An Agriculture Degree: Today's Golden Ticket

AN AGRICULTURE DEGREE: TODAY'S GOLDEN TICKET

[caption id="attachment_3585" align="aligncenter" width="558"]Photo via Oklahoma Panhandle State University - http://www.opsu.edu/Academics/Agriculture/ Photo via Oklahoma Panhandle State University - http://www.opsu.edu/Academics/Agriculture/[/caption]   In America, receiving a job offer is pretty much the same process as it was twenty years ago. You find a place hiring, submit a resume, go into an interview, and get told if you were accepted to fill the position. The differences might be that you find the job online instead of on a bulletin board and you submit your resume through email instead of fax. The biggest difference of all, however, is the percentage of times people get that happy call with good news. About 87 percent of individuals who had earned a Bachelor’s degree in 1994 were working either full or part-time within a year of graduation. Now, that number is just under 73 percent. A college degree for the upcoming generation seems to be equivalent to a high school degree for the previous. So the question is: are jobs in America dwindling, or are students just getting degrees in the wrong field? Statistics often display support for the latter. One thriving job market has always been agriculture. A recent study from the USDA and Purdue University showed that in Agriculture there will be an average of 58,000 job openings annually through 2020, but only 35,000 U.S. grads to fill those positions. Degrees in everything from plant and food science, biomaterials, water resource, and precision agriculture are in extremely high demand. But 46 percent of the agricultural job openings are projected to be in management and business, with only 27 percent in science technology, engineering, and mathematics. Other large sections of these job openings will be in sustainable foods and bio-materials at 15 percent, and education with 12 percent. These openings are not just your run-of-the-mill starting positions either. The average salary for an agricultural graduate right out of college in 2014 was about $48,000. Individuals are entering in a field dominated by family operations (96% of U.S. crop farms are family owned), receiving higher pay than their non-agricultural counterparts, and doing good around the world through the food that they produce. The best part? These jobs are not going anywhere. In 1961, the world was feeding 3.5 billion people; today we feed over 7 billion. In 2050, we will be tasked with feeding over 9 billion, using less land and water, and producing less carbon emissions. We need farmers, ranchers, agricultural scientists, and researchers to reach this goal - and we need them fast. Twenty-five percent of the existing professional agricultural workforce is 55 years old or older. Issues with the ability to fill these positions are not new; they date back before the 80s. In 1982, a study was conducted that found over 13% of the total jobs in the food and fiber industry went unfilled or were filled by underqualified individuals. Having a degree in agriculture is like having a golden ticket – you are practically guaranteed a job right after college. Around 90 percent of college graduates with degrees in agriculture are hired within just 6 months of graduation. For other degrees that average can dip down to a mere 50 percent. For one example, Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences boasts a 98.4% placement of their grads from the 2013-14 year. So, no, the overall job market may not seem as great as it once was, but if you want to get a job practically all you need is a degree in agriculture. With all of this information in mind, we find it hard to believe that colleges around the nation are not flooded with individuals pursuing agriculture. So we ask you this: Does a degree in agriculture seem like a good investment to you?  

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