Create Assignment

This feature requires that you be logged in as a Google Classroom teacher and that you have an active class in Google Classroom.

If you are a Google Classroom teacher, please log in now.

For additional information about using Science Buddies with Google Classroom, see our FAQ.

An agricultural technician examines the base of a plant stalk

An agricultural technician could...

Determine germination yield for a new seed variety by planting and monitoring seeds in a test plot. Sprouts emerge in a seedling bed Collect samples from animals and crops to perform various experimental tests. An agricultural technician prepares to vaccinate a cow
Perform experiments to determine how to stop the spread of a plant virus. White spots spread on the leaf of a plant Maintain agricultural facilities and equipment to ensure safety and operational readiness. An agricultural technician fixes a spiked wheel on a tractor
Find out more...

Key Facts & Information

Overview As the world's population grows larger, it is important to improve the quality and yield of food crops and animal food sources. Agricultural technicians work in the forefront of this very important research area by helping scientists conduct novel experiments. If you would like to combine technology with the desire to see things grow, then read further to learn more about this exciting career.
Key Requirements Agricultural technicians must have the ability to recognize when a problem can and will arise, to recognize patterns in data sets, and have good reasoning ability
Minimum Degree Associate's degree
Subjects to Study in High School Chemistry, biology, algebra, geometry, algebra II, English; if available: computer science, applied technology
Median Salary
Agricultural Technician
U.S. Mean Annual Wage
Min Wage
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) More Slowly than Average (3% to 6%)
  • Read this interview with Carla Emms, Horticultural Consultant and Dominique Zivkovich-Brady, Science Technician.
  • Follow a day in the work life of an agricultural field representative, Joanne Booth.
  • Find out more about this career by reading this interview with Janine Ryburn, Life Sciences Technician.
Related Occupations
Source: O*Net

Training, Other Qualifications

Most agricultural technicians need an associate degree or a certificate in applied science or science-related technology. Science technicians with a high school diploma and no college degree typically begin work as trainees under the direct supervision of a more-experienced technician, and eventually earn a 2-year degree in science technology.

Whatever their degree, agricultural technicians usually need hands-on training either in school or on the job. Most can get good career preparation through 2-year formal training programs that combine the teaching of scientific principles and theory with practical hands-on application in a laboratory setting with up-to-date equipment. Graduates of bachelor's degree programs in science, who have considerable experience in laboratory-based courses, have completed internships, or have held summer jobs in laboratories, also are well qualified for science technician positions and are preferred by some employers.

Job candidates who have extensive hands-on experience with a variety of laboratory equipment, including computers and related equipment, usually require a short period of on-the-job training. Those with a high school diploma and no college degree typically begin work as trainees under the direct supervision of a more-experienced technician. Many with a high school diploma eventually earn a 2-year degree in science technology, often paid for by their employer.

Technicians usually begin work as trainees in routine positions under the direct supervision of a scientist or a more-experienced technician. As they gain experience, technicians take on more responsibility and carry out assignments under only general supervision, and some eventually become supervisors.

Education and Training

Agricultural technicians must have a high school degree, but at least 2 years of specialized training or an associate degree in applied science or science-related technology is preferred. Because employers' preferences vary, however, some science technicians have a bachelor's degree in chemistry or biology and have completed several science and math courses at a 4-year college.

Other Qualifications

Communication skills are important because technicians are often required to report their findings both orally and in writing. In addition, technicians should be able to work well with others. Because computers often are used in research and development laboratories, technicians should also have strong computer skills, especially in computer modeling. Organizational ability, an eye for detail, and skill in interpreting scientific results are important as well, as are a high mechanical aptitude, attention to detail, and analytical thinking.

Nature of the Work

Agricultural technicians work with related scientists to conduct research, development, and testing on food and other agricultural products. Agricultural technicians are involved in food, fiber, and animal research, production, and processing. Some conduct tests and experiments to improve the yield and quality of crops or to increase the resistance of plants and animals to disease, insects, or other hazards. Other agricultural technicians breed animals for the purpose of investigating nutrition. The many responsibilities of the agricultural technician include analyzing, recording, and compiling test results; ordering supplies to maintain laboratory inventory; and cleaning and sterilizing laboratory equipment.

Watch this video and learn more about the responsibilities of an agricultural technician.

As laboratory instrumentation and procedures have become more complex, the role of agricultural technicians in research and development has expanded. In addition to performing routine tasks, many technicians, under the direction of scientists, now develop and adapt laboratory procedures to achieve the best results, interpret data, and devise solutions to problems. Technicians must develop expert knowledge of laboratory equipment so that they can adjust settings when necessary and recognize when equipment is malfunctioning.

