Agricultural Engineer

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Job Outlook:
Faster than average
Education: Bachelor's degree
Salary
High: $146,350.00
Average: $90,710.00
Hourly
Average: $43.61

What they do:

Apply knowledge of engineering technology and biological science to agricultural problems concerned with power and machinery, electrification, structures, soil and water conservation, and processing of agricultural products.

On the job, you would:

  • Prepare reports, sketches, working drawings, specifications, proposals, and budgets for proposed sites or systems.
  • Discuss plans with clients, contractors, consultants, and other engineers so that they can be evaluated and necessary changes made.
  • Meet with clients, such as district or regional councils, farmers, and developers, to discuss their needs.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Agricultural engineers must analyze the needs of complex systems that involve workers, crops, animals, machinery and equipment, and the environment.

Communication skills. Agricultural engineers must understand the needs of clients, workers, and others working on a project. Furthermore, they must communicate their thoughts about systems and about solutions to any problems they have been working on.

Math skills. Agricultural engineers use calculus, trigonometry, and other advanced mathematical disciplines for analysis, design, and troubleshooting.

Problem-solving skills. Agricultural engineers’ main role is to solve problems found in agricultural production. Goals may include designing safer equipment for food processing or reducing erosion. To solve these problems, agricultural engineers must creatively apply the principles of engineering.

Personality

A3 Your Strengths Importance

Characteristics of this Career

90% Attention to Detail  -  Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
87% Analytical Thinking  -  Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
87% Integrity  -  Job requires being honest and ethical.
85% Dependability  -  Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
79% Initiative  -  Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
77% Cooperation  -  Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
76% Persistence  -  Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
76% Innovation  -  Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
75% Achievement/Effort  -  Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
71% Adaptability/Flexibility  -  Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
70% Self-Control  -  Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
67% Stress Tolerance  -  Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Strengths

95% Investigative  -  Work involves studying and researching non-living objects, living organisms, disease or other forms of impairment, or human behavior. Investigative occupations are often associated with physical, life, medical, or social sciences, and can be found in the fields of humanities, mathematics/statistics, information technology, or health care service.
89% Realistic  -  Work involves designing, building, or repairing of equipment, materials, or structures, engaging in physical activity, or working outdoors. Realistic occupations are often associated with engineering, mechanics and electronics, construction, woodworking, transportation, machine operation, agriculture, animal services, physical or manual labor, athletics, or protective services.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Values of the Work Environment

78% Working Conditions  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
78% Independence  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
72% Achievement  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
61% Recognition  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.

Aptitude

A3 Your Strengths Importance

Abilities | Cognitive, Physical, Personality

78% Oral Comprehension  -  The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
78% Written Comprehension  -  The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
78% Inductive Reasoning  -  The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
75% Oral Expression  -  The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
75% Problem Sensitivity  -  The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
75% Deductive Reasoning  -  The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
72% Category Flexibility  -  The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
72% Written Expression  -  The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
72% Near Vision  -  The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
69% Visualization  -  The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
69% Information Ordering  -  The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
66% Speech Clarity  -  The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
66% Speech Recognition  -  The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Skills | Cognitive, Physical, Personality

66% Reading Comprehension  -  Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.

Job Details

Responsibilities
Investigate the environmental impact of projects.
Confer with other personnel to resolve design or operational problems.
Create graphical representations of mechanical equipment.
Test performance of electrical, electronic, mechanical, or integrated systems or equipment.
Design structures or facilities.
Direct construction activities.
Advise others regarding green practices or environmental concerns.
Train personnel on proper operational procedures.
Communicate technical information to suppliers, contractors, or regulatory agencies.
Discuss designs or plans with clients.
Direct industrial production activities.
Develop operational methods or processes that use green materials or emphasize sustainability.
Direct environmental development activities.
Prepare detailed work plans.
Design industrial processing systems.
Create graphical representations of mechanical equipment.
Prepare proposal documents.
Document technical design details.
Discuss designs or plans with clients.
Design electronic or computer equipment or instrumentation.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Attributes & Percentage of Time Spent

