Bureau of Labor Statistics

Agricultural and Food Science Technicians

agricultural and food science technicians image
Agricultural and food science technicians may apply new agricultural chemicals to plants and perform tests to verify their effects.
Quick Facts: Agricultural and Food Science Technicians
2020 Median Pay $41,970 per year
$20.18 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Associate's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2020 26,600
Job Outlook, 2020-30 8% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2020-30 2,100

Summary

What Agricultural and Food Science Technicians Do

Agricultural and food science technicians assist agricultural and food scientists.

Work Environment

Agricultural and food science technicians work in laboratories, processing plants, farms and ranches, greenhouses, and offices.

How to Become an Agricultural or Food Science Technician

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.  

Pay

The median annual wage for agricultural and food science technicians was $41,970 in May 2020.

Job Outlook

Employment of agricultural and food science technicians is projected to grow 8 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 3,700 openings for agricultural and food science technicians are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for agricultural and food science technicians.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of agricultural and food science technicians with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about agricultural and food science technicians by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Agricultural and Food Science Technicians Do

Agricultural and food science technicians
Agricultural and food science technicians may keep detailed records and collect samples for analyses.

Agricultural and food science technicians assist agricultural and food scientists by performing duties such as measuring and analyzing the quality of food and agricultural products. Duties range from performing agricultural labor with added recordkeeping duties to laboratory testing with significant amounts of office work, depending on the particular field the technician works in.

Duties

Specific duties of these technicians vary with their specialty.

Agricultural science technicians typically do the following:

  • Follow protocols to collect, prepare, analyze, and properly store crop or animal samples
  • Operate farm equipment and maintain agricultural production areas to conform to scientific testing parameters
  • Examine animal and crop specimens to determine the presence of diseases or other problems
  • Measure ingredients used in animal feed and other inputs
  • Prepare and operate laboratory testing equipment
  • Compile and analyze test results
  • Prepare charts, presentations, and reports describing test results

Food science technicians typically do the following:

  • Collect and prepare samples in accordance with established procedures
  • Test food, food additives, and food containers to ensure that they comply with established safety standards
  • Help food scientists with food research, development, and quality control
  • Analyze chemical properties of food to determine ingredients and formulas
  • Compile and analyze test results
  • Prepare charts, presentations, and reports describing test results
  • Prepare and maintain quantities of chemicals needed to perform laboratory tests
  • Maintain a safe, sterile laboratory environment

Agricultural and food science technicians often specialize by subject area, which includes animal health, farm machinery, fertilizers, agricultural chemicals, or processing technology. Duties can vary considerably by specialization.

Agricultural science technicians typically study ways to increase the productivity of crops and animals. These workers may keep detailed records, collect samples for analyses, ensure that samples meet proper safety and quality standards, and test crops and animals for disease or to confirm the results of scientific experiments.

Food science technicians who work in manufacturing investigate new production or processing techniques. They also ensure that products will be fit for distribution or are produced as efficiently as expected. Many food science technicians spend time inspecting foodstuffs, chemicals, and additives to determine whether they are safe and have the proper combination of ingredients.

Work Environment

Agricultural and food science technicians
Agricultural and food science technicians work on farms and ranches, in greenhouses, offices, laboratories, and processing plants.

Agricultural and food science technicians held about 26,600 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of agricultural and food science technicians were as follows:

Food manufacturing 32%
Crop production 18
Professional, scientific, and technical services 17
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state 12
Support activities for agriculture and forestry 2

Technicians work in a variety of settings, including laboratories, processing plants, farms and ranches, greenhouses, and offices. Technicians who work in processing plants and agricultural settings may face noise from processing and farming machinery, extreme temperatures, and odors from chemicals or animals. They may need to lift and carry objects, and be physically active for long periods of time.

Work Schedules

Agricultural and food science technicians typically work full time and have standard work schedules. Technicians may need to travel, including international travel.

How to Become an Agricultural or Food Science Technician

Agricultural and food science technicians
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. 

Education

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.

Training

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.

Important Qualities

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.

