If you thought a career in agriculture was just for farmers and ranchers, think again. Hundreds of diverse careers exist in agriculture, and contrary to popular belief, few involve driving a tractor.
You can discover your future career in agriculture with the help of a new online career portal, AgExplorer.com. With the click of a button, the website allows you to learn about 235 unique careers in agriculture, watch videos, find jobs that match your interests and even take virtual field trips. Career profiles include a job description, typical responsibilities, job outlook, education requirements, average salary, link to a college/university database and jobs currently available.
AgExplorer.com is a joint project launched by the National FFA Organization, Discovery Education and AgCareers.com.
“Introducing young people to the wide variety of STEM career paths that power the agriculture industry is so important,” says Lori McFarling, senior vice president for Discovery Education. “Discovery Education is proud to partner with the National FFA Organization to introduce AgExplorer, a dynamic digital program that connects academic skills and interests to real-world careers, helping students find their future in agriculture.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates agriculture will have more than 60,000 job openings annually. Highly skilled graduates will be needed to fill many of them.
“So often, students are told if they want to work in agriculture, they need to be a farmer or a rancher. But those of us in the industry know agriculture is so much more,” says Haley Hampton, senior educational consultant in the National FFA Organization’s Leadership, Education, Assessment & Development Division. “Farmers and ranchers are the backbone of agriculture, but to get the food from the farm to the table, it takes a wide range of businesses and careers. There are careers in agriculture beyond what most people see. Students can have a fulfilling career in agriculture, whether they want to work in business, politics, manufacturing, environmental management, or in the plant, animal and food sciences.”
In 2015, AgCareers.com had nearly 78,000 jobs posted on its website in the United States alone – further proof that agricultural careers are plentiful.
“Our team at AgCareers.com hopes the AgExplorer website broadens students’ awareness of the wide variety of careers we have available in our industry. Then students can connect to real-time careers on our website for additional exploration,” says Ashley Collins, AgCareers.com education and marketing manager. “We need to get awareness of these career opportunities to more young people so they can plan their professional path in agriculture.
I hope students are surprised that there are so many careers profiled. This industry is so broad, there is literally something for everyone when you consider all the allied careers that exist.”
Most students don’t think careers such as graphic designers, social media strategists, electricians and merchandisers are agricultural careers. But ag businesses need people with all those skills and more to be successful.
“When a person already has an understanding of what agriculture is, it makes it much easier for them to do those jobs for an agricultural business,” Hampton explains. “Because there aren’t enough students graduating college with degrees related to agricultural businesses have to hire people without agricultural knowledge to fill these careers. It takes extra training to get those individuals to a level where they can do the job competently.”
If you have a specific interest, such as horses, law, bees or teaching, you can search AgExplorer.com to find related careers. If you aren’t sure what you’d like to do, you can complete the Career Finder assessment, a short 13-question survey that helps match your interests to careers in agriculture.
“We have already received feedback from users, and it has been overwhelmingly positive,” Hampton says. “Before AgExplorer, there wasn’t an agricultural career exploration website that had a national focus, so AgExplorer is making it easier for people everywhere to learn about careers in agriculture. We hope students will see they can be involved in agriculture and still have their dream career.”
– Jessica Mozo