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Agriculturists are specialists in all areas of cultivation and raising livestock. They are scientists who advise farmers on soil management, breeding, animals' living conditions, crop protection, environmental sustainability, disease and harvesting. They work for government agencies, as well as independently, bringing information and advice to food producers. Agriculturists are trained in general agricultural studies, but usually specialize either on the job or in a master's program in one or more areas of agricultural science. The most common areas of specialization are as follows:

Crop specialization: These agriculturists provide information on crops, soil fertility and conservation, rotation management, weed and pest control, harvesting and developments in crop technology. Others focus on developing new pesticides and herbicides and market them to America's crop farmers.

Animal specialization: These agriculturists work with farmers in the animal production industry improve the profitability of their operations. They provide information about nutrition, breeding, living conditions, and even financial management.

Farm management specialization: These agriculturists assist farmers in planning short- and long-term strategies to increase profits. They provide consultation and seminars on strategic business planning, family business dynamics, production economics, economic and business analysis, business management, multi-generation farm transfers and financial planning.

Biotechnology specialization: These agriculturists develop new plant varieties in an effort to produce stronger, more reliable food sources.

There are also opportunities for agriculturists who work in organic food production, free range animal and animal product production, and environmental assessments and policy. Some agriculturists focus on rural development, and help these communities in development. These agriculturists often take their knowledge overseas to communities struggling to develop sustainable sources for food and economic growth.
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  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
Median Salary:
Highest 10% of Earners:

  Interests and Skills  
Agriculturists have an interest in the science of both animals and plants. They need a love of the outdoors, and enjoy helping others solve problems. Agriculturists should have strong organizational skills, good communication (and listening) skills, and they must be able to work alone as well as part of a team. They need to be analytical and creative when it comes to problem solving.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Respond to questions from individual farmers, farming associations, government agencies and the general public about health of food, soil and environment
  • Provide farmers with appropriate news, information or developments
  • Visit farms and production sites for evaluations
  • Give individual assessments
  • Conduct information sessions, seminars and workshops with large numbers of farmers
  • Demonstrate new products or services
  • Carry out applied and field research into environmental conditions, product effectiveness and animal nutrition and health
  • Agriculturists all have very differing days, due to the broad spectrum of work done by these scientists. While some spend all day in a government test farm, looking at the possibilities of environmentally friendly herbicides, others may be in the head office of a major milk distribution company, discussing artificial insemination of thousands of dairy cattle. Agriculturists look into all aspects of farm life, from the miles and miles of genetically engineered corn to the small family-run organic farm. Their objectives are always the same, however--they are looking for the most cost effective, environmentally sound way of achieving their clients' goals. They travel throughout the country assessing farm land, animal health, and management systems, as well as around the world to conferences and training sessions with international agriculturists.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Agriculturists work outside on fields and pastures, as well as inside research labs and boardrooms, giving seminars and information sessions. They work for government departments, farming and breeding associations, universities and colleges, veterinarians, and independently as advisors to individual ranchers and farmers. They work alone, as well as in a team of other scientists.
  • They may work long hours, especially if they must travel. They don't have to work weekends or evenings very often, unless they are making a presentation, or are en route to their next project.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Agriculturists can specialize in many different areas, so there should always be opportunities for advancement and exploration of other areas of agricultural study. They can work for research companies, or start up a private business of their own, in agricultural counseling, or otherwise. They can write books and articles about agriculture, become environmental advocates, or start up their own organic farms.

  Educational Paths  
Agriculturists need to have a background in agriculture. While it is helpful to have grown up in an agricultural community, it's not a requirement--a genuine interest in the science is enough. Agriculturists have a bachelor's degree in agriculture, or agriculture management, and then specialize in an area of study through experience or a master's degree. Other supporting subjects would be botany, biology, soil science, environmental science and zoology.
  Universities and Colleges
Clarkson UniversityColorado School of MinesDalhousie University
Oral Roberts UniversityPenn State HarrisburgTemple University
The University of HoustonThompson Rivers UniversityUNB Saint John
University of AlabamaUniversity of ArkansasUniversity of British Columbia
University of IowaUniversity of New BrunswickUniversity of Ottawa
York University
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