Is an agricultural degree worth it? This is a question commonly asked online lately. In recent years, the demand for a master or bachelor’s degree in agriculture has increased. While this field may have some disadvantages, it can be very profitable. It typically takes four years and 120 credit hours to obtain this degree however, some institutions may require as many as 180 hours.
Many college students and job seekers are unaware that the agriculture business is a multibillion-dollar industry with high paying opportunities. This industry is in desperate need of new talent and is constantly evolving. Obtaining an agriculture degree and working in this field is incredibly advantageous. Change is needed because the way we’ve been growing our food is not sustainable. Keeping these two things in mind, you can decide if an agricultural degree worth it especially long term.
In this article, you will learn some advantages of having an agriculture degree to help you determine if it is worth it for you or not.
5 Disadvantages of a Degree in Agriculture
- Corporations Control Agriculture
It is so unfortunate that a handful of large corporations have the ability and power to control the agricultural industry and have political influences over enforcement of the rules set forth by our government. Corporate control of agriculture reduces payments to farmers and has an overall negative impact. The soil and water needed to withstand food production as well as public health is in danger because of how these corporations operate.
- Industry Focuses on Profit
Instead of the focus of agriculture being on safe healthy products, it is on cash! The concentration has turned to highly profitable cash crops and therefore we have more insecurities as far as healthy foods. Making food production less important and focusing on volume and cash is a very unhealthy approach.
- Waste of Money
Many have said that a degree agriculture is one of the top five useless majors a student can acquire. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) say that this degree is a waste of money. Three of the top five useless majors were agricultural jobs.
The strategies and methods currently being used in agriculture today are not sustainable. This puts a lot of pressure on individuals with this degree. They must be creative and be able to play a very important role in preventing a world crisis. This is not only challenging, but also stressful.
One of the leading sources of pollution in multiple countries including the United States is agriculture. In this field there are several fertilizers, pesticides and toxic farm chemicals that poison our marine ecosystems, fresh air and the soil we use to grow plants. These harmful chemicals can remain in our environment for decades or generations.
7 Advantages of a Degree in Agriculture
- Work With Innovative Technologies
Agriculture has progressed immensely since the days when people manually plough and be concerned if the weather was going to be kind to the crops. Now there are opportunities to work in modern greenhouses, use the latest technology, autonomous tractors as well as drones. We need technology to ensure food can be distributed and that people all over the world have access to food. If you are a “techie” and are interested in agriculture, this type of degree would be a good fit for you.
A degree in agriculture can give you a variety of jobs to choose from and you do not have to have a general degree. You can get a degree where you specialize or focus on a specific area such as agroecology, plant, animal or food sciences, sustainable agriculture, horticulture, agricultural management or organic food production.
- Growing Organic Crops Improves Health
At this point, most people are aware that natural organic food is healthy for our bodies and the environment however, some are slow to make the change. This could be because organic food is usually more expensive, there are a lot of false claims and some people just are not in the habit of looking for organic food. Obtaining a degree in agriculture can teach you how to grow organic crops and be able to offer nutritious, tasty and healthy food that may improve a person’s wellbeing and their overall health. Our ancestors and many elderly people grew their own food and they used it to heal various ailments. This wasn’t as long ago as you might think. Children that were born in the 50s and 60s remember their parents have vegetable gardens, grape vines and fruit trees in their own back yards. We need to go back to our roots and learn how to grow good, healthy food.
- Agriculture Jobs Pay Well
We need more people with degrees in this field because of the way we live and what we have done to our land. This is a vital industry in our society and it pays well. Here are a few popular agriculture jobs and their salaries: farmer 41,900, horticulturists 43,650, agricultural inspector 42,200, fish farm manager 76,700 soil scientists 58,1650, manager 49,785 agricultural consultant 81,335. Are you aware that some construction materials, fabrics and paper as well as food are products of agriculture? Most people just think of fruits, vegetables and plants but there is lot more to agriculture.
- Help The World Avoid the Next Food/Supply Crisis
During the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, we only got a glimpse of what it is like not to have certain food or supplies. Do you remember in 2020 people were literally fighting over toilet paper, Clorox wipes and Lysol? Those were just a few items that were out of stock until supply caught up with demand. We have been warned by the UN United Nations that action is needed in order to prevent another food crisis due to climate change such as drought, poor crops and the current agricultural methods and strategies are not sustainable. The consumption up food continues to rise and the production cannot keep up. As an agriculturist you can help with agricultural policies, the redistribution of food or learn to manage your own farm in order to help supply local communities and avoid food being imported in. There are so many ways that you can contribute to helping the world avoid the next food crisis when you obtain an agricultural degree. The population will increase to near 9.6 billion in the next 35 years and trust me, that’s a lot of mouths to feed.
- Work Anywhere in The World
You are not limited to working in a particular state or country because agriculture is everywhere and there are crops grown in every state in the United States. This is not just limited to rural areas. People are even beginning to grow food on their patio and porch. Degrees and careers in agriculture are in great demand all over the world. According to a study done in 2018 by the USDA the average age of the workforce in all agriculture occupations is around 40 years old. When they compared this to 2012 the average age was 55.9 years old. It is great that the workforce is becoming younger because youthful minds and fresh ideas are needed in order to solve today’s problems in agriculture.
- Job Security
Unlike many degrees, with a degree in the field of agriculture, there is no need to worry about job security because as long as people need to eat, agricultural will be around. You will always be able to find the next opportunity and there are a wide range of jobs from everything from organic crop grower, IT, food safety, marketing and working with drones that are related to agriculture. You can find and choose your own career path as an agricultural graduate whether it is education, management or inspector. The agriculture field has very low unemployment rates. Georgetown University center on education and workforce reported that agriculture and natural resources are among the fields with the lowest unemployment rates which are lower than business, engineering, law and several others.
It could definitely be worth it to have a degree in agriculture. It isn’t necessary to have a degree in order to work in agriculture however, it will provide many advantages plus increased pay. The demand continues to rise for individuals with degrees in this field and there is a shortage of graduates with a degree in agriculture.