For hundreds of years, agriculture referred to the science of cultivating food crops and animal farming. But as civilization evolved and technology improved, the definition of agriculture changed. Fruit cultivation, for instance, forestry and food processing are modern days part of agriculture-related subjects important to the society. So, what is agriculture as a college specialization in the modern era?
What is Agriculture as a Specialization?
Agriculture is the process of producing, processing and distributing food crops and livestock materials. Within this industry lies dozens of areas you could specialize in as an agriculture and related subjects student. A specialization in the department of agriculture helps you learn extensively about a specific program within agriculture. A specialization in horticulture, for instance, helps you increase your knowledge in horticulture alone.
Why should you Study Agriculture?
To better understand why agriculture is important in the society, take a minute and think what the world would be like without it. Think about life in areas where there is ever famine. Imagine living in a society where people struggle to get the next meal and end up sleeping hungry because they couldn’t find food. What would life be like if that happened to you? If the idea of solving world food shortage problems interests you, then you don’t need another reason to pursue a degree in agriculture. Besides the need to provide human sustenance, there are other reasons to study agriculture.
Source of Livelihood
Agriculture is the backbone of almost half of the countries in the world. Where it’s not, agriculture makes up a significant contribution to the country’s GDP every year. In the US and UK, agriculture employs 4% and 5% of the population respectively. Department of agriculture jobs spans in the hundreds if you combine the more than dozens of fields that relate to agriculture. The most lucrative jobs in the agriculture field, however, relate to management and technology innovation in the field. Contrary to popular belief, jobs related to the agriculture field are some of the best paying jobs. Managers in leading food processing firms, for instance, earn higher than managers in most other sectors.
Be a Change Maker in the Industry
The agriculture field requires innovators to help it steer forward. Pursuing a degree in agriculture or a related field puts at the right position to come up with changes that could change how food is produced, cultivated, processed, maintained or distributed in the society. You can become part of the group that will help reduce dairy shortages in the country, for example. If you wish to, you can become a researcher and pioneer ideas that could help reduce famine in developing countries.
As already mentioned, the agriculture sector contains dozens of areas you could specialize in. The exact area that interests within this sector is probably a fully developed study area in leading universities. Whether you lovelies in beekeeping, mushroom farming, milk processing or cotton farming, there is a curriculum in the university that could help you achieve your degree.
A goldmine for techie minds and Entrepreneurs
So, you think techies have no room in the agriculture field? Think again. Agriculture is dependent on technology as much as any other industry in this era. If you are a computer wizard or a simple computer lover with an idea that could improve the agricultural sector, pursuing a degree in the agriculture sector will help you solve problems that could earn you millions of dollars in return. If you are of an entrepreneurial mind, on the other hand, the agriculture sector is a gold mine that has made millions of people millionaires.
Attitude towards Agriculture is changing
Gone are the days when everyone went to school to find a job away from the agriculture fields? Nowadays, young people from all parts of the world are changing their views of modern agriculture. The use of technology in farming is making the industry lucrative. If you join the right degree within agriculture, you will probably feel proud that you joined a career is gaining high respect from all corners of the world.
What Skills do you need?
Every industry requires a specific set of skills. Agriculture is no different. Fortunately, the skills you need to be successful in this sector can be learned in a good agriculture school. Some skills you will learn once in the industry, but here is what every employer in the agriculture sector will look for:
Communication skills are taught in almost every course because they are important in every industry. With the department of agriculture jobs, you need these skills to converse with colleagues and seniors on a day to day basis. Employers will also assess your ability to use social media to communicate with thousands of people every day. As an entrepreneur, customers focus on good communication will be important.
Ability to Adapt to Change
As technology continues to impact change in the agriculture sector, you will want to be a person easy on accepting change. Today you will be required to transport materials around your farm using a wheelbarrow, next year a tractor will be better. In the lab where you work technology will continuously impact change and you must embrace it and use it to improve your operations. As an entrepreneur, you will have to train your employees occasionally to keep up with the latest advancements if you wish to get to the top of your industry.
Computer Literacy Skills
In this era, you will continuously be required to handle loads of data in the company you work for. Chances are that you will probably never touch a fork throughout your career. But you will, on a daily basis, work with computers to analyze data received from other departments and process it accordingly. If you become a sales representative in an industry that relates to agriculture, you will have to sell your company’s products with the help of computer slides. You will probably use the software in a day on your line of work.
Time Management Skills
To improve your productivity and efficiency in any field related to agriculture, you must be a good time manager. You probably have already learned to be great at time management previously, but you will need these skills even more in your field of career. Time management is important in almost every profession within agriculture. Logistical managers in dairy farming, for instance, must efficiently process milk and have it delivered before it can expire. In the fields, you must be efficient at what you do so that you accomplish a lot at the end of the day.
Admissions-What are the Entry Requirements
Like with every industry, the admission requirements to pursue a degree in the agriculture fields will vary. Some degree programs will stress on knowledge in chemistry and animal biology while others will stress knowledge in physics and computer literacy. However, the basic requirements for the most undergraduate degree in agriculture are:
- Pass in GCSE with high grades and attain at least C in both math and English
- Have an international Baccalaureate pass score of 33 with no subject scored below 4 (European students)
- Pas IELTS tests.
- High school diploma in North America with a high pass grade level
- Demonstrate interest in the field of study
- Recommendation letters.
- Pass TOEFL exams
Duration of Study
In the US and other developed countries, it takes four years to complete an undergraduate degree in Agriculture or a related field. In some countries such as the UK, it takes 3 years to complete the degree.
What are the Job Opportunities?
Most people focus on the traditional sense of farming so much such that they can’t see the numerous lucrative career opportunities hidden in the broad sector. There are dozens of job opportunities in the agriculture sector that have nothing to do with farming but everything today with the modern way of running companies. Here is a list of opportunities that could interest you in this sector.
- Farm manager
- Agriculture consultant
- Animal Nutritionist
- Food processing expert
- Soil scientist
- Milk processing expert
- Poultry farmer
- Pet breeding expert
- Logistic manager for foods and beverages
- Textile manager
What is the Expected Salary?
According to the U.S. Bureau of labor statistic in 2015, the annual salary for farmers and livestock farmers averaged $64,000. The career outlook is expected to decrease by 2% in the next decade. However, the career outlook for managerial positions and technology-oriented jobs in the agricultural sector is expected to increase at a steady rate.
Top 10 Agricultural Schools
Here are some of the world’s best-rated universities in teaching agriculture science degrees.
- University of Wageningen University, Netherlands
- University of California, Davis, United States
- Cornell University, United States
- Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden
- University of California Berkeley University of California, Berkeley (UCB), United States
- University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States
- Michigan State University, United States
- Purdue University, United States
- Agro, ParisTech, France
- University of Reading, UK