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Agricultural and Food Scientists Job Outlook

Employment of agricultural and food scientists is expected to increase by 10 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Ongoing animal science research, as well as an increased reliance on food safety through biotechnology and nanotechnology, is expected to increase demand for agricultural and food scientists moderately. Agricultural scientists will also be needed to balance increased agricultural output with protecting and preserving soil, water, and ecosystems. They increasingly will help develop sustainable agricultural practices by creating and carrying out plans to manage pests, crops, soil fertility, erosion, and animal waste in ways that reduce the use of harmful chemicals and minimize damage to the natural environment. In addition, demand for biofuels—renewable energy sources from plants—is expected to increase.

Job growth for food scientists and technologists is expected to be driven by the demand for new food products and food safety measures. Food research is expected to increase because the public is more aware of nutrition, health, food safety, and the need to keep herd animals from getting infections.

Most growth over the next 10 years for agricultural and food scientists will be in private industry. Private industry has increased its demand for agricultural and food scientists because their expertise is necessary for developing food, crops, and drugs, along with ensuring quality and safety.  

Furthermore, research in genomics and agricultural sustainability also is expected to increase the number of available agricultural science positions. Findings from these scientists' studies may improve crop yields or have an impact on other fields, such as biofuels.

Job Prospects

A number of job vacancies will arise as many scientists are expected to retire within the next 10 years.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition