By Sherley Alaba
The agriculture industry is one of the most overlooked industries for college graduates who are looking begin their careers.
It is always perceived as one in decline, especially today as there is a constant release of news about the decreasing demand due to the surplus harvest thanks to bumper crops and good weather conditions.
The demand for agricultural products is cyclical by its very nature, however, the industry is continuously progressing and the demand for skilled employees is increasing.
Reports reveal that there is high demand for college graduates with a degree in agricultural programs. It is expected that an average of nearly 60,000 agricultural jobs for high-skilled, college-educated people will be created each year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. However, the same source reported that only 35,000 graduates with relevant skills are expected to enter the market each year.
As you research careers within the agriculture industry, you will realize that innovation is constant. Agriculture is no longer the traditional industry with just cows and plows.
The agriculture industry has become very diverse, which has created roles that did not exist merely five years ago.
As expected, the main demand is for people who have specialized in agriculture and life science related fields. The agriculture industry needs farm animal veterinarians, pest control specialists, water resource scientists and more.
However, what people do not realize is that the agriculture industry just does not need graduates with specialized degrees in agricultural fields. Agriculture is becoming a dynamic industry, and it now has a need for people with degrees that pertain to finance and analyzing data.
Constant innovation has brought big data into play. Farming equipment may look the same, but it has become very smart. For example, farmers can now take an iPad from their tractor and find out the exact point on the field where the planter missed a seed. All of this innovation requires college graduates who have obtained advanced degrees in mathematics, computer science and industrial mechanics.
The need for college graduates does not end at jobs that require research and development into new farming equipment and data gathering techniques. We have developed ways to gather massive amounts of data, but we need skilled analysts to interpret this data and pinpoint places that need improvement.
Once the agriculture industry discovered big data and analyzing, then came the demand for cloud-based data sharing, and once again, a whole new type of college-educated person was required. When talking about the cloud, it is important to mention that this data is deemed to be sensitive and many farmers — instead of sharing such data — guard it, leading to a demand for people who are skilled in server set ups and data security.
Agriculture is transforming into a limitless industry. In the next 10 years, companies like DuPont are expected to earn revenues of $500 million from the data analysis services provided to farmers. The possibilities for the agricultural industry are endless and already in play.