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Working As An Agricultural Engineer

  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment
  • Getting Information
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Mostly Sitting

  • $73,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Agricultural Engineer Do

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

Duties

Agricultural engineers typically do the following:

  • Use computer software to design equipment, systems, or structures
  • Modify environmental factors that affect animal or crop production, such as airflow in a barn or runoff patterns on a field
  • Test equipment to ensure its safety and reliability
  • Oversee construction and production operations
  • Plan and work together with clients, contractors, consultants, and other engineers to ensure effective and desirable outcomes

Agricultural engineers work in farming, including aquaculture (farming of seafood), forestry, and food processing. They work on a wide variety of projects. For example, some agricultural engineers work to develop climate control systems that increase the comfort and productivity of livestock whereas others work to increase the storage capacity and efficiency of refrigeration. Many agricultural engineers attempt to develop better solutions for animal waste disposal. Those with computer programing skills work to integrate artificial intelligence and geospatial systems into agriculture. For example, they work to improve efficiency in fertilizer application or to automate harvesting systems.

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How To Become An Agricultural Engineer

Agricultural engineers must have a bachelor’s degree, preferably in agricultural engineering or biological engineering.

Education

Students who are interested in studying agricultural engineering will benefit from taking high school courses in mathematics and sciences. University students take courses in advanced calculus, physics, biology, and chemistry. They also may take courses in business, public policy, and economics.

Entry-level jobs in agricultural engineering require a bachelor’s degree. Bachelor’s degree programs in agricultural engineering or biological engineering typically include significant hands-on components in areas such as science, mathematics, and engineering principles. Most colleges and universities encourage students to gain practical experience through projects such as participating in engineering competitions in which teams of students design equipment and attempt to solve real problems.

ABET accredits programs in agricultural engineering.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Agricultural engineers may design systems that are part of a larger agricultural or environmental system. They must be able to analyze the needs of complex systems that involve workers, machinery and equipment, and the environment.

Communication skills. Agricultural engineers must understand the needs of clients, workers, and others working on a project. Furthermore, they must be able to communicate their thoughts about systems and about solutions to any problems they have been working on.

Math skills. Agricultural engineers use calculus, trigonometry, and other advanced mathematical disciplines for analysis, design, and troubleshooting.

Problem-solving skills. Agricultural engineers’ main role is to solve problems found in agricultural production. Goals may include designing safer equipment for food processing or reducing erosion. To solve these problems, agricultural engineers must be able to creatively apply the principles of engineering.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensure is not required for entry-level positions as an agricultural engineer. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one’s career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience, typically at least 4 years
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

The initial FE exam can be taken after earning a bachelor’s degree. Engineers who pass this exam commonly are called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After meeting work experience requirements, EITs and EIs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering.

Each state issues its own licenses. Most states recognize licensure from other states, as long as the licensing state’s requirements meet or exceed their own licensure requirements. Several states require continuing education for engineers to keep their licenses.

Advancement

New engineers usually work under the supervision of experienced engineers. As they gain knowledge and experience, beginning engineers move to more difficult projects and increase their independence in developing designs, solving problems, and making decisions.

With experience, agricultural engineers may advance to supervise a team of engineers and technicians. Some advance to become engineering managers. Agricultural engineers who go into sales use their engineering background to discuss a product’s technical aspects with potential buyers and to help in product planning, installation, and use. For more information, see the profiles on architectural and engineering managers and sales engineers.

Engineers who have a master’s degree or a Ph.D. are more likely to be involved in research and development activities, and may become postsecondary teachers.

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Average Yearly Salary
$73,000
Show Salaries
$51,000
Min 10%
$73,000
Median 50%
$73,000
Median 50%
$73,000
Median 50%
$73,000
Median 50%
$73,000
Median 50%
$73,000
Median 50%
$73,000
Median 50%
$102,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
USDA
Highest Paying City
Mountain View, CA
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
5.1 years
How much does an Agricultural Engineer make at top companies?
The national average salary for an Agricultural Engineer in the United States is $73,215 per year or $35 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $52,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $103,000.

The largest raises come from changing jobs.

See what's out there.

