An agricultural technician deals with all the details of running a successful farm, from choosing the best crops for a particular type of soil or environment to operating the numerous machines available to make farm jobs a little easier. They also understand the basics of accounting, record keeping, and human resources. While some work directly on farms, many work behind the scenes in agricultural technology facilities.
Becoming an agricultural technician usually requires a two-year associates degree. In some cases, employers will accept a high school diploma and some experience in the field in lieu of the degree. In other cases, employers want their agricultural technicians to have a four-year degree in a field such as science or mathematics. Those looking to get into the job field should look into the specific requirements of their area’s employers to determine the best educational path. Computers have become an important tool in the agricultural industry, so those who want to become an agricultural technician should have some familiarity with the different programs used.
The duties of an agricultural technician vary significantly from day to day, and from facility to facility. These duties include everything from preparing laboratory samples to working directly with animals. Agricultural technicians may also work with the public, such as educating children on field trips to the farm about the less scientific details that go into running an agricultural business. Flexibility and the ability to adapt to frequently changing job demands are essential qualities in prospective agricultural technicians.
The majority of agricultural technicians work in facilities that deal with the science behind farming rather than on an actual farm itself. They may work with scientists to develop new fertilizers to enhance crop growth, or develop better methods of preventing pests from destroying the crops. Some work as sales representatives for their facilities, while others work for banks that specialize in lending to farmers. The agricultural technician field is very diverse, and there are many different opportunities available.
Most agricultural technicians earn an hourly wage, and that wage varies depending on geographic location and the facility in which they work. Job availability is expected to continue to steadily grow. Specializing in a science field may give an edge to future applicants as the farming industry continues to move towards using more biotechnology to increase crop yields. Those with a four-year degree may have an edge over the competition, and some facilities may cover the costs of obtaining an advanced degree.