. In 2020, that added up to roughly $7 trillion.
Purdue University partnered with USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to study the future job opportunities for agricultural graduates, and the numbers remain promising. Between 2020 and 2025, they estimate that there will be 59,400 job openings in the food, agriculture, natural resources, and environmental fields every year.
Employer demand for students trained in these disciplines is even expected to exceed the number of graduates. The majority of jobs will be filled by agriculture and food graduates, with the rest by students in allied fields like biology, engineering, and journalism.
Here are the four major categories where the researchers expect new college graduates to have the most opportunities in agriculture and environmental jobs, as well as examples of careers predicted to be in demand.
Management and business: 24,700 projected job openings each year
Lenders, credit analysts, financial managers, and advisers
Technical sales and service specialists
Data scientists and analysts
Marketing and e-commerce professionals
Parks and recreation specialists
Science and engineering: 18,400 projected job openings each year
Food scientists and nutritionists
Large animal veterinarians
Biochemists, research biologists, microbiologists, and geneticists
Artificial intelligence, automation, and precision technology experts
Education, communication, and government: 8,400 projected job openings each year
Middle and high school agriscience and natural resources teachers
Agricultural faculty, especially at junior and community colleges
Agricultural communications professionals, especially in digital and social media
Small business specialists
Food and biomaterials production: 7,900 projected job openings each year
Agronomists, horticulturalists, and crop scientists
Plant, soil, and weed scientists
Organic, local, and niche food producers
Biomaterials and bioenergy manufacturers and engineers
Urban agriculture developers and leaders
Some of these jobs might fall outside of what we traditionally think of as agriculture, but they illustrate how broad the field is and how many talented individuals it takes to produce food while taking care of our environmental resources efficiently. If you want to be part of an industry that affects every person in the world, agriculture can be a great fit for wherever your passions lie!