Graduates in Ag and Related Fields See Improved Job Prospects

Graduates in Ag and Related Fields See Improved Job Prospects

It is expected that 5% more college graduates in agriculture and related fields will be needed over next five years compared to jobs available in 2005-2010.

Employment opportunities for college graduates earning degrees in agriculture and related fields will improve over the next five years, says a new USDA report. Mike Gaul, career services director for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University, was part of the committee that helped prepare the report. The USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture and Purdue University released the report this month.

"All of us on the committee feel like we've got a great story to tell. Looking ahead, it's great news for students who are in college now and high school students who are looking at potential careers," says Gaul. The outlook projects that 5% more college graduates in ag and related academic fields will be needed over the next five years compared to the jobs available from 2005-10.

Retirements of boomers are creating jobs for new graduates

Retirements among the baby boomer generation are creating more job opportunities for graduates. Other factors include consumer demand for nutritious foods; energy and environmental issues and policies; and global trends in populations, income and food consumption. The ag, food and renewable natural resources sectors of the U.S. economy will generate an estimated 54,400 jobs each year for those with bachelors or higher degrees in food, renewable energy and environmental specialties between 2010 and 2015, the report says.

The strongest demand is for graduates in science, technology engineering and mathematics specialties areas related to agriculture, forestry and environmental science. The majority of the new jobs, 74%, will be in business and science occupations; 15% in agriculture and forestry production; and 11% in education, communication and governmental services.

Majority of new jobs will be in business and science occupations

In Iowa, undergraduate enrollment in the ISU College of Ag and Life Sciences this fall is expected to increase from last fall when it exceeded 3,000 for the first time in 30 years.

Gaul says the most recent survey of graduates (those earning their bachelor's degrees in fall semester 2008 to summer 2009) found that 98.9% were employed, furthering their education or serving in the military. Of those 72.6% were employed, an impressive showing considering the economy, and 25.9% were pursuing veterinary school and graduate education opportunities.

A summary of the report is available at

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