Pay

Agricultural and Food Science Technicians

Median annual wages, May 2020

Life, physical, and social science technicians

$48,440

Agricultural and food science technicians

$41,970

Total, all occupations

$41,950

 

The median annual wage for agricultural and food science technicians was $41,970 in May 2020. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $28,650, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $66,620.

In May 2020, the median annual wages for agricultural and food science technicians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Food manufacturing $42,910
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state 40,800
Professional, scientific, and technical services 39,820

Agricultural and food science technicians typically work full time and have standard work schedules. Technicians may need to travel, including international travel.

Job Outlook

Agricultural and Food Science Technicians

Percent change in employment, projected 2020-30

Agricultural and food science technicians

8%

Total, all occupations

8%

Life, physical, and social science technicians

7%

 

Employment of agricultural and food science technicians is projected to grow 8 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 3,700 openings for agricultural and food science technicians are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Demand will continue for agricultural research into areas such as the effects of population growth, increased demand for water resources, harm from pests and pathogens, changes in climate and weather patterns, and demand for agricultural products, such as biofuels.

Agricultural science technicians will be needed to assist agricultural and food scientists in investigating and improving the diets, living conditions, and even genetic makeup of livestock. Food science technicians will assist scientists to improve food-processing techniques, ensuring that products are safe, waste is limited, and food is shipped efficiently. Technicians also will continue to assist in studies that analyze soil composition and soil improvement techniques, find uses for agricultural byproducts, and selectively breed crops to resist pests and disease or to improve taste.

Employment projections data for agricultural and food science technicians, 2020-30

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Occupational Title

Agricultural and food science technicians

SOC Code19-4010
Employment, 202026,600
Projected Employment, 203028,700
Percent Change, 2020-308
Numeric Change, 2020-302,100
Employment by IndustryGet data

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of agricultural and food science technicians.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2020 MEDIAN PAY
Agricultural and food scientists Agricultural and Food Scientists

Agricultural and food scientists research ways to improve the efficiency and safety of agricultural establishments and products.

Bachelor's degree $68,830
Agricultural engineers Agricultural Engineers

Agricultural engineers solve problems concerning power supplies, machine efficiency, the use of structures and facilities, pollution and environmental issues, and the storage and processing of agricultural products.

Bachelor's degree $84,410
Agricultural workers Agricultural Workers

Agricultural workers maintain crops and tend livestock.

See How to Become One $28,900
Animal care and service workers Animal Care and Service Workers

Animal care and service workers attend to or train animals.

High school diploma or equivalent $26,370
Biological technicians Biological Technicians

Biological technicians help biological and medical scientists conduct laboratory tests and experiments.

Bachelor's degree $46,340
Chemical technicians Chemical Technicians

Chemical technicians use special instruments and techniques to assist chemists and chemical engineers.

Associate's degree $49,820
Conservation scientists and foresters Conservation Scientists and Foresters

Conservation scientists and foresters manage the overall land quality of forests, parks, rangelands, and other natural resources.

Bachelor's degree $64,010
Environmental science and protection technicians Environmental Science and Protection Technicians

Environmental science and protection technicians monitor the environment and investigate sources of pollution and contamination.

Associate's degree $46,850
Food and tobacco processing workers Food and Tobacco Processing Workers

Food and tobacco processing workers operate equipment that mixes, cooks, or processes ingredients used in the manufacture of food and tobacco products.

See How to Become One $31,950
Microbiologists Microbiologists

Microbiologists study microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, algae, fungi, and some types of parasites.

Bachelor's degree $84,400

Contacts for More Info

For more information about agricultural and soil science occupations, visit

American Society of Agronomy

Future Farmers of America

Soil Science Society of America

For more information about food and animal science occupations, visit

American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists

American Society of Animal Science

Institute of Food Technologists

For information from related governmental agencies, visit

U.S. Department of Agriculture

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Smithsonian Institution

O*NET

Agricultural Technicians

Food Science Technicians

Precision Agriculture Technicians

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Agricultural and Food Science Technicians,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/agricultural-and-food-science-technicians.htm (visited October 05, 2021).

Telephone: 1-202-691-5700 www.bls.gov/ooh Contact OOH

View this page on regular www.bls.gov

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