Similar Titles

Agricultural Research Technician, Agricultural Research Technologist, Agricultural Technician, Laboratory Technician (Lab Tech), Research Assistant, Research Associate, Research Specialist, Research Technician, Seed Analyst, Farm Technician, Field Technician, Crop Technician, Soil Technician, Livestock Technician, Horticultural Technician, Plant Science Technician, Agricultural Equipment Technician, Precision Agriculture Technician, Crop Consultant

Job Description

When we sit down for a meal, most of us don’t think much about the farms where many of the ingredients came from. Luckily, Agricultural Scientists do spend a lot of time thinking about those farms and their soil, crops, and livestock. To aid with their valuable efforts, these scientists often rely on the help of Agricultural Technicians to assist with their myriad duties. 

The exact responsibilities of an Agricultural Technician can vary greatly from one job to the next. In general, they may do research to help find ways to boost crop production or work in labs to analyze and test product samples. Some days they could be outside getting their hands dirty doing agricultural labor work on farms; other times, they’ll find themselves indoors performing clerical duties such as managing records and organizing data! 

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • Working in an industry that’s feeding society
  • Helping find ways to boost food production
  • Getting lots of task variety by working both indoors and outdoors in various settings
  • Keeping people and animals safe from potential exposure to harmful substances
2021 Employment
2031 Projected Employment
The Inside Scoop
Job Responsibilities

Working Schedule

  • Agricultural Technicians usually work full-time. Their work environments can vary depending on their employer and specific role. They could work in offices or labs, on farms, at processing plants, or in greenhouses.

Typical Duties

  • Help to lay out and prep land to be used for crops, orchards, or vineyards
  • Ensure production areas meet parameters to conduct testing
  • Set up and maintain labs, lab equipment, and various chemicals or supplies needed
  • Collect, prepare, and analyze soil, air, water, seed, crop, insect, and animal samples or specimens
  • Look for signs of disease or pollutants via lab and field testing
  • Record, organize, and save data, test results, and observations
  • Ensure appropriate storage or disposal of materials after testing
  • Draft written reports, to include graphics, charts, or other visuals 
  • Aid with some general labor tasks related to crop production (i.e., tilling, hoeing, pulling weeds, etc.)
  • Operate and maintain various farm or field equipment such as plows or tractors at work sites
  • Study fertilizer application methods and procedures
  • Plant and fertilize crops; enrich the soil 
  • Assess soil erosion issues
  • Monitor sites where weed and pest control chemicals are used
  • Review integrated pest management practices for effectiveness
  • Assist with plant nursery work (i.e., germinating seeds and maintaining optimal environmental conditions); review seed germination rates
  • Examine livestock feed ingredients; create animal food recipes
  • Give animals vaccines; help animals recover from illnesses or injuries

Additional Responsibilities

  • Collaborate with and offer training to farm workers 
  • Transplant plants, vegetables, or small trees, as necessary
  • Create cultural methods for plants, as needed
  • Help to maintain and safeguard tools and equipment
  • Conduct agriculture-related surveys
  • Give educational presentations to local groups
  • Field emails and calls from the public
Skills Needed on the Job

Soft Skills

  • Active listening
  • Analytical 
  • Attention to detail
  • Coordination
  • Critical thinking
  • Decision-making
  • Independent
  • Investigative
  • Monitoring
  • Organized
  • Patient
  • Physical stamina
  • Problem-solving
  • Resourceful 
  • Strong communication skills 

Technical Skills

  • Knowledge of math (arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics), biology, chemistry, and geography 
  • Familiarity with basic crop production duties and usage of farm equipment such as plows, tractors, combines, balers, and mowers
  • Familiarity with earthmoving heavy equipment such as excavators, skid steers, backhoes, bulldozers, and graders
  • Familiarity with testing tools such as air samplers, spectrometers, nitrogen determination apparatus, and pH meters
  • Understanding of job site safety procedures and personal protective equipment 
  • Knowledge of first aid 
Different Types of Organizations
  • Animal production and aquaculture facilities 
  • Colleges and universities
  • Farms and crop producers 
  • Private research and development facilities 
  • Wholesale trade companies 
Expectations and Sacrifices

Agricultural Technicians stay very busy and must juggle a range of duties in different settings. They might work outdoors in the heat or cold, performing labor tasks while being exposed to typical farm elements such as dust, dirt, animal smells, insects, and heavy equipment noise. 

