Agricultural engineers apply their knowledge of biology and engineering principals to devising improved agricultural equipment. They also work on structures, such as those used to store crops. They work at developing agricultural machinery that is more efficient and in some cases, more affordable for small farmers. They may also focus on improving the use of water for irrigation and on improved harvesting methods. Food processing may also be an area of specialization.
As with all engineering professions, the field of agriculture requires a bachelor's degree. Working with crops and food processing requires a thorough knowledge of chemistry and agricultural technology. In areas of fertilization, harvesting technology and maximizing crop yields the agricultural engineer must be part scientist, part mechanical engineer and part farmer.
This is a small corner of the engineering universe. There were about 3,100 agricultural engineers working in the U.S. in 2006. Some worked for food production companies and some were government employees.
This profession is expected to grow at about the same pace as the average projected growth rate for jobs overall. The continuing issue of genetically structuring plants using DNA may help to increase the job market for agricultural engineers.
Lowest 10% $43,150
Median Salary $68,730
Highest 10% $108,470
Source: U.S. Department of Labor