Report: Agriculture graduates wanted to fill more ag jobs

Report: Agriculture graduates wanted to fill more ag jobs

About 60,000 ag jobs will be available annually in the U.S., but there's only 35,000 agriculture graduates to fill them

Want a job? Try agriculture.

A report from USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture and Purdue University, released Monday, has found tremendous demand for recent college graduates with a degree in agricultural programs.

Related: Hey, Ag Student! Here's How To Snag A Top Ag Job

An estimated 57,900 high-skilled job openings are available annually in the food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, and environment fields, the report found, but there are only about 35,400 new U.S. graduates with a bachelor's degree or higher in agriculture related fields, 22,500 short of the jobs available annually.

Plant Specialist Dustin McMahon hand pollinates genetically modified corn plants inside greenhouses housed on the roof of Monsanto agribusiness headquarters in St. Louis. (Photograph by Brent Stirton/Getty Images.)

"There is incredible opportunity for highly-skilled jobs in agriculture," USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press statement Monday. "Those receiving degrees in agricultural fields can expect to have ample career opportunities. Not only will those who study agriculture be likely to get well-paying jobs upon graduation, they will also have the satisfaction of working in a field that addresses some of the world's most pressing challenges."

The report projects almost half of the job opportunities will be in management and business. Another 27% will be in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics areas.

Jobs in food and biomaterials production will make up 15%, and 12% of the openings will be in education, communication, and governmental services.

The report also shows that women make up more than half of the food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, and environment higher education graduates in the United States.

U.S. ag job report highlights >>

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Agriculture jobs in the U.S. highlights:
Good opportunities expected. While most employers prefer to hire graduates of food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, and environment programs, graduates from these programs only fill about 60% of the expected annual openings. Even as enrollments in these programs increase and the job market becomes somewhat more competitive, good employment opportunities for the next five years are expected.

Uneven growth. Growth in job opportunities will be uneven. Employers in some areas will struggle to find enough graduates to fill jobs. In a few areas, employers will find an oversupply of job seekers.

E-commerce, marketing openings. Expect to see a strong employment market for e-commerce managers and marketing agents, ecosystem managers, agricultural science and business educators, crop advisors, and pest control specialists.

More STEM jobs. Expect the strongest job market for plant scientists, food scientists, sustainable biomaterials specialists, water resources scientists and engineers, precision agriculture specialists, and veterinarians.

The report is the eighth in a series of five-year projections initiated by USDA in 1980.

According to Marcos Fernandez, associate dean of Purdue Agriculture and director of its academic programs, the latest report might be the most comprehensive report of all.

Fernandez and his counterparts from across the country analyzed and discussed the data during a joint session of both land-grant and other colleges of agriculture directors of academic programs during a meeting of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities in Washington, D.C.

Related: Cornell Ag Dean Touts Agriculture's Cohesiveness and Impact

"Academic and non-academic leaders from throughout the country – over 70 in all – reviewed a draft of the report and extensively discussed the findings, trends and recommendations with one another and the report's authors," he said.

Read the report on agriculture jobs in the U.S., "Employment Opportunities for College Graduates in Food, Agriculture, Renewable Natural Resources, and the Environment, United States, 2015–2020."

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