Animal Husbandry Degrees by Degree Program Level
Animal husbandry involves the breeding and caring for of farm animals. Most animal husbandry programs fall under an animal science major. Animal science degree programs are available at the associate's and bachelor's degree levels.
Associate's Degree in Animal Science
Students interested in animal husbandry can start their education by pursuing an associate's degree in animal science. This 2-year degree program instructs students in the production and management of livestock. Coursework focuses on providing a comprehensive understanding of animal agriculture, with classes in health and sanitation, breeding, livestock evaluation and other topics.
Individuals seeking admission to an associate's degree program in animal science will most likely need to submit high school transcripts or their equivalent. Other admission requirements, such as standardized test scores, are rare for this program; however, some schools, especially 4-year institutions, might require more.
Applying students are usually aware of the physical demands of a career in animal husbandry. A love of animals is important but so is strong mental and physical conditioning.
Coursework is topically focused on animal agriculture, with a few elective requirements. Sample core course titles include:
- Livestock marketing
- Equine nutrition
- Breeding and genetics
- Animal anatomy and physiology
- Housing construction
Popular Career Options
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the increasing cost of land, machinery and other essentials will contribute to fewer employment opportunities for farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers from 2010-2020. Job opportunities are expected to decline by eight percent during this decade. This decline will be partially offset by the growing popularity of small-scale, local and organic farming. Some sample job titles are included below:
- Agricultural inspector
- Organic meat and produce farmer
- Animal breeder
Bachelor's Degree in Animal Science
Bachelor's degree programs in animal science vary with regards to the emphasis of the curriculum. Some are designed to prepare individuals for entry-level positions in the animal and food industries. Other programs feature a curriculum designed for the farm owner or operator. Independent of the curriculum emphasis, a bachelor's degree program in animal science teaches the biological and physical processes involved in animal care and utilization. Many of these programs feature a work internship, in which the degree candidate gains valuable hands-on experience working at a farm or in the agricultural industry.
Gaining admission to a bachelor's degree program in animal science requires the submission of high school transcripts and standardized test scores. Other requirements may include an admissions essay and letters of recommendation.
In addition to a core animal science curriculum, degree candidates enroll in a set number of liberal arts electives. Sample core curriculum course titles are:
- Herd health
- Range management
- Food and fiber systems
- Advanced breeding
- Swine nutrition
Career Outlook and Salary Information
Useful salary information for farmers and ranchers can be difficult to ascertain, owing in part to the annual fluctuations in price and demand for farm output. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for animal breeders was $34,250 as of May 2012. The BLS also reports a median salary of $69,300 for farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers, and $25,140 for general agricultural workers as of May 2012.
Continuing Education Information
For the person interested in a career caring for or breeding farm animals, an associate's or bachelor's degree in animal science is usually sufficient. While graduate degree programs in animal husbandry are extremely rare, master's and doctoral degree programs in animal science are available. These programs are designed to teach the skills and knowledge needed for senior research and faculty positions within the agricultural sector. Related programs, which include an animal husbandry curriculum at the graduate level, include veterinary technology, veterinary medicine, agricultural science and animal management.
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