Work Environment

Agricultural technicians work under a wide variety of conditions. Some work indoors, usually in laboratories, and have regular hours. Other positions require working outdoors and in remote locations. Occasionally, irregular hours are required to monitor experiments that cannot be completed during regular working hours.

Advances in automation and information technology require technicians to operate more-sophisticated laboratory equipment. Agricultural technicians make extensive use of computers, electronic measuring equipment, and traditional experimental apparatus.

Some agricultural technicians may be exposed to hazards from equipment, chemicals, or toxic materials.

On the Job

  • Receive and prepare laboratory samples for analysis, following proper protocols to ensure that they will be stored, prepared, and disposed of efficiently and effectively.
  • Record data pertaining to experimentation, research, and animal care.
  • Collect samples from crops or animals so testing can be performed.
  • Prepare data summaries, reports, and analyses that include results, charts, and graphs to document research findings and results.
  • Adjust testing equipment and prepare culture media, following standard procedures.
  • Operate laboratory equipment such as spectrometers, nitrogen determination apparatus, air samplers, centrifuges, and potential hydrogen (pH) meters to perform tests.
  • Measure or weigh ingredients used in testing or for purposes such as animal feed.
  • Provide food and water to livestock and laboratory animals, and record details of their food consumption.
  • Plant seeds in specified areas, and count the resulting plants to determine the percentage of seeds that germinated.
  • Supervise pest or weed control operations including locating and identifying pests or weeds, selecting chemicals and application methods, scheduling application, and training operators.
  • Measure and mark plot areas, and plow, disc, level, and otherwise prepare land for cultivated crops, orchards and vineyards.
  • Conduct insect and plant disease surveys.
  • Examine animals and specimens to determine the presence of diseases or other problems.
  • Perform general nursery duties, such as propagating standard varieties of plant materials, collecting and germinating seeds, maintaining cuttings of plants, and controlling environmental conditions.
  • Operate farm machinery, including tractors, plows, mowers, combines, balers, sprayers, earthmoving equipment, and trucks.
  • Perform crop production duties, such as tilling, hoeing, pruning, weeding, and harvesting crops.
  • Devise cultural methods and environmental controls for plants for which guidelines are sketchy or nonexistent.
  • Maintain and repair agricultural facilities, equipment, and tools to ensure operational readiness, safety, and cleanliness.
  • Provide routine animal care, such as taking and recording body measurements, applying identification, and assisting in the birthing process.
  • Set up laboratory or field equipment, and prepare sites for testing.
  • Transplant trees, vegetables, or horticultural plants.
  • Supervise and train agricultural technicians and farm laborers.
  • Prepare and present agricultural demonstrations.
  • Respond to inquiries and requests from the public that do not require specialized scientific knowledge or expertise.

Source: BLS

Companies That Hire Agricultural Technicians

Explore what you might do on the job with one of these projects...

Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
What do plants need to grow? Most of us would answer that they need light, air, water, and soil. But by using a process called hydroponics, you can grow plants without soil! How does it work? Try this project and see for yourself! Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
In this project, you'll learn how to isolate DNA from onion cells, separating it from other cellular components in a manner that still preserves its structure and sequence. In the end, you'll have enough DNA to see with the unaided eye, and you'll be able to spool it to demonstrate its strand-like structure. Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
When you go to the supermarket, how do you pick out ripe fruits and vegetables? You might look at their size or color, or feel them for firmness. That might be easy to do when you pick out a half dozen apples, but imagine if you had to examine thousands of apples growing in a field, or strawberries coming down a conveyor belt getting ready for packaging. Suddenly, it is a lot harder to do yourself! What if a machine could pick and sort the produce for you? In this project, you will address part… Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
All living things have DNA inside their cells. How do scientists extract the DNA from cells in order to study it? In this science experiment you can make your own DNA extraction kit from household chemicals and use it to extract DNA from strawberries. Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
Do you know why enzymes are oftentimes called the workhorses of biochemistry? It's because they can speed up a wide variety of chemical reactions, and chemists and biologists use enzymes to do all kinds of jobs. In this project, pectinase, an enzyme frequently used in the food industry, will be used to extract juice from apples. Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
Sometimes science can be really messy or use pretty disgusting ingredients. That is what it takes to understand how the world works, even if the experiment isn't pretty. Do you like chemical reactions that stink and ooze foamy bubbles? Do you think it sounds fun to make a super gross liver smoothie? Then this is the experiment for you! Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
You might not know it, but plants are able to sense their environment and actually respond appropriately. One of the key parameters that every plant must respond to is the direction of gravity: stems go up (opposite to the pull of gravity) and roots go down (in the same direction as the force of gravity). In this project, you will construct simple devices that hold several germinating seeds, which allow you to watch how growing rootlets respond as you rotate the devices, effectively altering… Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
You have most likely witnessed the change that occurs as a banana ripens It changes from green and relatively hard to yellow and soft. The flavor also changes, from bitter to sweet. What happens during ripening? One big change is the increase in sugar content. In this food science fair project, you will measure how the sugar content of a banana changes as it ripens. Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
Plants need nitrogen to grow healthy stems and leaves. Although nitrogen is the most abundant element in the air we breathe, that form of nitrogen cannot be used by plants. Nitrogen contained in fertilizer, on the other hand, is readily taken up by plants. In this experiment, you will compare plants grown without nitrogen fertilizer to plants grown with nitrogen fertilizer. Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
Plants move—not very quickly compared to animals, but they do move. Their roots grow downward in response to gravity, and their stems grow upward toward the Sun. In this plant biology science fair project, you will investigate how young plants respond through movement to light. Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are organisms whose DNA have been manipulated to give them new traits. In genetically modified (GM) food crops traits like resistance to drought or pesticide might be added, or the crop may have been made more nutritious, or the taste may be altered to give you something like the impossible burger. Are there GMOs in your favorite foods? Many countries have implemented or are in the process of implementing GMO labeling on foods, but with a little bit of… Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
Hydrogen peroxide (often used as a disinfectant) has also been approved for use in pesticides. This science fair project investigates whether hydrogen peroxide has any effects on seed germination or on roots of plant cuttings. Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
Wondering what sustainable, high-producing agriculture might look like? This science project explores how analyzing bird's-eye-view pictures of a field can make farmers aware of variations in their fields. Farmers can use this information to optimize their farming practices, or even feed this information to high-tech agricultural equipment so the machines can automatically adjust their actions (like fertilizing or watering) to the needs of a piece of land. Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
One way to conserve water is to find safe ways to use it more than once. Here is a project to test whether greywater (water that has been used for washing or bathing) can be used for watering ornamental plants. Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
Can you imagine Valentine's Day or Halloween without chocolate? Well, if you're a chocolate lover brace yourself for the bad news. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), "Worldwide demand for cacao now exceeds production." If there isn't enough cacao, the major raw ingredient for chocolate, then the chocolate supply will dwindle. Hang on! Before you start rushing to the store to buy all the chocolate you can get your hands on, a solution is already in the works. In… Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
Chlorophyll is a natural pigment found in green plants. It is the primary pigment that absorbs light energy from the sun for photosynthesis. This energy is then used by the plant to synthesize glucose from carbon dioxide and water. Chlorophyll in the leaves of plants can be extracted and separated using chromatography. A good source of chlorophyll for an extraction is a dark green leafy vegetable like spinach. Rub a fresh spinach leaf on the bottom of a strip of filter paper. You can get a… Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
Have you ever looked around and noticed the plants and animals that grow in your neighborhood? Have you ever visited friends in another part of your city, state, or even another part of the country? Have you noticed whether the plants and animals where they live are similar to those growing near you? What would it be like to live where they do? Why do certain plants and animals grow in one area, but not in another? In this science fair project you will learn about biomes and how different… Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
Have you ever heard someone say, "that plant is thirsty" or "give that plant a drink of water"? We know that plants, and even bouquets of cut flowers, need water to survive, but have you ever thought about how the water moves within the plant? In this science project, you will use colored water and carnations to figure out where the water goes. Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
The conversion of forested to unforested areas has been occurring since humans began to impact and change their environments during the agricultural revolution. Recently deforestation has become a global problem, particularly for developing industrial countries and countries with very large populations. You can use satellite mapping resources to investigate the connection between urbanization, population growth and deforestation. You can also investigate the connection between deforestation… Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
Do you like your strawberry jelly with or without the seeds? Are you glad to have a seed-free watermelon, or do you enjoy spitting the seeds into the garden? You might not like to find seeds in your fruit, but fruit is the plant's way of dispersing seeds to make new plants. How many seeds can be dispersed for each type of fruit? As they say, in one end and out the other! Read more

Ask Questions

Do you have a specific question about a career as an Agricultural Technician that isn't answered on this page? Post your question on the Science Buddies Ask an Expert Forum.


Free science fair projects.