Agribusiness Training and Certificate Program Information
Agribusiness, also known as agricultural business, is the study of business management in relation to farming. The study of agribusiness involves many different aspects of the field, such as distribution, marketing and retail sales. Students with an interest in agribusiness have many educational options with certificate programs, associate and bachelor's degrees in the agricultural industry.
Certificate Programs in Agribusiness
Certificate programs in agricultural business require applicants to have a high school diploma or a GED. A certificate in agribusiness is usually sufficient to gain entry-level employment or transfer into a degree program in agribusiness or a related discipline. Certificates typically contain only professional courses, may be completed online and take only 1-2 semesters to complete.
Common topics covered in a certificate program include farm management, employee and labor issues, accounting, marketing and legal subjects. Additional coursework may include:
- Crop fertilization
- Agribusiness industries
- Animal and plant science
- Conserving natural resources
Some schools allow credit from certificate program courses to be applied toward an associate degree. However, graduates may gain knowledge and skills applicable to their own farm or agricultural business. Earning a certificate also prepares individuals for entry-level jobs in farming, including:
- Domestic grain trader
- Sales specialist
- Farm administrative assistant
- Livestock support
Associate Degree Programs in Agribusiness
A 2-year associate degree program in agribusiness combines the study of agricultural science with business management training. Students learn to become entrepreneurs in the field of farming. Associate degree programs typically require a high school diploma or GED to enroll. Some schools offer courses fully or partially online.
Courses in an associate degree program provide foundational business skills attributed to farming and agricultural industries. General education is also a common component of a curriculum. Some course topics may include:
- Science of soil and crops
- Accounting strategies
- Technology in agribusiness
- Farm resource management
- Economic impacts on agriculture
Associate degree programs prepare graduates for entry- and mid-level positions in agribusiness. A few career options include:
- International grain trader
- Agricultural engineer
- Farm equipment operator
- Livestock or crop manager
Bachelor's Degree Programs in Agribusiness
Some bachelor's degree programs in agribusiness allow students to choose a concentration, such as general farming management or animal science. Professionals in the field may benefit by completing the program through online learning. Many programs also offer research opportunities and hands-on experience in greenhouses, agriculture offices and farming environments.
In a bachelor's degree program in agribusiness, students usually apply learned skills in a practical setting through work co-op or internship opportunities. Course topics include:
- Environmental issues
- Agricultural commodities
- Sales, marketing and distribution
- Managing personnel
- Agricultural development and research
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment is anticipated to decline for farmers, ranchers and agricultural managers and workers during the 2010-2020 decade, largely due to technological improvements in farming equipment and the increasing ability to produce more crops with fewer workers. However, due to greater awareness and regulations regarding food safety, agricultural and food scientists are expected to see 10% growth in employment, and positions for agricultural and food science technicians are expected to increase by 7%.
As of May 2012, the BLS reports that general farmworkers and laborers bring in a median salary of less than $20,000 per year while farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers earn a median annual income of $69,300. Additionally, soil and plant scientists bring in a median of $58,740 per year while technicians in this field earn $34,070 (www.bls.gov).
Graduates with a bachelor's degree in agribusiness may choose to enter the profession immediately; however, earning a master's or doctoral degree in agribusiness may increase employment and salary opportunities. Master's degree programs typically offer concentrated studies in management techniques and business practices in farming, livestock management and crop control. Doctoral programs provide a focus on research and the economics of agribusiness. Those with a graduate degree may also choose to teach in the field at secondary and postsecondary schools.
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