Agricultural engineers combine their knowledge of engineering technology and biology to address various agricultural concerns. Areas of expertise include machinery, soil and water conservation, and agricultural products. Agricultural engineers develop, test and evaluate products for efficiency and environmental impact.
Agricultural engineers work in research and development, production, sales or management positions. They are most often employed as consultants for various professional, scientific and technical organizations that have clients in the farming and agriculture industries. Some also work for colleges, universities or government agencies.
Virtually all entry-level engineering jobs require a bachelor’s degree in engineering. While the most common undergraduate degree programs are in electrical, mechanical or civil engineering, some universities do offer programs in agricultural engineering with concentrations in specialized areas, such as renewable energy, equipment, and soil and water resources.
In addition to formal education, engineers who work independently are required to pass a State exam to be licensed as a professional engineer. Agricultural engineers should also attend conferences and take courses to familiarize themselves with current theories and practices. The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers provides individuals in the field with invaluable resources and opportunities for continuing education.
Agricultural engineers represent the intersection of science, technology and agriculture. Their expertise is used to design agricultural machinery and equipment; develop renewable energy systems; conserve soil and water resources; and improve the production and processing of agricultural products.
A career in agricultural engineering can involve the following specialized tasks:
Engineers spend most of their time indoors, working in laboratories, offices and industrial plants.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of agricultural engineering should experience a growth rate of 12 percent by the year 2018. Agricultural engineers specializing in renewable resources should have the best job prospects.
A May 2008 government report cites the average salary for an agricultural engineer as just over $68,500, with the median salary ranging from $55,500 to $86,500.