How to Become an Agricultural or Food Science Technician
Agricultural and food science technicians conduct a variety of observations and on-site measurements.
Agricultural and food science technicians typically need an associate’s degree in biology, chemistry, crop or animal science, or a related field. Some positions require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree, and others a high school diploma or equivalent plus related work experience.
Students interested in a career as an agricultural or food science technician should take as many high school science and math classes as possible. A solid background in applied chemistry, biology, physics, math, and statistics is important. Knowledge of how to use spreadsheets and databases also may be necessary.
Agricultural and food science technicians typically need an associate’s degree in biology, chemistry, crop or animal science, or a related field from an accredited college or university. Some agricultural and food science technician positions require a bachelor’s degree.
Students may take courses in biology, chemistry, plant or animal science, and agricultural engineering as part of their programs. Programs include technical instruction and hands-on experience. Many schools offer internships, cooperative-education, and other programs designed to provide practical experience and enhance employment prospects.
Some agricultural and food science technicians successfully enter the occupation with a high school diploma or equivalent, but they typically need related work experience and on-the-job training that may last a year or more.
Agricultural and food science technicians typically undergo on-the-job training. Various federal government regulations outline the types of training needed for technicians, which varies by work environment and specific job requirements. Training may cover topics such as production techniques, personal hygiene, and sanitation procedures.
Analytical skills. Agricultural and food science technicians must conduct a variety of observations and on-site measurements, all of which require precision, accuracy, and math skills.
Communication skills. Agricultural and food science technicians must understand and give clear instructions, keep detailed records, and, occasionally, write reports.
Critical-thinking skills. Agricultural and food science technicians reach conclusions through sound reasoning and judgment. They determine how to improve food quality and must test products for a variety of safety standards.
Interpersonal skills. Agricultural and food science technicians need to work well with others. They may supervise agricultural and food processing workers and receive instruction from scientists or specialists, so effective communication is critical.
Physical stamina. Agricultural and food science technicians who work in manufacturing or agricultural settings may need to stand for long periods, lift objects, and generally perform physical labor.
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
Workers who enter the occupation with only a high school diploma or equivalent often must have experience in a related occupation during which they develop their knowledge of agriculture or manufacturing processes. These related occupations include food and tobacco processing workers and agricultural workers.