Agricultural Arts: Education and Career Information
Careers in agriculture, sometimes called the agricultural arts, are varied. Workers may find entry-level positions as agricultural inspectors with a high school degree and relevant work experience. They may also obtain a bachelor's degree and become agricultural educators.
Agricultural inspectors are usually hired by federal and state government organizations and are responsible for examining fishing and logging operations, agricultural products and food-processing equipment. Their job is to be sure that industries are complying with laws and regulations that govern safety, food quality and public health.
Education for Agricultural Inspectors
Most jobs as agricultural inspectors require workers to complete some postsecondary coursework in agriculture science, biology or a similar field (www.bls.gov), according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Employers may favor applicants with previous work experience in an agriculture-related field such as food processing. An aspiring agricultural inspector might earn a degree in animal science, plant biology, forestry or another specialty.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture and many states require that inspectors be licensed (www.fsis.usda.gov). Applicants must pass a written test and demonstrate knowledge of proper sanitation and safety procedures.
Career Information for Agricultural Inspectors
According to the BLS, the median annual wage for agricultural inspectors was $42,160 in May 2012. Employment for agricultural inspectors was projected to increase very little or not at all during the 2010-2020 decade, according to the BLS.
Secondary School Agricultural Educator
People who enjoy working with teenagers and have a background in raising plants or animals may wish to become agriculture teachers. They are responsible for instructing middle and high school students in subjects that will prepare them for post-secondary studies in the field, or for entry into the agricultural work force.
Education for Agricultural Educators
According to the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE), public school teachers must be licensed in the state in which they want to teach (www.naee.org). Most states require at least a 4-year Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Education for licensure. In addition, teachers must usually pass a standardized competency test before becoming licensed.
Some degree programs allow students to choose one or more areas of agriculture for specialization, while others provide broad-based training in many aspects of plant, animal and soil science. Prospective teachers also complete coursework from the education departments of their schools. They may study subjects such as methods of education, human relations and educational psychology.
Many agriculture instructors decide to pursue a master's degree after they begin teaching, but this is not usually required. Many universities provide master's degree classes during the summers or online so that teachers can further their education while they are working full-time.
Career Information for Agricultural Educators
While there are no specific salary statistics available for those who teach agriculture classes in secondary schools, the median annual wage for secondary-school career and technical education teachers was $55,160 in May 2012, according to the BLS.
The BLS reported that employment of career and technical education teachers in secondary schools was expected to increase very little or not at all from 2010 to 2020. This stagnant job growth projection is based on the trend toward focusing on traditional academics rather than on career and technical courses.
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