Careers in agriculture and natural resources

Are you interested in farming, hunting, or conservation? If so, a job in agriculture, food, or natural resources might be right for you. Jobs in this field relate to the production, processing, marketing, distribution, financing, and development of agricultural commodities and resources including food, fiber, wood products, natural resources, horticulture, and other plant and animal products or resources.

Workers produce products and processes—from raising food and textile crops to breeding livestock and hunting wild game; from mining ore below the earth’s surface to hazardous waste removal and wildlife conservation. Historic trends are giving way to new developments in this cluster. View this video to learn more.

What are the trends in agriculture, food, and natural resources?

  • Agriculture is one of the oldest occupations in existence and is essential to human survival.
  • In the early 1900s, 30% of the U.S. population lived on farms compared to fewer than 1% today.
  • New food products are continuously developed to keep up with consumers’ tastes.
  • Environmental protection is a major aspect of the natural resources sector, and includes recycling, rehabilitating contaminated land sites, and reducing pollution.

Quick facts about agriculture, food, and natural resources

  • Technology improves efficiency. Technology continues to improve agricultural efficiencies, for example geospatial mapping can be used to precisely target pesticides and fertilizers to areas with poor crop yields.
  • Mining jobs are expanding. Mining employs 675,000 workers and is projected to grow more rapidly than other segments of the cluster.
  • Demand for renewable energy fast growing. Demand for renewable energy is growing faster than any other energy source in the U.S.
  • Decline in demand for wood products. Demand for paper and wood products is projected to slow in the next several years, reducing related employment demand

Would a career in agriculture, food, and natural resources be a good fit for me?

Do you enjoy hands-on experiences? Are you curious about working with materials, being outdoors, and interacting with the environment? Then a career in the agriculture, food, and natural resources cluster may be for you. Here are some points to keep in mind:

  • Jobs in this cluster overall have a relatively high rate of injury with 3% of workers annually reporting a workplace injury. Exposure to pesticides is one source of risk.
  • The availability of work in many jobs fluctuates due to a few key causes: the availability of resources, market conditions, and season of the year.
  • Up-to-date knowledge of regulations and operating within requirements from the Environmental Protection Agency is key for a number of careers in this cluster.
  • Farming is typically both a business and a lifestyle; family farm workers sometimes earn an income from another job to help maintain their farm livelihood.

What are some careers in agriculture, food, and natural resources?

Many jobs are available in this cluster that either require a high school diploma or have no formal training requirements. Many types of work are growing, including equipment operation, research and engineering technology, soil and plant sciences, farm labor contractors, and pesticide handlers. Some occupations, such as loggers, still offer openings as workers retire or leave positions, however job openings overall have slowed due to mechanization and decreased product demand.

Apprenticeships are not common in this cluster however some may be found in farm work and livestock production roles.

See some examples of careers in agriculture, food, and natural resources below. Click any link to find out more about a career, including typical responsibilities, average wages, employment projections, training requirements and more.

High school diploma or less

Short-term training and education

Bachelor’s or graduate degree

Want to see more? See list of all careers in this career cluster

Tagged with: ,

Leave a Reply