Agricultural and Food Science Technicians

by Kate Williams

What Agricultural and Food Science Technicians Do

Agricultural and food science technicians assist agricultural and food scientists.

Work Environment

Agricultural and food science technicians work in laboratories, processing plants, farms and ranches, greenhouses, and offices.

How to Become an Agricultural or Food Science Technician

Agricultural and food science technicians typically need an associate’s degree in biology, chemistry, crop or animal science, or a related field. Some positions require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree, and others a high school diploma or equivalent plus related work experience.  

Pay

The median annual wage for agricultural and food science technicians was $41,230 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

Employment of agricultural and food science technicians is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Agricultural and food science technicians will be needed to assist scientists as research into agricultural production methods and techniques continues.

Agricultural and food science technicians assist agricultural and food scientists by performing duties such as measuring and analyzing the quality of food and agricultural products. Duties range from performing agricultural labor with added recordkeeping duties to laboratory testing with significant amounts of office work, depending on the particular field the technician works in.

Duties

Specific duties of these technicians vary with their specialty.

Agricultural science technicians typically do the following:

  • Follow protocols to collect, prepare, analyze, and properly store crop or animal samples
  • Operate farm equipment and maintain agricultural production areas to conform to scientific testing parameters
  • Examine animal and crop specimens to determine the presence of diseases or other problems
  • Measure ingredients used in animal feed and other inputs
  • Prepare and operate laboratory testing equipment
  • Compile and analyze test results
  • Prepare charts, presentations, and reports describing test results

Food science technicians typically do the following:

  • Collect and prepare samples in accordance with established procedures
  • Test food, food additives, and food containers to ensure that they comply with established safety standards
  • Help food scientists with food research, development, and quality control
  • Analyze chemical properties of food to determine ingredients and formulas
  • Compile and analyze test results
  • Prepare charts, presentations, and reports describing test results
  • Prepare and maintain quantities of chemicals needed to perform laboratory tests
  • Maintain a safe, sterile laboratory environment

Agricultural and food science technicians often specialize by subject area, which includes animal health, farm machinery, fertilizers, agricultural chemicals, or processing technology. Duties can vary considerably by specialization.

Agricultural science technicians typically study ways to increase the productivity of crops and animals. These workers may keep detailed records, collect samples for analyses, ensure that samples meet proper safety and quality standards, and test crops and animals for disease or to confirm the results of scientific experiments.

Food science technicians who work in manufacturing investigate new production or processing techniques. They also ensure that products will be fit for distribution or are produced as efficiently as expected. Many food science technicians spend time inspecting foodstuffs, chemicals, and additives to determine whether they are safe and have the proper combination of ingredients.

Agricultural and food science technicians held about 24,200 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of agricultural and food science technicians were as follows:

Food manufacturing 32%
Professional, scientific, and technical services 20
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state 15
Support activities for agriculture and forestry 5
Crop production 2

Technicians work in a variety of settings, including laboratories, processing plants, farms and ranches, greenhouses, and offices. Technicians who work in processing plants and agricultural settings may face noise from processing and farming machinery, extreme temperatures, and odors from chemicals or animals. They may need to lift and carry objects, and be physically active for long periods of time.

Work Schedules

Agricultural and food science technicians typically work full time and have standard work schedules. Technicians may need to travel, including international travel.

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of agricultural and food science technicians.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2019

Agricultural and Food Scientists

Agricultural and food scientists research ways to improve the efficiency and safety of agricultural establishments and products. Bachelor’s degree $65,160

Agricultural Engineers

Agricultural engineers solve problems concerning power supplies, machine efficiency, the use of structures and facilities, pollution and environmental issues, and the storage and processing of agricultural products. Bachelor’s degree $80,720

Agricultural Workers

Agricultural workers maintain crops and tend to livestock. See How to Become One $25,840

Animal Care and Service Workers

Animal care and service workers attend to animals. High school diploma or equivalent $24,990

Biological Technicians

Biological technicians help biological and medical scientists conduct laboratory tests and experiments. Bachelor’s degree $45,860

Chemical Technicians

Chemical technicians use special instruments and techniques to assist chemists and chemical engineers. Associate’s degree $49,260

Conservation Scientists and Foresters

Conservation scientists and foresters manage the overall land quality of forests, parks, rangelands, and other natural resources. Bachelor’s degree $62,410

Environmental Science and Protection Technicians

Environmental science and protection technicians monitor the environment and investigate sources of pollution and contamination. Associate’s degree $46,540

Food and Tobacco Processing Workers

Food and tobacco processing workers operate equipment that mixes, cooks, or processes ingredients used in the manufacture of food and tobacco products. See How to Become One $30,200

Microbiologists

Microbiologists study microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, algae, fungi, and some types of parasites. Bachelor’s degree $75,650

For more information about agricultural and soil science occupations, visit

American Society of Agronomy

Future Farmers of America

Soil Science Society of America

For more information about food and animal science occupations, visit

American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists

American Society of Animal Science

Institute of Food Technologists

For information from related governmental agencies, visit

U.S. Department of Agriculture

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Smithsonian Institution

O*NET

Agricultural Technicians

Agricultural and Food Science Technicians

Food Science Technicians


Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Agricultural and Food Science Technicians,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/agricultural-and-food-science-technicians.htm (visited ).


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