99% Electronic Mail  -  How often do you use electronic mail in this job?
91% Telephone  -  How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?
88% Face-to-Face Discussions  -  How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job?
85% Work With Work Group or Team  -  How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?
82% Indoors, Environmentally Controlled  -  How often does this job require working indoors in environmentally controlled conditions?
81% Freedom to Make Decisions  -  How much decision making freedom, without supervision, does the job offer?
81% Structured versus Unstructured Work  -  To what extent is this job structured for the worker, rather than allowing the worker to determine tasks, priorities, and goals?
78% Importance of Being Exact or Accurate  -  How important is being very exact or highly accurate in performing this job?
76% Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results  -  What results do your decisions usually have on other people or the image or reputation or financial resources of your employer?
76% Contact With Others  -  How much does this job require the worker to be in contact with others (face-to-face, by telephone, or otherwise) in order to perform it?
73% Frequency of Decision Making  -  How frequently is the worker required to make decisions that affect other people, the financial resources, and/or the image and reputation of the organization?
72% Spend Time Sitting  -  How much does this job require sitting?
70% Letters and Memos  -  How often does the job require written letters and memos?
76% Duration of Typical Work Week  -  Number of hours typically worked in one week.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Tasks & Values

93% Making Decisions and Solving Problems  -  Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
89% Working with Computers  -  Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
88% Getting Information  -  Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
84% Processing Information  -  Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
84% Analyzing Data or Information  -  Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
82% Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates  -  Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
81% Communicating with People Outside the Organization  -  Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
80% Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge  -  Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
77% Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment  -  Providing documentation, detailed instructions, drawings, or specifications to tell others about how devices, parts, equipment, or structures are to be fabricated, constructed, assembled, modified, maintained, or used.
76% Thinking Creatively  -  Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
75% Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials  -  Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
74% Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings  -  Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
74% Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work  -  Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
73% Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events  -  Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
71% Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards  -  Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
70% Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships  -  Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
67% Scheduling Work and Activities  -  Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
67% Providing Consultation and Advice to Others  -  Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
66% Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others  -  Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.

What Agricultural Engineers Do

Agricultural engineers
Agricultural engineers often have to observe the results of their work where the crops are actually grown.

Agricultural engineers attempt to solve agricultural problems concerning power supplies, the efficiency of machinery, the use of structures and facilities, pollution and environmental issues, and the storage and processing of agricultural products.

Duties

Agricultural engineers typically do the following:

  • Use computer software to design equipment, systems, or structures
  • Modify environmental factors that affect animal or crop production, such as airflow in a barn or runoff patterns on a field
  • Test equipment to ensure its safety and reliability
  • Oversee construction and production operations
  • Plan and work together with clients, contractors, consultants, and other engineers to ensure effective and desirable outcomes

Agricultural engineers work in farming, including aquaculture (farming of seafood), forestry, and food processing. They work on a wide variety of projects. For example, some agricultural engineers work to develop climate control systems that increase the comfort and productivity of livestock whereas others work to increase the storage capacity and efficiency of refrigeration. Many agricultural engineers attempt to develop better solutions for animal waste disposal. Those with computer programming skills work to integrate artificial intelligence and geospatial systems into agriculture. For example, they work to improve efficiency in fertilizer application or to automate harvesting systems.

Work Environment

Agricultural engineers held about 1,600 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of agricultural engineers were as follows:

Federal government, excluding postal service 25%
Engineering services 14
Manufacturing 12
State government, excluding education and hospitals 11
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state 5

Agricultural engineers typically work in offices, but may spend time at a variety of worksites, both indoors and outdoors. They may travel to agricultural settings to see that equipment and machinery are functioning according to both the manufacturers’ specifications and federal and state regulations. Some agricultural engineers occasionally work in laboratories to test the quality of processing equipment. They may work onsite when they supervise livestock facility upgrades or water resource management projects.

Agricultural engineers work with others in designing solutions to problems or applying technological advances. They work with people from a variety of backgrounds, such as business, agronomy, animal sciences, and public policy.

Injuries and Illnesses

Agricultural engineers have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations.

Work Schedules

Agricultural engineers typically work full time. Schedules may vary because of weather conditions or other complications. When working on outdoor projects, agricultural engineers may work more hours to take advantage of good weather or fewer hours in case of bad weather.

In addition, agricultural engineers may need to be available outside of normal work hours to address unexpected problems that come up in manufacturing operations or rural construction projects.

Getting Started

Education:
69%
Bachelor's Degree
12%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master.

How to Become an Agricultural Engineer

Agricultural engineers
Bachelor’s degree programs in biological and agricultural engineering typically include significant hands-on components in areas such as science.

