Agricultural and food science technicians’ essential career information:
- 2012 median pay: $34,070
- 2010 number of jobs: 21,300
- Employment growth forecast, 2010-2020: 7 percent
- Entry-level education requirements: Associate’s degree
Agricultural and food science technicians; what they do:
Various marketing campaigns urge people to think about farmers when they enjoy fresh food, but in all fairness they should probably give a thought or two to agricultural and food science technicians. These men and women, working under the supervision of scientists, measure and analyze the quality of food and agricultural products.
An agricultural technician career involves setting up or maintaining lab equipment and collecting samples from crops or animals. An agricultural technician career also involves preparing specimens and recording data to help biologists or other scientists with experiments in the life sciences.
A food technologist career includes performing standardized qualitative and quantitative tests to determine food or beverage products’ physical or chemical properties.
Agricultural and Food Science Technicians duties:
- Preparing lab samples for analysis and ensuring they are stored, prepared and disposed of properly
- Using lab equipment, such as spectrometers, nitrogen determination apparatus, air samplers and centrifuges
- Planting seeds in specified areas and counting the resulting plants to see what percentage germinated
- Recording data pertaining to experiments, research and animal care
- Examining animals and specimens to determine the presence of disease or other problems
- Cleaning and sterilizing lab equipment
- Examining chemical or biological samples to identify cell structures or to locate bacteria or extraneous material, using a microscope
- Mixing, blending or cultivating ingredients to make reagents or food or beverages
- Measuring, testing or weighing containers to ensure that hardness, strength or dimensions meet specifications
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Agricultural and food science technicians job titles:
- Agricultural Tech
- Food Science Tech
- Seed analyst
- Agricultural research technician
- County extension agent
- Agricultural research technologist
Agricultural and Food Science Technicians Education, Certification and License Requirements
Agricultural and food science technologists generally need an Associate in Animal Science degree or an Associate in Food Science degree or an associate’s degree in a related field. Some schools offer an Associate in Agricultural Technology Food Science degree.
Many schools offer internships, cooperative education and other experiential programs for food technologists.
People who choose food science careers but have only a high school diploma usually undertake an extensive training program that can last a year or more.
Food technologists don’t need a license or certification.
Agricultural and food science technicians programs cover subjects such as:
- Writing and oral expression
Agricultural and Food Science Technicians Job Outlook
Forecast: 7 percent employment growth for agricultural and food science technicians from 2010 to 2020. Most of the jobs will be federal food inspections jobs due to increased food safety regulations and inspections.
Agricultural and Food Science Technicians Salary
- 2012 median annual wage: $34,070
- 2012, workers at the 75th percentile annual wage: $27,020
- 2012, workers at the 25th percentile annual wage: $43,080
Agricultural and Food Science Technicians Major Employers
- Colleges, universities and professional schools
- Scientific research and development services
- Dairy product manufacturing
- State government (OES Designation)
- Animal slaughtering and processing industry