Summary Report for:
19-4012.00 - Agricultural Technicians
Work with agricultural scientists in plant, fiber, and animal research, or assist with animal breeding and nutrition. Set up or maintain laboratory equipment and collect samples from crops or animals. Prepare specimens or record data to assist scientists in biology or related life science experiments. Conduct tests and experiments to improve yield and quality of crops or to increase the resistance of plants and animals to disease or insects.
Sample of reported job titles: Agricultural Research Technician, Agricultural Research Technologist, Agricultural Technician, Laboratory Technician (Lab Tech), Research Assistant, Research Associate, Research Specialist, Research Technician, Seed Analyst
Also see: Precision Agriculture Technicians
Tasks | Technology Skills | Tools Used | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- Record data pertaining to experimentation, research, or animal care.
- Measure or weigh ingredients used in laboratory testing.
- Prepare data summaries, reports, or analyses that include results, charts, or graphs to document research findings and results.
- Set up laboratory or field equipment as required for site testing.
- Prepare laboratory samples for analysis, following proper protocols to ensure that they will be stored, prepared, and disposed of efficiently and effectively.
- Examine animals or crop specimens to determine the presence of diseases or other problems.
- Collect animal or crop samples.
- Supervise pest or weed control operations, including locating and identifying pests or weeds, selecting chemicals and application methods, or scheduling application.
- Supervise or train agricultural technicians or farm laborers.
- Respond to general inquiries or requests from the public.
- Perform crop production duties, such as tilling, hoeing, pruning, weeding, or harvesting crops.
- Record environmental data from field samples of soil, air, water, or pests to monitor the effectiveness of integrated pest management (IPM) practices.
- Conduct studies of nitrogen or alternative fertilizer application methods, quantities, or timing to ensure satisfaction of crop needs and minimization of leaching, runoff, or denitrification.
- Conduct insect or plant disease surveys.
- Maintain or repair agricultural facilities, equipment, or tools to ensure operational readiness, safety, and cleanliness.
- Prepare land for cultivated crops, orchards, or vineyards by plowing, discing, leveling, or contouring.
- Operate farm machinery, including tractors, plows, mowers, combines, balers, sprayers, earthmoving equipment, or trucks.
- Perform laboratory or field testing, using spectrometers, nitrogen determination apparatus, air samplers, centrifuges, or potential hydrogen (pH) meters to perform tests.
- Perform tests on seeds to evaluate seed viability.
- Perform general nursery duties, such as propagating standard varieties of plant materials, collecting and germinating seeds, maintaining cuttings of plants, or controlling environmental conditions.
- Devise cultural methods or environmental controls for plants for which guidelines are sketchy or nonexistent.
- Prepare culture media, following standard procedures.
- Transplant trees, vegetables, or horticultural plants.
- Prepare or present agricultural demonstrations.
- Determine the germination rates of seeds planted in specified areas.
- Analytical or scientific software — Statistical software
- Data base user interface and query software — Data entry software; Microsoft Access
- Desktop publishing software
- Electronic mail software — Email software; Microsoft Outlook
- Enterprise resource planning ERP software — SAP
- Internet browser software — Web browser software
- Office suite software — Microsoft Office
- Operating system software — Microsoft operating system
- Presentation software — Microsoft PowerPoint
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Word processing software — Microsoft Word
Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.
- Agricultural tractors
- Air compressors
- Air samplers or collectors — Air samplers
- Animal husbandry equipment — Animal chutes; Animal head-locks; Dipping vats; Spray-dip machines
- Animal weighing scales — Livestock scales
- Bench scales — Electronic bench scales; Weight meters
- Benchtop centrifuges
- Binocular light compound microscopes — Compound binocular light microscopes
- Blood collection syringes
- Cargo trucks — Heavy cargo trucks
- Combine harvesters
- Conveyor screw — Grain augers
- Cultivators — Chisel cultivators; Sweep cultivator shovels
- Desktop computers
- Dry heat or hot air sterilizers — Soil sterilizers
- Drying cabinets or ovens — Drying ovens
- Dusters — Power dusters
- Electronic counters
- Entomological catching equipment — Insect collectors
- Fertilizer spreaders or distributors — Fertilizer or seed spreaders; Granule applicators
- Fog or mist generators — Aerosol foggers; Aerosol generators
- Forced air or mechanical convection general purpose incubators — Laboratory mechanical convection incubators
- Forestry saws — Pruning shears; Reach pole saws
- Gas welding or brazing or cutting apparatus — Gas welders
- Graders or land levelers — Bed shapers
- Handheld refractometers or polarimeters — Portable refractometers
- Haymaking machinery — Balers; Rakes
- Height gauges — Animal measuring sticks
- Hypodermic injection apparatus — Vaccination syringes
- Incubators or brooders for poultry — Egg incubators; Egg setters or hatchers
- Infrared lamps
- Laboratory separators
- Laser printers
- Light trucks or sport utility vehicles — Light trucks
- Livestock identification equipment — Animal tatooers
- Medical syringes with needle — Hypodermic syringes
- Metal inert gas welding machine — Metal inert gas MIG welders
- Milk cooling tanks — Milk cooling equipment
- Milking machines
- Moisture meters — Soil moisture neutron probes
- Nitrogen or nitrate or nitrite analyzer — Nitrogen test meters
- Notebook computers
- Personal computers
- Personal digital assistant PDAs or organizers — Personal digital assistants PDA
- pH meters
- Plant samples analysis equipment — Pollen collectors
- Planters — Planting sleds
- Ploughs — Plows
- Power saws
- Refrigerated and heated reach in environmental or growth chambers — Temperature controlled reach-in growth chambers
- Reverse osmosis equipment — Reverse osmosis systems
- Sample holders — Sample vials
- Shielded metal arc welding or stick welding machine — Shielded arc welding tools
- Sprayers — Chemical sprayers; Crop sprayers
- Steam autoclaves or sterilizers — Steam autoclaves; Steam sterilizers
- Surface thermometers
- Tablet computers
- Temperature or humidity surface observing apparatus — Temperature gauges
- Threshing machines — Threshers
- Track bulldozers — Tracked bulldozers
- Trenching machines — Trenchers
- Vacuum blood collection tubes or containers — Vacuum blood collection tubes
- Veterinary castration instruments — Callicrate banding systems; Elastrator bands
- Veterinary injection or suction unit — Artificial insemination syringes
- Water samplers
- Weather stations — Weather instruments
- Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
- Biology — Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
- Chemistry — Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
- Administration and Management — Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Administrative — Knowledge of administrative and office procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and workplace terminology.
- Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- Education and Training — Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
- Geography — Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.
- Mechanical — Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
- Personnel and Human Resources — Knowledge of principles and procedures for personnel recruitment, selection, training, compensation and benefits, labor relations and negotiation, and personnel information systems.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
- Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Mathematics — Using mathematics to solve problems.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
- Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Science — Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others.
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Mathematical Reasoning — The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
- Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
- Number Facility — The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.
- Visual Color Discrimination — The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
- Arm-Hand Steadiness — The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
- Control Precision — The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
- Finger Dexterity — The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
- Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
- Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
- Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Working with Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Controlling Machines and Processes — Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
- Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Performing General Physical Activities — Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling materials.
- Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
- Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment — Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or watercraft.
- Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
- Monitoring and Controlling Resources — Monitoring and controlling resources and overseeing the spending of money.
- Communicating with People Outside the Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Performing Administrative Activities — Performing day-to-day administrative tasks such as maintaining information files and processing paperwork.
- Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
- Handling and Moving Objects — Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
- Providing Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
- Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
Detailed Work Activities
- Record research or operational data.
- Measure ingredients.
- Prepare scientific or technical reports or presentations.
- Cultivate land.
- Prepare biological samples for testing or analysis.
- Set up laboratory or field equipment.
- Examine characteristics or behavior of living organisms.
- Collect biological specimens.
- Manage agricultural or forestry operations.
- Supervise scientific or technical personnel.
- Train personnel in technical or scientific procedures.
- Research sustainable agricultural processes or practices.
- Research diseases or parasites.
- Maintain laboratory or technical equipment.
- Operate farming equipment.
- Operate laboratory or field equipment.
- Test quality of materials or finished products.
- Care for plants or animals.
- Provide technical information or assistance to public.
- Develop sustainable industrial or development methods.
- Prepare compounds or solutions for products or testing.
- Research crop management methods.
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 84% responded “Every day.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 70% responded “Extremely important.”
- Contact With Others — 49% responded “Constant contact with others.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 48% responded “Extremely important.”
- Electronic Mail — 56% responded “Every day.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 39% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Telephone — 44% responded “Every day.”
- Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 41% responded “Extremely important.”
- Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 36% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 41% responded “Every day.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 60% responded “Very important.”
- Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 48% responded “Moderate responsibility.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 44% responded “Some freedom.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 63% responded “40 hours.”
- Outdoors, Exposed to Weather — 42% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Exposed to Contaminants — 48% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Indoors, Not Environmentally Controlled — 49% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Time Pressure — 45% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Consequence of Error — 31% responded “Extremely serious.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 35% responded “Every day.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 38% responded “Important results.”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 34% responded “High responsibility.”
- Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 38% responded “About half the time.”
- In an Enclosed Vehicle or Equipment — 42% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable — 46% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Very Hot or Cold Temperatures — 43% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Deal With External Customers — 58% responded “Important.”
- Physical Proximity — 39% responded “Slightly close (e.g., shared office).”
- Extremely Bright or Inadequate Lighting — 31% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
|Title||Job Zone Three: Medium Preparation Needed|
|Education||Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.|
|Related Experience||Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.|
|Job Training||Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.|
|Job Zone Examples||These occupations usually involve using communication and organizational skills to coordinate, supervise, manage, or train others to accomplish goals. Examples include hydroelectric production managers, travel guides, electricians, agricultural technicians, barbers, court reporters, and medical assistants.|
|SVP Range||(6.0 to < 7.0)|
Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
Interest code: RIC Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
- Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
- Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
- Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
- Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
- Relationships — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
- Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
- Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
Wages & Employment Trends
Median wage data for Agricultural and Food Science Technicians.
Employment data for Agricultural and Food Science Technicians.
Industry data for Agricultural and Food Science Technicians.
|Median wages (2020)||$20.18 hourly, $41,970 annual|
|Employment (2020)||26,600 employees|
|Projected growth (2020-2030)||Average (5% to 10%)|
|Projected job openings (2020-2030)||3,700|
|Top industries (2020)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 wage data and 2020-2030 employment projections . "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.
Job Openings on the Web
Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- Agronomic Science Foundation
- American Dairy Science Association
- American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists
- American Society for Clinical Pathology
- American Society of Agronomy
- American Society of Animal Science
- American Veterinary Medical Association
- Association of Official Seed Analysts/Society of Commercial Seed Technologists
- Crop Science Society of America
- Entomological Society of America
- Institute of Food Technologists
- International Society for Seed Science
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: Agricultural and food science technicians
- Soil Science Society of America
- Southern Weed Science Society
- Weed Science Society of America