According to the Department of Labor, approximately 19,900 soil and plant scientists, 17,000 food scientists and technologists, and 6,100 animal scientists are employed in the United States. Agricultural scientists work primarily in education, manufacturing, and for federal, state, and local governments. They work within the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, and for regional extension agencies and soil conservation departments. Scientists with doctorates may work on the faculty of colleges and universities. Researchers work for chemical and pharmaceutical companies, and with agribusiness and consulting firms. Agricultural scientists also work in the food processing industry.
Agricultural scientists often are recruited prior to graduation. College and university career services offices offer information about jobs, and students may arrange interviews with recruiters who visit the campus.
Direct application may be made to the personnel departments of colleges and universities, private industries, and nonprofit research foundations. People interested in positions with the federal government may contact the local offices of state employment services and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (https://www.usajobs.gov) or federal government one-stop career centers, which are located in various large cities throughout the country. Private employment agencies are another method that might be considered. Large companies sometimes conduct job fairs in major cities and will advertise them in the business sections of the local newspapers.
Advancement in this field depends on education, experience, and job performance. Agricultural scientists with advanced degrees generally start in teaching or research and advance to administrative and management positions, such as supervisor of a research program. The number of such jobs is limited, however, and often the route to advancement is through specialization. The narrower specialties are often the most valuable.
People who enter this field with only a bachelor's degree are much more restricted. After starting in testing and inspecting jobs or as technical sales and service representatives, they may progress to advanced technicians, particularly in medical research, or become high school biology teachers. In the latter case, they must have had courses in education and meet the state requirements for teaching credentials.
Tips for Entry
Read publications such as Biological Engineering Transactions (https://www.asabe.org/Publications-Standards) to learn more about the field.
Visit the following Web sites for job listings:
Visit https://www.bio-link.org/resources/where for a list of biotechnology employers by state.
Participate in internships or part-time jobs that are arranged by your college’s career services office. Also, visit https://www.careerplacement.org for information on internships.