Agricultural Engineering Careers

Read on to learn about typical courses, resources, and careers in this field.

Staff Writer

2022-11-1015 min read

Agricultural engineers integrate technological concepts and practices with farming. These engineering professionals design and build agricultural structures such as greenhouses, dams, warehouses, water reservoirs, and other infrastructures.

Some professionals design and maintain agricultural tools, machinery, and equipment to improve farming processes, while others develop pollution control solutions in large farms.

Most accredited colleges and institutions offering this program provide students with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in various industries.

This guide explores career options, degree programs, salaries, job outlook, and other valuable information for agricultural engineers.

Why Choose Agricultural Engineering?

Agricultural engineers create and use technology to make farming more effective and efficient. For example, some engineers create climate control systems that increase livestock comfort while others improve crop storage capacity and refrigeration efficiency.

Agricultural engineers strive to design better agricultural solutions and introduce tech and geospatial systems into agriculture. For example, students with programming knowledge can automate harvesting systems and increase farming efficiency.

Choosing this engineering discipline prepares you for an exciting career path that allows you to help improve the lives of many.

How to Start your Agricultural Engineering Journey

Most entry-level agricultural engineering jobs require an associate's or bachelor's degree, preferably in related agricultural or biological disciplines. These college programs include field studies in math, engineering, science, and laboratory practices.

However, you'll need advanced education and a professional engineering license to work in public services and government sectors.

Educational Requirements

Associate Degree

An associate’s degree bolsters your professional skill sets and prepares you for entry-level positions or a bachelor’s program. Schools offering this course teach processing and production methods in agriculture.

You can combine your studies with work since many colleges support part-time learning or online courses.

Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s in agricultural engineering provides students with theoretical and practical knowledge in agricultural production, economic sciences, animal husbandry, and plant protection.

This four-year program paves the way for lucrative career options in agricultural sectors and various industries.

Master’s Degree

This advanced degree helps professionals to solve agricultural issues by designing and creating technological solutions. Most schools offer courses like aquacultural engineering, trade policies, waste management, ergonomics, and farm production engineering, among others.

Doctorate in Agricultural Engineering

A doctorate in this field prepares you for senior-level roles or academic careers in universities and other higher institutions.

It will teach you how to apply advanced knowledge and theories to improve agricultural operations.

Accredited institutions offering this program usually combine mechanical, civil, and electrical engineering fields to design sustainable solutions and products.

Employment Prospects

Agricultural engineers work in various agricultural and engineering fields. You can find these professionals in sectors like food and beverage manufacturing, agriculture, architectural and construction services, the federal government, and nonprofits.

These engineers work indoors and on the field, creating plans and managing agricultural projects and equipment. They also collaborate with animal scientists, horticulturalists, civil engineers, and geneticists to design sustainable farming practices.

Agricultural Engineering Career Forecast

According to LinkedIn data, the future of agricultural engineering is bright, with the world’s population estimated to reach 9 billion by 2050. As a result, more agricultural engineers will need to join the ranks and design innovative solutions to meet the global demand.

However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows little to no employment changes from 2021 to 2031.

The department also projects around 100 job openings yearly to replace workers who switch to different engineering disciplines or quit the labor force.

Lucrative Agricultural Engineering Career Paths

These are some lucrative career options for agricultural engineers to explore.

Agricultural Engineers

These professionals solve agricultural problems involving power supplies, machinery efficiency, use of structures, product storage, pollution, and other environmental issues.

They work on various agricultural projects, including aquaculture, forestry, food processing, and climate control systems for animals.

Average Salary

Agricultural engineers earn median wages of about $82,000, with the top 10% making more than $127,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Test agricultural equipment and ensure its safety
  • Design systems, equipment, or structure with computer software
  • Supervise production operations and agricultural constructions

Industries Employing Agricultural Engineers

  • Grain and Oilseed Milling
  • Scientific Research and Development Services
  • Federal Executive Branch (OEWS Designation)
  • Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services

Agricultural Equipment Technician

These professional engineers repair and maintain agricultural machineries such as tractors, seeding machines, tillage and harvesting equipment.

Agricultural equipment technicians handle everything from hand and power tools to heavy-duty machines.

Average Salary

Agricultural equipment technicians earn average salaries of around $50,000, with top earners making over $80,000 yearly.

Most employers pay hourly wages of $24-$38 per hour.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Service and repair electronic systems, engines, transmissions, and hydraulic systems of farm equipment
  • Run diagnostics with computer software to test machinery
  • Reassemble, adjust, or replace broken or faulty equipment parts
  • Install precision farm technologies

Industries Employing Agricultural Equipment Technicians

  • Forestry, fishing, and hunting
  • Transportation and warehousing
  • Scientific research and development
  • Other service industries (repair, personal services, and related)

Environmental Engineers

Environmental engineers apply engineering principles, biology, chemistry, and soil science to solve agricultural and environmental problems.

