Career Spotlight: Agronomist

There have been requests to do more career profiles on the blog.

I love learning about agricultural careers, so I am happy to oblige. This week’s profile is on what it’s like to be an Agronomist.

What is an Agronomist?

An Agronomist is someone who analyzes, manages, and advises other on the science and technology involved in growing crops. This encompasses practical work in areas such as plant genetics, plant physiology, soil science, meteorology, and pest and disease management.

Agronomists are employed by private companies, farms, universities, the government, and even non-profits. Any group on the “front lines’ of crop production is going to need agronomic expertise.

This expertise can take the form of research, sales, marketing, operations, or advisory services. Due to the broad scope of employers and careers, many Agronomists go by other titles such as Farm Manager, Salesman, Professor, etc.

The question I wanted to know was:

What’s so great about being an Agronomist?

So, I asked my LinkedIn network, and got some great responses from Montana to Florida to Eastern Europe!

Showing others the gift to grow crops for a living and help others have employment. Satisfaction after a great yield and season is one of the most fulfilling perks to my job.”Jim Gravley, COO of Old Florida Citrus Holdings

“I enjoy the different challenges each year brings, and problem-solving to meet the needs of a grower. It’s a career that never gets boring and you never stop learning!”  – Miranda Sims, Agronomy Sales Rep for Winfield Solutions

“The best thing about my work is being with growers through the tough times and the best times, as we all know every year is different! Being able to help/guide others is very rewarding especially in your own community.” Desirae O’Neil, Sales Agronomist at Westland Seed Inc.

“In general Production Agriculture has the potential to take advantage of technology and advances in science to close a big efficiency gap over the next decade. Change equals opportunities.”Robert Murray, Sustainable Agriculture Specialist

There is a lot to like: being exposed to the nature, alternating office and outdoors, seeing the fruit of your labor, the ability of the buffered system to “forgive” some mistakes.”Oleg Alexandrov, Regional Sales Manager (Eastern Europe & Middle East) at Senninger Irrigation

Some great perspectives!

What Does It Take? 

Most Agronomists have a degree in Agronomy or a related agricultural or biological field. From there, the best course is to get in with a good company. Especially one that invests in training their people. You can then sharpen your knowledge and build your reputation. After a few years you will be quite valuable to your clients and company.

Some Agronomists have attended either community college or “the school of hard knocks”. If you can find the right person or company to teach you, this is another possible career path. Statistically speaking though, you will earn more over your lifetime and have more opportunities if you get at least a bachelor’s degree.

For research-related positions you will likely need to have a Master’s Degree or PhD.

While educating yourself in agronomy make sure you get INTERNSHIPS! This is where you really get to understand what you’re learning on a practical level and prove yourself to potential employers.

If you think you’d like a career that involves helping farmers feed the world, working both inside and outside, and constantly learning and adapting to change, being an Agronomist might just be for you!

Tim Hammerich

Tim is a strategic communications consultant, founder of AgGrad, and the host of the "Future of Agriculture" podcast. Originally from California, he is now based out of Boise, Idaho.