Agricultural engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in an engineering field, such as agricultural or biological engineering.

Education

High school students who are interested in studying agricultural engineering should take classes in math and science. College students take courses in calculus, physics, biology, and chemistry. They also may take courses in business, public policy, and economics.

Entry-level jobs in agricultural engineering typically require a bachelor’s degree in engineering, including agricultural engineering or biological engineering. College students may gain practical experience through internships or from working on projects for engineering competitions, in which teams of students design equipment and attempt to solve real problems.

Employers may prefer to hire candidates who have graduated from programs accredited by a professional association, such as ABET.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensure is not required for entry-level positions as an agricultural engineer. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one’s career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience, typically at least 4 years
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

The initial FE exam can be taken after one earns a bachelor’s degree. Engineers who pass this exam are commonly called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After meeting work experience requirements, EITs and EIs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE).

Each state issues its own licenses. Most states recognize licensure from other states, as long as the licensing state’s requirements meet or exceed their own licensure requirements. Several states require engineers to take continuing education to keep their licenses. For licensing requirements, check with your state’s licensing board.

Advancement

New engineers usually work under the supervision of experienced engineers. As they gain knowledge and experience, beginning engineers move to more difficult projects and increase their independence in developing designs, solving problems, and making decisions.

With experience, agricultural engineers may advance to supervise a team of engineers and technicians. Some advance to become engineering managers. Agricultural engineers who become sales engineers use their engineering background to discuss a product’s technical aspects with potential buyers and to help in product planning, installation, and use.

Engineers who have a master’s degree or a Ph.D. are more likely to be involved in research and development activities, and may become postsecondary teachers.

Job Outlook

Employment of agricultural engineers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 100 openings for agricultural engineers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Farms will continue to need agricultural engineers to design more efficient machinery, equipment, and buildings and to help reduce environmental damage.

Agricultural engineers are expected to continue working on projects such as alternative energies and biofuels; precision and automated farming technologies for irrigation, spraying, and harvesting; and worker safety systems.

In addition, strong global competition should further support demand for these workers as farmers seek ways to reduce costs and increase production.

Contacts for More Information

For more information about agricultural engineers, visit

American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers

For information about general engineering education and career resources, visit

American Society for Engineering Education

Technology Student Association

For more information about licensure for agricultural engineers, visit

National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying

National Society of Professional Engineers

National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies

For information about accredited engineering programs, visit

ABET

For a variety of information concerning agriculture, grants, and government initiatives, visit

Future Farmers of America

National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of agricultural engineers.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2022
Agricultural and food science technicians Agricultural and Food Science Technicians

Agricultural and food science technicians assist agricultural and food scientists.

Associate's degree $46,140
Agricultural and food scientists Agricultural and Food Scientists

Agricultural and food scientists research ways to improve the efficiency and safety of agricultural establishments and products.

Bachelor's degree $74,940
Architectural and engineering managers Architectural and Engineering Managers

Architectural and engineering managers plan, direct, and coordinate activities in the fields of architecture and engineering.

Bachelor's degree $159,920
Civil engineers Civil Engineers

Civil engineers plan, design, and supervise the construction and maintenance of building and infrastructure projects.

Bachelor's degree $89,940
Conservation scientists and foresters Conservation Scientists and Foresters

Conservation scientists and foresters manage the land quality of forests, parks, rangelands, and other natural resources.

Bachelor's degree $64,420
Environmental engineers Environmental Engineers

Environmental engineers use engineering disciplines in developing solutions to problems of planetary health.

Bachelor's degree $96,530
Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers Farmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural Managers

Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers run establishments that produce crops, livestock, and dairy products.

High school diploma or equivalent $75,760
Hydrologists Hydrologists

Hydrologists study how water moves across and through the Earth’s crust.

Bachelor's degree $85,990
Industrial engineers Industrial Engineers

Industrial engineers devise efficient systems that integrate workers, machines, materials, information, and energy to make a product or provide a service.

Bachelor's degree $96,350
Mechanical engineers Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical engineers design, develop, build, and test mechanical and thermal sensors and devices.

Bachelor's degree $96,310

Information provided by CareerFitter, LLC and other sources.

Sections of this page includes information from the O*NET 27.3 Database by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.

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