They also manage global issues like environmental sustainability, public health, waste disposal, and water and air pollution.

Average Salary

Environmental engineers earn median wages of around $96,000, with the highest percentile making over $150,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Analyze scientific data and run quality checks on the environment
  • Design and develop projects for air pollution control systems or water reclamation facilities
  • Ensure industries and facilities follow environmental regulations

Industries Employing Environmental Engineers

  • Water, Sewage and Other Systems
  • Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services
  • Remediation and Other Waste Management Services

Agricultural and Food Scientists

These professionals research and devise new ways to improve agricultural efficiency and product safety. As a result, they observe crop production or animal rearing and design solutions to increase output.

Most agricultural and food scientists work in laboratories, in the field, or in offices and spend their time studying data and reports.

Average Salary

Agricultural and food scientists earn median annual wages of around $74,000, with top earners making over $128,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Study soil composition and how it affects plant growth
  • Analyze the nutritional content of food and crops
  • Develop new food products and design efficient processing and packaging methods
  • Relate research findings to scientific communities

Industries Employing Agricultural and Food Scientists

  • Grain and Oilseed Milling
  • Fruit and Vegetable Preservation and Food Manufacturing Sectors
  • Scientific Research and Development Services
  • Other Food Manufacturing Industries

Irrigation Engineer

Irrigation engineers design irrigation systems and oversee their production and implementation. These professionals have extensive knowledge of farming processes and irrigation systems.

They also manage crop dusting, maintain pipes, and adjust plans for various agricultural planting seasons.

Average Salary

Irrigation engineers earn over $67,000 in median annual wages, with the top percentile earning more than $130,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Design and develop cost-effective and efficient irrigation systems
  • Analyze soil drainage, water supply and conservation issues
  • Install and manage irrigation systems for crops
  • Help implement drought solutions with other professionals

Industries Employing Irrigation Engineers

  • Machinery Manufacturing
  • Architectural, Engineering, and Related Sectors
  • Scientific Research and Development Services
  • Other Food Manufacturing Industries

Agricultural and Food Science Technicians

These engineering professionals assist agricultural and food scientists in measuring and analyzing food quality. They collect samples for analysis and keep detailed records of every experiment.

Average Salary

Agricultural and food science technicians earn around $40,000 in median wages, with the top 10% earning over $62,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Analyze chemical and physical properties of crops
  • Collect samples and prepare for testing
  • Test food additives to ensure they follow compliance directives and safety protocols
  • Prepare charts and report findings

Industries Employing Agricultural and Food Science Technicians

  • Food, Beverage, and Tobacco Product Manufacturing
  • Fruit and Vegetable Preservation and Food Manufacturing Sectors
  • Warehousing and Storage
  • Management of Companies and Enterprises

Soil Technician

Soil technicians manage soils for farming endeavors and agricultural projects. They handle crop rotation strategies and ensure the soil stays healthy for the plants.

Some soil technicians manage soil for farm crops, while others handle the ones for livestock grazing.

Average Salary

These professionals earn median wages of around $49,000, with top earners making over $70,000 yearly.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Test and analyze soil samples to understand their characteristics
  • Collect samples and test in laboratories
  • Determine the chemical and physical composition of soil samples

Industries Employing Soil Technicians

  • Farm Product Raw Material Merchant Wholesalers
  • Scientific Research and Development Services
  • Building and Construction Sectors

Agricultural Managers

These professionals manage crop rotation and supervise and implement various agricultural activities in nurseries, farmlands, greenhouses, and other food production sites.

They also hire and train other farm workers and ensure smooth farm operations.

Average Salary

Agricultural managers earn about $50,000 to $160,000 in median annual wages.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Manage and optimize daily farm operations
  • Hire and train employees
  • Prepare monthly farm budgets
  • Ensure the organization uphold compliance and regulation standards

Industries Employing Agricultural Managers

  • Farm Product Raw Material Merchant Wholesalers
  • Social Advocacy Organizations
  • Merchant Wholesalers, Durable Goods Only
  • Food and Beverage Manufacturing

Biosystems Engineer

Biosystems engineers integrate chemical, mechanical, and civil engineering fields with biology and agricultural science. They design and create sustainable solutions for agricultural products.

These professionals develop strategies and alternative uses for animal and plant byproducts and wastes.

