Agricultural technicians assist scientists with experiments to increase the health and productivity of crops and agricultural animals. They may cultivate crops within specific parameters, measure and distribute animal feed, and collect samples for testing. Agricultural technicians keep detailed records, analyse test results and present findings to senior scientific staff.
Duties and responsibilities
- Set up laboratory or field equipment necessary for on-site testing
- Collect and germinate seeds, and cultivate plant cuttings under specific laboratory conditions
- Supervise and train agricultural staff in proper scientific procedures
- Participate in crop production, including tilling, weeding and harvest, within specified parameters
- Conduct studies on fertiliser application, pest control, plant disease and other related issues
- Measure ingredients and distribute feed to agricultural animals
- Inspect animals and plants for signs of injury or disease
- Collect animal or crop samples for analysis and testing, following proper safety and storage protocols
- Operate a range of lab equipment, including spectrometers, air samplers and centrifuges
- Operate farm equipment, including tractors, ploughs, combines and sprayers
- Record and analyse all data
- Create reports, charts and other materials to present data and test results to senior scientific staff
Skills and knowledge
AVERAGE WORKING HOURS
May include weekend hours
Most agricultural technicians have a set full-time schedule, though your rotation may include hours on the weekend. Some technicians work largely indoors in laboratories, processing plants and offices. Others may travel and spend a significant time outdoors on farms or ranches.
Duties vary according to the specific technician role. You may have to deal with loud machinery noise, extreme temperatures and animal or chemical odours. Some agricultural technician jobs may also require sufficient physical strength and stamina to complete farm or ranch work.
Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.
Associate's degree in crop science or similar
Most agricultural technicians have an associate's or bachelor's degree in biology, crop or animal science, or a related field. Those interested in the field should focus their high school studies on maths and science classes when possible. Agricultural workers with a high school diploma may use their relevant experience to get an entry-level position.
Students at all levels can take advantage of cooperative programmes to gain work experience. This includes internships and other career pathways through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
All agricultural technicians will receive on-the-job training for their specific role. This includes health and safety training specified by federal regulations.
Agricultural technicians who earn their bachelor's degree will have access to more lucrative positions. Gaining experience in lab and field work can lead to a variety of other related careers, including agricultural scientist, ranch or farm manager, and agricultural engineers.