They might be called upon to operate the equipment themselves or help with hoeing, pulling weeds, or carrying bags of fertilizer. It can be a physically demanding job, but there are times when Agricultural Technicians stay indoors, working in labs, analyzing data, and maintaining records. This aspect of the job is equally important, for it helps to keep crops and animals safe, which in turn, helps keep all of us safe, too! 

Current Trends

Agricultural career fields are a mix of Mother Nature and cutting-edge science. Modern trends in ag science include the use of robots to help farmers with planting, harvesting, spraying, and other production chores. High-tech drones are able to fly over fields to gather information and images as well as help track livestock. 

In addition to these technologies, artificial intelligence (AI) is making headway into the industry, providing live intel on field conditions as well as predictions of upcoming weather, crop yields, and even pricing strategies. Precision agriculture practices are a hot eco-friendly trend, for they enable farmers to only use the exact amounts of water or fertilizer necessary, without anything going to waste. 

What kinds of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were younger…

Agricultural Technicians may have grown up in rural areas and were comfortable working outside and getting their hands dirty. They’re analytical and comfortable with lab work, so may have excelled in chemistry or biology classes in school. It’s likely that, at an early age, they began to put thought into the things they eat or where their food came from—which is why they were later compelled to work directly in agriculture!  

Education and Training Needed
  • Agricultural Technicians come from all sorts of educational backgrounds. Per O*Net, 32% have a master’s degree, 29% have a bachelor’s, and 18% an associate’s
  • Common degree majors include crop or animal science, plant science, chemistry, biology, environmental science, or agricultural engineering 
  • An associate’s degree is often enough to qualify for many entry-level roles, but a bachelor’s can help qualify you for more (and perhaps better-paying) jobs
  • Depending on your area of interest, common courses may include:
    • Agricultural chemicals 
    • Agricultural engineering
    • Animal health 
    • Biology
    • Botany
    • Chemistry
    • Crop production 
    • Math 
    • Physics 
    • Plant and animal science
    • Sanitation procedures 
    • Spreadsheets and databases
    • Statistics 
  • Educational programs often feature internships or cooperative education opportunities. Students are highly encouraged to take advantage of these!
  • Practical work experience is generally desired by employers. Agricultural Technician duties can vary considerably from one job to the next, so workers receive lengthy On-the-Job training to cover the specifics of their new roles 
  • For positions that involve operating or maintaining farm equipment or heavy machinery, students must get driver and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety training either from classes or during OJT
  • A standard driver’s license is usually needed, and some employers want their hires to get a commercial driver’s license, too
Things to look for in an University
  • Decide if you’ll attend a program on-campus, online, or via a hybrid method (i.e., a mix of both)
  • Look for programs that feature ag-related internships or co-op experiences, and that have established partnerships with local farms or other sites that hire graduates
  • Research which schools offer scholarships or tuition discounts to help offset your out-of-pocket costs! 
Things to do in High School and College
  • In high school, students should dive into their math, chemistry, and biology classes
  • Enroll in any ag-related school programs or activities, such as 4-H
  • Apply to state or federal agriculture programs like USDA’s AgLab or summer programs such as AgDiscovery
  • Apply for part-time jobs, internships, or apprenticeships where you can gain real-world experience on farms, orchards, vineyards, and in labs 
  • Try to get experience working with as many types of farm tools, equipment, and vehicles as possible 
  • Reach out to working Agricultural Technicians to request an informational interview. See if you can shadow them on the job for a day!
  • Watch YouTube videos about ag science (for example, TED-Ed’s “Can we create the ‘perfect’ farm?”
  • Decide if you want to get a certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s before applying for jobs
  • Check out job postings ahead of time to learn about the common qualifications needed. For example, a recent job ad lists the following required (and preferred) qualifications: 
    • Required -  
      • High school diploma or equivalent
