Agricultural Engineer Job Description
Agricultural engineers solve technical problems that affect agricultural efficiency and production. They can specialize in a variety of areas, such as farming, forestry, aquaculture, and biofuels. They combine their knowledge of biological science and engineering to improve power supply, agricultural machinery, irrigation, pollution issues, building structures, food processing, soil and water conservation, and more. Most agricultural engineers work full time; however, their schedules can vary according to the project they are working on. For example, outdoor projects may require longer hours to take advantage of pleasant weather. When unexpected issues arise in construction projects, agricultural engineers may need to work outside of standard business hours to address them.
Agricultural Engineer Duties and Responsibilities
While an agricultural engineer’s day-to-day duties and responsibilities are determined by where they work, there are many core tasks associated with the role. Based on our analysis of job listings, these include:
Design Agricultural Machinery and Systems
Agricultural engineers use computer technology to design machinery, systems, and equipment. For example, they may design earth-moving vehicles that are able to perform agricultural tasks in difficult weather conditions. Drafting designs, reviewing technical specifications, and adjusting engineering plans for compliance with regulations are key responsibilities of agricultural engineers.
Test Agricultural Equipment
Agricultural engineers test and install new equipment (like logging machinery or fertilizer sprayers). They conduct careful evaluations for safety and reliability. When agricultural equipment does not perform properly, engineers troubleshoot to find the source of the problem.
Consult Farmers and Businesses on Land Use
Agricultural engineers are subject-matter experts that use GPS, weather data, and other computer modeling tools to provide advice on land pollution, water quality, and soil conditions. They assess environmental impact and make suggestions that increase agricultural productivity.
Plan Agricultural Upgrades and Repairs
By applying relevant engineering methods, procedures, and criteria, agricultural engineers troubleshoot and repair livestock and crop facilities. They upgrade construction projects and use their judgment to modify designs for increased efficiency and usability.
Supervise Construction Projects
Agricultural engineers oversee construction projects related to issues like water drainage, land restoration, and irrigation. Engineers are also tasked with building structures for loading, food processing, animal processing, and crop storing. While supervising a construction project, agricultural engineers discuss progress with clients, contractors, consultants, and other engineers to keep the project structurally sound and on track.
Agricultural Engineer Skills and Qualifications
Agricultural engineers are creative problem-solvers with demonstrated technical abilities. Employers generally seek candidates who possess a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering or biological engineering. The following skills are essential to getting the job done:
- Engineering experience – using engineering strategies to solve problems is the primary role of agricultural engineers
- Expertise in biological science – a thorough of understanding of biological science helps agricultural engineers plan and complete essential projects related to land use and soil and water conservation
- Math skills – agricultural engineers regularly use advanced math such as calculus, trigonometry, and geometry for analysis, design, and troubleshooting
- Industrial design – designing agricultural equipment that is safer and more efficient is another key duty
- Analytical thinking – agricultural engineers must examine the needs of complex agricultural systems that include machinery, equipment, workers, plants, animals, and environmental settings
- Communication skills – successfully conversing with other contractors, clients, and engineers to solve challenges is a requirement for agricultural engineers
Tools of the Trade
Agricultural engineers are comfortable using the following software and equipment in a typical workday:
- Agricultural machinery and equipment
- Computer-aided design (CAD) technology
Agricultural Engineer Education and Training
Most agricultural engineering jobs require a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering, biological engineering, mechanical engineering, or a closely related field. Employers prefer candidates with some level of hands-on agricultural construction experience. Several education programs offer engineering competitions that allow students opportunities to solve practical problems.
Agricultural Engineer Salary and Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for agricultural engineers is $74,780. The lowest 10 percent of workers make less than $47,280, while the highest 10 percent earn more than $114,880. Industry employment for agricultural engineers is expected to grow 8 percent through 2026, which is an average rate of growth compared to all other occupations. Increasing societal demand for agricultural efficiency and production will keep the job market for agricultural engineers relatively stable.
There are many helpful resources out there for those interested in agricultural engineering. Check out these links that are full of learning opportunities and the latest industry news:
American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers – ASABE is a national educational and scientific organization dedicated to agricultural engineering. It offers professional learning opportunities for those new to the field
American Association of Engineering Societies – visit the AAES website to learn about the main streams of engineering, get access to latest news, and more
Elements of Agricultural Engineering – read this book to discover the core fundamentals you need to know to become a successful agricultural engineer
Elements of the Nature and Properties of Soils – successful agricultural engineers must understand the world of soils and how to prevent their destruction and pollution
Objectives of Agricultural Engineering – this book covers the fundamentals of agricultural engineering to prepare you for exams on general agriculture, farm machinery, power engineering, irrigation, drainage, mechanics, and farm electricity
Agricultural Engineers Association – this UK-based networking organization is geared toward agricultural machinery manufacturers and workers
Soil and Water Conservation Engineering – learn the basics of soil and water conservation in urban and rural areas – a critical topic of study for agricultural engineers
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