Average Salary

Biosystems engineers earn over $98,000 in median annual wages, with the top percentile making over $150,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Study and test biological processes
  • Reduce or eliminate environmental hazards
  • Apply best practices to preserve natural resources
  • Design efficient storage and packaging solutions for products

Industries Employing Biosystems Engineers

  • Scientific Research and Development Services
  • Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing
  • Food and Beverage Manufacturing

Aquacultural Engineer

These engineers ensure aquatic farming operations run smoothly and manage the necessary systems to maximize efficiencies. In addition, they solve technical issues affecting aquatic farming.

Average Salary

Aquaculture engineers earn median salaries of around $74,000, with the top 10% earning over $100,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Analyze and design new water systems for fish farms
  • Develop aquatic production facilities like ponds and raceways for internal hatcheries
  • Use computer modeling software to predict or simulate underwater conditions to create sustainable solutions

Industries Employing Aquaculture Engineers

  • Commercial aquatic farms and private hatcheries
  • Scientific research and development services
  • Animal production and aquaculture

Horticultural Engineer

Horticultural engineering blends plant science, computer science, agricultural engineering, and control theory to develop effective plant-growing systems. These engineers design everything from high-tech greenhouses to low-tech row cover systems.

Average Salary

Horticulture engineers earn over $71,000 in median annual wages, with top earners making over $130,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Design and build hydroponics systems and greenhouses
  • Develop equipment to improve farming structures
  • Implement renewable energy systems and optimize food production

Industries Employing Horticultural Engineers

  • Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services
  • Scientific Research and Development Services
  • Machinery Manufacturing Services

Plant Physiologist

Plant physiologists study different plant functions and how they work at a cellular level. They analyze various plants, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and develop plans to improve quality.

Plant physiologists also focus on soil preference, pollination patterns, and the plant’s response to light, heat, or moisture.

Average Salary

These professionals earn median wages of around $71,000 yearly, with the top percentile earning over $100,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Study biological, chemical, and physical functions of living plants
  • Analyze plant cells, molecules, and genes in the laboratory
  • Develop new methods for improving plant growth
  • Write scientific reports and papers on findings

Industries Employing Plant Physiologists

  • Scientific Research and Development Services
  • Farm Product Raw Material Merchant Wholesalers
  • Fruit and Vegetable Preservation and Food Manufacturing Sectors


Agronomists run experiments on plants and design new techniques for crop production. They manage soil control and maximize soil health and plant nutrients.

Other professionals call them "crop doctors" because they focus on the health and well-being of plants for food production, biofuel, and animal grazing.

Average Salary

Agronomists earn median wages of around $57,000, with top earners making over $80,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Manage nutrient distribution
  • Analyze soil, water, and plant samples
  • Gather data and draft agricultural plans
  • Supervise and implement best farm practices

Industries Employing Agronomists

  • Scientific research and development services
  • Mid to large-scale farms
  • Government agencies and crop protection firms
  • Environmental organizations

Agricultural Technologist

These professionals help farmers and agricultural scientists develop efficient working methods for farmlands and farming businesses. As a result, agricultural technologists specialize in food, plant, or animal technology.

Average Salary

Agricultural technologists earn over $60,000 in median annual wages.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Gather crop samples for analysis
  • Check soil pH and nutrient levels
  • Clean and maintain agricultural equipment
  • Share findings with other engineering professionals

Industries Employing Agricultural Technologists

  • Food, Beverage, and Tobacco Product Manufacturing
  • Warehousing and Storage
  • Scientific Research and Development Services
  • Management of Companies and Enterprises


Hydrologists collect and study water samples and analyze environmental factors in various water bodies. They also apply their knowledge to solve water quality and availability issues.

Average Salary

Hydrologists earn around $84,000 in median annual wages, with the top 10% making over $135,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Evaluate project feasibility of irrigation systems, hydroelectric power plants, and water treatment facilities
  • Analyze water and soil samples to test for pollution or pH levels
  • Forecast water supplies, floods, pollution spread, and other events with computer models
  • Present findings and reports to upper management and scientific communities

Industries Employing Hydrologists

  • Agricultural Facilities
  • Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services
  • Federal and Local Government
  • Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services

Farmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural Managers

These agricultural professionals manage companies and establishments that produce livestock, crops, and dairy products. As a result, they monitor product prices and develop strategies to handle market changes and potential losses.

Average Salary

These professionals earn median wages of around $73,000, with top earners making over $125,000 yearly.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Supervise and manage agricultural activities, including planting, harvesting, and herding
  • Determine farm budgets, product storage, and transportation
  • Oversee animal care and breeding
  • Maintain farming equipment and supplies

Industries Employing Farmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural Managers

  • Farm Product Raw Material Merchant Wholesalers
  • Support Activities for Crop and Animal Production
  • Management of Companies and Enterprises
  • Social Advocacy Organizations

How to Boost your Agricultural Engineering Career

Agricultural engineers can boost their careers by pursuing advanced degrees and licensure to improve their qualifications for higher-paying positions.

