Agricultural Engineers

What Agricultural Engineers Do

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozIUJsnBDLY

Work Environment

Agricultural engineers work mostly in offices, but may spend time traveling to agricultural settings. Agricultural engineers typically work full time.

How to Become an Agricultural Engineer

Agricultural engineers must have a bachelor’s degree, preferably in agricultural engineering or biological engineering.

Pay

The median annual wage for agricultural engineers was $80,720 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

Employment of agricultural engineers is projected to grow 2 percent from 2019 to 2029, slower than the average for all occupations. The need to increase the efficiency of agricultural production systems and to reduce environmental damage should maintain demand for these workers.

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.

Agricultural engineers held about 1,700 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of agricultural engineers were as follows:

Federal government, excluding postal service 20%
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state 12
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 9
Engineering services 6

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.

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.

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 2019

Agricultural and Food Science Technicians

Agricultural and food science technicians assist agricultural and food scientists.

Associate’s degree $41,230

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

Architectural and Engineering Managers

Architectural and engineering managers plan, direct, and coordinate activities in architectural and engineering companies.

Bachelor’s degree $144,830

Civil engineers

Civil Engineers

Civil engineers design, build, and supervise infrastructure projects and systems. 

Bachelor’s degree $87,060

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 engineers

Environmental Engineers

Environmental engineers use the principles of engineering, soil science, biology, and chemistry to develop solutions to environmental problems.

Bachelor’s degree $88,860

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 $71,160

Hydrologists

Hydrologists

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

Bachelor’s degree $81,270

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 $88,020

Mechanical engineers

Mechanical Engineers

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

Bachelor’s degree $88,430

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

O*NET

Agricultural Engineers


Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Agricultural Engineers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/agricultural-engineers.htm (visited ).