How To Become An Agricultural Engineer

How To Become An Agricultural Engineer Agricultural engineers work with the production of crops, livestock and other agricultural products, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These professionals make sure that farmers use safe and efficient techniques to help their products thrive. Agricultural engineers may also research and develop new technology for the field.

Agricultural engineering is an important career path for those who are fascinated with nature and the environment. As an agricultural engineer, you will be able to find job opportunities across the world. You will also find that agricultural engineering salary is indeed very attractive. The following details all about the same…      

If you are considering enrolling in agricultural engineering schools, you would want to find out more about this field of study. The focus of agricultural engineering is on applying scientific knowledge and its related approaches to address current issues in the agricultural sector.

What Do Agricultural Engineers Do?

While agricultural engineers may develop specialties, most are involved in certain core activities. For example, most professionals design and test agricultural machinery, equipment, and parts. They may also design food storage structures and food processing plants. Some may design housing and environments for livestock.

Those interested in sustainability may provide advice on water quality and water pollution control issues. They may also plan and oversee land reclamation projects on farms. Others may be involved in agricultural waste-to-energy projects and carbon sequestration (absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into the soil, crops and trees).

How To Become An Agricultural Engineer?

Steps to become a Agriculture Engineer

Step 1: Pursue a Bachelor’s Degree

Employers often require agricultural engineers to have a bachelor’s degree from an engineering program that has been accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). An undergraduate program in agricultural engineering typically has coursework in calculus, physics with calculus applications, and biology. Agriculture-specific courses may include soil mechanics, environmental microclimatology, ocean and atmospheric dynamics, hydrology, geology, and soil physics.

The curriculum for a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering will generally have a focus on the technology used in agricultural processes. Several topics covered in programs like these include power and machinery systems, storage, ventilation and cooling systems, product processing, spraying techniques, irrigation and drainage management, and agribusiness. In addition to studying these topics, students might be expected to complete a capstone project their senior year, where they work on practical design projects with faculty or cooperating industry members.

Success Tips:

Many agricultural engineering programs offer cooperative education or internship programs in the agricultural industry. This can help provide the real-world experience required for state licensure. Internships usually take place during the course of a semester, and the employer usually evaluates students on a regular basis. Examples of internships include working in an agricultural equipment shop, working at a farm, or assisting with irrigation design.

Graduates of an undergraduate program in agricultural engineering might considering pursing a master’s degree. A graduate degree in agricultural engineering offers a chance to further specialize within the field. A master’s program is likely to focus on research, allowing the student the ability to show an understanding of a particular aspect of agricultural engineering, which may allow for greater employment opportunities within that specialty. A master’s degree also might allow an individual to work in more research-related positions in the field of agricultural engineering.

Step 2: Become Licensed

Agricultural engineers are generally required to obtain state licensing. Most states follow the licensing requirements set forth by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). The council designed a professional engineer (PE) licensing exam specifically for those specializing in agriculture. Requirements for the NCEES exam include graduation from a degree program accredited by ABET and work experience.

Step 3: Become Certified

A few states and professional organizations offer certification opportunities for engineers. The National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies offers certification in general engineering technology and several engineering specialties, such as geotechnical, land management, and industrial instrumentation. Requirements vary by certification type, but typically include an engineering degree, work experience, and professional endorsements.

Step 4: Gain Experience

Once agricultural engineers have garnered experience they can begin to take on more responsibility on more challenging projects, becoming supervisors and engineering managers. Additionally, they can also transfer their field experience and knowledge into an agricultural equipment sales position.

In summary, becoming an agricultural engineer typically requires earning at least a bachelor’s degree and getting licensed. Professional certification and experience could lead to advanced positions in agricultural engineering.

agricultural engineering salary

In 2014, the median pay was calculated at $71,730 salary for Agricultural Engineers; the average hourly rate for those paid by that method and the freelance consultant, was $34.48. It is a highly skilled job, but salary can vary by state and by sector. This is the kind of role that graduates and experts may work in the private sector, public or charitable areas. Engineering jobs pay the most, with a typical salary of around $91,000. The lowest average mean is in academia and research – in the region of $51,000.

Fewer than 20 states employ Agricultural Engineers with the largest number of personnel in California at 350 jobs; this is closely followed by Iowa with 240 employees. In California, the average mean wage is $87,410; the average hourly rate is $42.02.

StateTotal EmploymentBottom 25%Median SalaryTop 75%
North Carolina50$70,450$103,130$124,480
Puerto Rico50$36,770$44,150$61,720
South Dakota40$44,210$61,220$70,430

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations for Agricultural Engineers

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.

how long does it take to become an agricultural engineer

Degrees in agricultural engineering take about four years to complete, but students who want to add to their major or minor studies can take extend the journey. A master’s degree generally adds another 12-18 months—time well invested.

agricultural engineering subjects

Typical of all B.S. degrees, agricultural engineering studies begin with English, math, political science, chemistry, humanities, economics and other basics. Gradually, students are introduced to their majors, and this one begins in the freshman year with an introduction to agricultural systems management. Agriculture courses that follow can include:

  • Farm Tractors and Power Units
  • Systems Analysis in Agriculture
  • Operations Research and Systems Theory
  • Agricultural Machinery Management
  • Food Process Engineering Technology
  • Agri-Industrial Applications of Electricity
  • Water and Soil Management
  • Technology for Environmental and Natural Resource Engineering
  • Occupational Safety Management
  • Processing and Storage of Agricultural Products
  • Spatial Technology for Precision Agriculture
  • Management of Agricultural Systems
  • Geographic Information Systems for Resource Management
  • Advanced GIS Analysis for Natural Resource Management
  • Agricultural Electronics and Control
  • IT for Agricultural Systems

Important Qualities for Agricultural Engineers

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.

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