Real Agricultural Engineer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Agricultural Engineer Musco Olive Products, Inc. Sep 30, 2016 $200,000
Agricultural Engineer AAKO, Inc. Sep 14, 2013 $183,862
Agricultural Engineer Pacific Process Us Incorporated Sep 30, 2015 $156,000
Agricultural Engineer Pacific Process Us Incorporated Oct 01, 2012 $156,000
Agricultural Engineer Musco Olive Products, Inc. Sep 30, 2013 $120,000
Agricultural Engineer Musco Family Olive Co. Sep 30, 2013 $120,000
Agricultural Engineer Westerlay Orchids, LP Jan 01, 2014 $108,600
Senior Agronomist/Agricultural Engineer Formation Environmental LLC Mar 16, 2015 $107,355
Senior Agronomist/Agricultural Engineer Formation Environmental LLC Aug 20, 2015 $107,000
Agricultural Engineer-Wine Maker Georis Winery Sep 15, 2012 $105,096
Agricultural Engineer California Vegetable Specialties, Inc. Oct 03, 2013 $104,350 -
$156,525
Agricultural Engineer R & C Berndt, Inc. Jan 07, 2016 $100,000
Agricultural Engineers Clemson University Jun 27, 2013 $95,000
Agricultural Engineers The Plug Connection, Inc. Apr 30, 2014 $90,000
Agricultural Engineers Five Diamond Cold Storage Oct 01, 2015 $70,000
Agricultural Engineer Aqua Terra Consultants Sep 01, 2011 $69,700
Agriculture Engineer Intelliair LLC Dec 01, 2011 $68,806
Agricultural Engineer USDA Agricultural Research Service Jun 20, 2011 $67,613 -
$73,396
Agricultural Engineer McCahon Floral Oct 01, 2014 $67,306 -
$86,611
Agricultural Engineer Jersey Farm Produce Inc. Sep 15, 2015 $66,784
Agricultural Engineer Jersey Farm Produce Inc. Sep 15, 2012 $66,784
Agricultural Engineers Five Diamond Cold Storage Inc. Jan 10, 2016 $65,000
Agricultural Engineer Daren E. Gee Oct 01, 2011 $61,796
Agricultural Engineers Jinon Corporation DBA Nijiya Market May 13, 2013 $61,464
Agricultural Engineer USDA-Agricultural Research Service Feb 01, 2011 $61,234
Agricultural Engineer Yamamura Farm Oct 01, 2011 $61,128
Agricultural Engineer Yamamura Farm Sep 30, 2011 $61,128
Agricultural Engineer Five Diamond Cold Storage Inc. Jul 30, 2016 $61,000
Agricultural Engineer Yamamura Farm Sep 30, 2011 $60,923
Agricultural Engineer Yamamura Farm Sep 22, 2011 $60,923

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Top Skills for An Agricultural Engineer

  1. Irrigation Systems
  2. CAD
  3. Agricultural Machinery
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Designed and developed irrigation systems.
  • Applied Cad technology in designing agricultural technologies.
  • Repaired and maintained Tractors, Combine Harvesters and General Agricultural Machinery.
  • Prevented large-scale plant diseases, weeds and pests by applying pesticides in fields using an aircraft sprayer.
  • Queried databases to seek out regulatory information on select agricultural products.

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Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Agricultural Engineers

  1. Washington
  2. Oregon
  3. Alaska
  4. New Hampshire
  5. Idaho
  6. Nevada
  7. Maine
  8. Pennsylvania
  9. California
  10. Massachusetts
  • (340 jobs)
  • (131 jobs)
  • (16 jobs)
  • (104 jobs)
  • (30 jobs)
  • (65 jobs)
  • (30 jobs)
  • (300 jobs)
  • (1,697 jobs)
  • (316 jobs)

Agricultural Engineer Demographics

Gender

Male

73.5%

Female

19.8%

Unknown

6.8%
Ethnicity

White

45.6%

Unknown

17.5%

Hispanic or Latino

16.8%

Asian

11.9%

Black or African American

8.2%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

35.7%

Arabic

28.6%

French

21.4%

German

7.1%

Dutch

7.1%
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Agricultural Engineer Education

Schools

California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo

11.1%

University of Florida

7.4%

North Dakota State University -

7.4%

University of Illinois at Chicago

7.4%

Michigan State University

7.4%

Utah State University

7.4%

Cairn University

3.7%

New York City College of Technology of the City University of New York

3.7%

University of California - Santa Barbara

3.7%

Rogue Community College

3.7%

Washington State University

3.7%

BioHealth College

3.7%

Lehigh University

3.7%

Liberty University

3.7%

University of the Sciences

3.7%

New York University

3.7%

Northeastern Illinois University

3.7%

University of the District of Columbia

3.7%

North Carolina State University

3.7%

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

3.7%
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Majors

Agricultural Engineering

27.8%

Plant Sciences

9.7%

Agriculture

8.3%

Agricultural Operation And Science

6.9%

Biological Engineering

5.6%

Chemistry

4.2%

Civil Engineering

4.2%

Engineering

4.2%

Natural Resources Management

2.8%

Public Health

2.8%

Mechanical Engineering

2.8%

Environmental Science

2.8%

Chemical Engineering

2.8%

English

2.8%

Business

2.8%

Agricultural Business

2.8%

Environmental Engineering

2.8%

Science, Technology, And Society

1.4%

Genetics

1.4%

Urban Planning

1.4%
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Degrees

Bachelors

43.0%

Masters

37.2%

Diploma

8.1%

Certificate

4.7%

Doctorate

3.5%

High School Diploma

2.3%

Associate

1.2%
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Updated May 18, 2020