A degree in agriculture, sometimes called agricultural science, can lead to many diverse careers, depending on what educational track the student pursues. These degree programs prepare graduates for jobs related to the science and business of growing cash crops, raising farm animals and caring for natural resources.
Students interested in the agriculture industry generally need diplomas or degrees, regardless of what agriculture careers they wish to pursue. Students can earn degrees that will help them produce an ample and safe food supply as farmers or preserve and improve food products as food scientists. Students who want to publicize information about the industry can earn degrees in agriculture journalism.
Farmers operate crop farms and ranches. They use machinery, fertilizers, land-use timetables and many other tools to grow various crops, such as corn, cotton and soybeans, or to raise farm animals, such as hogs, cattle or sheep. Many farms are family owned, but corporate interests are consolidating an increasing number of farms. Some farmers rent and work additional land from other farms to supplement their incomes. All farmers typically perform a wide variety of tasks, from planting, fertilizing and harvesting crops to keeping financial records.
Food scientists work for the government, universities or commercial food processors to develop and improve food products. They may work with plants and animals to develop new food sources or analyze existing foods to determine vitamin, mineral and calorie content. They might also research ways to remove harmful ingredients or additives. Food scientists may work towards improving the processing and delivery of food. Some food scientists enforce government food-processing safety and quality regulations.
Agricultural journalists distribute information about the agriculture industry to the public, legislators, commodity groups and government agencies through broadcast, print or web-based media. Some agricultural journalists work with advertising or public-relations agencies, while others are employed by food companies.