You can also join any professional organizations below to access development courses, annual conferences, mentorship opportunities, and more.

Pros and Cons of Agricultural Engineering Careers

Agricultural engineers apply biological and technological knowledge to solve agricultural problems and improve lives. As a result, this discipline has several benefits. However, it also has its disadvantages.

Let’s explore some of them.


  • It’s an excellent career for problem-solvers
  • You can choose to work indoors in a laboratory
  • Lucrative career prospects
  • You use technology to improve agriculture


  • Long working hours
  • Potentially hazardous workplace conditions
  • Higher-paying roles require advanced education

Skills You’ll Develop While Studying Agricultural Engineering

Agricultural engineers require specific skills and abilities to perform their duties effectively and excel in their respective fields. These are the vital skills you'll need to excel at your chosen career path.

Mathematical and Statistical Skills

Developing advanced math and statistics skills can advance your career. For example, you need these skillsets to collate data, design efficient machinery and infrastructure, and improve agricultural equipment.

Management Skills

You can plan, schedule, and oversee different agricultural processes and operations without sacrificing quality. This skill is beneficial when working with farmers on new projects or farm equipment.

Interpersonal and Communication Skills

Agricultural engineers need to convey information clearly and precisely to avoid misinterpretations and conflicts with other professionals.

Honing your written and verbal communication skills helps you easily explain technical concepts to audiences.

Comprehensive Research Abilities

This skill is helpful for agricultural engineers as they need to conduct exhaustive research on soil samples, crops, irrigation patterns, and more.

Armed with extensive knowledge of these subjects, they can make informed decisions that improve agricultural operations.

Problem-Solving Skills

This skill helps you solve any issue that occurs in the lab and field. You'd need to identify potential mechanical problems and handle them quickly before they occur.

How to Prepare for an Agricultural Engineering Career

1. Earn an Undergraduate Degree

Most jobs in this field require a college degree in related engineering disciplines. So, your first step should involve pursuing a bachelor’s degree.

Ensure you choose an ABET-certified school for this program.

2. Earn a Professional Engineering License

Since most states require a professional engineering license to practice, you need to pass the Fundamentals of Engineering exam first.

You can sit for the professional engineering certification with your FE certification and subsequent work experience.

3. Join a Professional Organization

Joining a professional engineering organization helps you build strong connections with industry experts and expand your knowledge of new technologies.

These organizations update you on local and industry news and developments.

4. Pursue Advanced Educational Opportunities

Earning postgraduate agricultural engineering degrees prepare you for advanced tasks and upper-management roles in companies.

Most master's and PhD programs teach you how to resolve agricultural issues with high-level solutions and sustainability practices.

Agricultural Engineering Resources to Help Your Career

You can find valuable engineering resources for agricultural engineers here:

Some organizations provide grants and government initiatives to help young professionals start businesses.

You can also find agricultural journals and online publications to improve your knowledge pool.

How to Switch to an Agricultural Engineering Career

You can switch to an agricultural engineering field with a bachelor’s in related disciplines like civil, environmental, and industrial engineering. Since these fields share similarities, you can transition easily.

However, you may need to pursue postgraduate degrees in agriculture to improve your knowledge of crops, trade policies, irrigation systems, and more.

If you're moving from a non-engineering field, you may need to start with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree program.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is agricultural engineering?

This engineering discipline designs and develops farm machinery, facilities, drainage, water supply and irrigation, erosion control, soil control, and more.

Agricultural engineers work with other professionals to solve agricultural problems and improve farming efficiency and sustainability.

What certification do I need for an agricultural engineering career?

These engineering certifications showcase your skills, prove credibility to hiring managers, and help you stand out from the competition.

Can I get an agricultural engineering degree online?

Yes, you can.

Several accredited institutions and colleges offer online undergraduate and postgraduate degrees for agricultural engineers.

What fields can agricultural engineering professionals work in?

Agricultural engineers can work across multiple sectors, including engineering services, scientific research laboratories, machinery manufacturing plants, and food, beverage, and tobacco product manufacturing.

Is there a high demand for agricultural engineering majors?

Thanks to the growing population and the demand for sustainable agricultural practices, most industries and organizations will need agricultural engineers to increase efficiency.

Final Thoughts

Agricultural engineers create and maintain technologies that make farming operations more efficient. They apply engineering principles, biology, chemistry, and soil science to develop techniques and equipment to increase crop output and sustainability.

With an agricultural engineering degree from an ABET-accredited school, you can explore a lucrative career in multiple industries today.

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