      • Able to obtain a Private Pesticide Applicator’s License
      • Must have or ability to obtain CDL [commercial driver’s license] within 6 months of hire
      • Valid driver’s license
      • Able to work in varied environmental conditions (loud, hot, cold, dusty, damp, etc)
      • Demonstrated experience operating, loading, and driving a loaded trailer
      • Experience in agriculture
    • Preferred - 
      • Basic knowledge of agricultural pesticides and weed identification
      • Bachelor’s Degree in an Agriculture related field
Typical Roadmap
Agricultural Technician Roadmap
How to Land your 1st job
  • Scan popular job portals like, AgCareers, or AgHires, as well as local farm, orchard, or vineyard websites 
  • Other ag-related job boards include: 
  • Having any farm-related work experience plus experience operating farm equipment and vehicles will help make you more competitive. If you don’t have much experience, then in addition to looking for full-time work, be open to taking part-time gigs, seasonal help, or internships. Sometimes these can lead to a full-time job!
  • Landing a job as an Agricultural Technician is easier if you have connections in the industry or local community. Reach out to anyone you’ve worked with previously in an ag-related job or internship, as well as your college instructors or program managers
  • If you live in a city, consider moving to a more rural area where there may be a better chance of finding jobs in this field 
    • The states with the highest employment rate of Agricultural Technicians are Illinois, California, Washington, Iowa, and Indiana. Meanwhile, the states with the highest concentration of jobs are South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, North Dakota, and Arkansas
  • Review Agricultural Technician resume templates and add relevant keywords to your resume, such as:
    • Agricultural Equipment
    • Data Entry
    • Farm Equipment
    • Greenhouse
    • Harvest
    • Inspection Reports
    • Plant Samples
    • Research Projects
    • Research Services
    • USDA
  • Talk to previous supervisors or teachers and ask if they’re willing to serve as personal references. Get their permission first before giving listing them as contacts
  • Study Agricultural Technician sample interview questions such as “What is your process for testing soil quality?” Practice your answers and do some mock interviews with a friend
  • Always dress for interview success!
  • Be sure to have your regular driver’s license. Some Agricultural Technicians need to obtain a commercial driver’s license, as well, which usually involves passing a drug test
How to Climb the Ladder
  • If you’ll be working outdoors, always check the weather forecast and bring appropriate clothing and gear
  • Be proactive about keeping required equipment and inventory on hand for the given situation 
  • Talk to your supervisor about advancement opportunities, and continue working on your education by taking classes or working towards the next level of degree
  • Always put safety first! Wear personal protective equipment, comply with OSHA standards, and follow equipment or vehicle safety guidelines
  • Treat farmers and workers with respect and show them you care about their crops and animals 
  • Get familiar with the latest ag-related technological advancements such as drone usage and AI-enabled software 
  • Study industry publications and engage in professional associations (see our Recommended Tools/Resources section)
  • Expand your horizons by studying different aspects of agriculture, so you can qualify for a broader range of positions 
  • If necessary to advance, switch to a larger employer when the time is right…but never burn bridges with your last boss!
  • Consider working your way up to being an Agricultural Scientist. The educational requirements are similar and the pay is much better, with a median annual wage of $74,160—about $33,500 more than Agricultural Technicians earn per year
    • Note, the highest earning Agricultural Scientists can make $128,160, which is twice as much as the highest-earning technicians who make $62,200
Plan B

Working as an Agricultural Technician can be fun, rewarding—and physically demanding! It’s not uncommon for some students to be interested in certain aspects of the job, but not all of them. That’s why we’ve put together a list of related occupations for you to consider! 

  • Agricultural and Food Scientists
  • Agricultural Engineers
  • Agricultural Worker
  • Animal Care and Service Workers
  • Biological Technician
  • Chemical Technician
  • Conservation Scientists and Forester
  • Environmental Science and Protection Technician
  • Farmer, Rancher, and Agricultural Manager
  • Food Processing Equipment Worker
  • Food Science Technician
  • Microbiologist
  • Precision Agriculture Technician


Online Courses and Tools