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Working as an Agricultural Research Technician

What Does an Agricultural Research Technician Do

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 typical 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. Some popular subjects are animal health, farm machinery, fertilizers, agricultural chemicals, and processing technology. Duties can vary considerably with the specialization, because work settings may vary.

Agricultural science technicians who work in private industry typically focus on increasing 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 otherwise confirm the results of scientific experiments.

Food science technicians who work in private industry typically evaluate food and crops while investigating 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.

How To Become an Agricultural Research Technician

Agricultural and food science technicians typically need an associate’s degree in biology, chemistry, crop or animal science, or a related field. Many positions require a bachelor’s degree. For those positions requiring only a high school diploma, technicians typically need to have previous work experience. Technicians often receive on-the-job training that may cover topics such as production techniques, personal hygiene, and sanitation procedures.

Education

Students interested in this occupation 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. Many agricultural and food science technician positions require a bachelor’s degree. While in college, prospective technicians learn through a combination of technical instruction and hands-on experiences, such as internships.

Some agricultural and food science technicians successfully enter the occupation with a high school diploma but typically need related work experience and on-the-job training that may last a year or more. 

A background in the biological or chemical sciences is important for most agricultural and food science technicians. Students may find it helpful to take courses in biology, chemistry, plant or animal science, and agricultural engineering as part of their programs. Many schools offer internships, cooperative-education, and other programs designed to provide hands-on experience and enhance employment prospects.

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 according to the 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 and accuracy.

Communication skills. Agricultural and food science technicians must be able to 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 science 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 often must have years of experience in a related occupation during which they develop their knowledge of agriculture or manufacturing processes. For more information, see the profiles on food and tobacco processing workers and agricultural workers.

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Average Salary$52,956
Job Growth Rate6%

Agricultural Research Technician Jobs

Average Salary for an Agricultural Research Technician

Agricultural Research Technicians in America make an average salary of $52,956 per year or $25 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $71,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $39,000 per year.
Average Salary
$52,956

Best Paying Cities

0

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyCompanyStart DateSalary
Agricultural Research Technician
Agricultural Research Technician
Agricultural Research Service
Agricultural Research Service
10/26/2019
10/26/2019
$33,94910/26/2019
$33,949
Agricultural Research Technician
Agricultural Research Technician
Agricultural Research Service
Agricultural Research Service
09/26/2019
09/26/2019
$30,34409/26/2019
$30,344
Agricultural Research Technician
Agricultural Research Technician
Agricultural Research Service
Agricultural Research Service
09/21/2019
09/21/2019
$37,84309/21/2019
$37,843
Agricultural Research Technician
Agricultural Research Technician
Middle Tennessee State University
Middle Tennessee State University
08/13/2019
08/13/2019
$36,44308/13/2019
$36,443
Agricultural Research Technician
Agricultural Research Technician
Agricultural Research Service
Agricultural Research Service
07/24/2019
07/24/2019
$45,08107/24/2019
$45,081

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Agricultural Research Technician Demographics

Gender

male

61.7 %

female

37.2 %

unknown

1.1 %

Ethnicity

White

63.6 %

Hispanic or Latino

17.0 %

Black or African American

8.9 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

50.0 %

Mandarin

25.0 %

Chinese

25.0 %
See More Demographics

Agricultural Research Technician Education

Majors

Biology
9.8 %

Degrees

Bachelors

51.2 %

Masters

27.9 %

Associate

11.6 %

Top Colleges for Agricultural Research Technicians

1. Cornell University

Ithaca, NY

In-State Tuition
$55,188
Enrollment
15,105

2. University of Florida

Gainesville, FL

In-State Tuition
$6,381
Enrollment
34,564

3. University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Minneapolis, MN

In-State Tuition
$14,760
Enrollment
31,451

4. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Champaign, IL

In-State Tuition
$15,094
Enrollment
32,974

5. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Blacksburg, VA

In-State Tuition
$13,620
Enrollment
27,730

6. Ohio State University

Columbus, OH

In-State Tuition
$10,726
Enrollment
45,769

7. California State University - Fresno

Fresno, CA

In-State Tuition
$6,587
Enrollment
21,732

8. University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, CA

In-State Tuition
$14,184
Enrollment
30,845

9. Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA

In-State Tuition
$18,454
Enrollment
40,108

10. Delaware State University

Dover, DE

In-State Tuition
$7,868
Enrollment
3,835
See More Education Info

Entry Level Jobs For Becoming An Agricultural Research Technician

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Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Top Skills For an Agricultural Research Technician

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 26.3% of agricultural research technicians listed greenhouse on their resume, but soft skills such as analytical skills and physical stamina are important as well.

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Top Agricultural Research Technician Employers

1. United States Department of Agriculture
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$33,158
Agricultural Research Technicians Hired: 
22+
2. Washington State University
4.2
Avg. Salary: 
$43,583
Agricultural Research Technicians Hired: 
5+
3. University of Nebraska-Lincoln
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$40,213
Agricultural Research Technicians Hired: 
3+
4. North Carolina Central University
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$41,896
Agricultural Research Technicians Hired: 
3+
5. University of Illinois at Chicago
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$44,580
Agricultural Research Technicians Hired: 
2+
6. Monsanto
4.9
Avg. Salary: 
$56,758
Agricultural Research Technicians Hired: 
1+

Recently Added Agricultural Research Technician Jobs

Updated October 2, 2020