Agricultural and Food Science Technician

What Does an Agricultural and Food Science Technician Do?
Agricultural and food science technicians play an important role in the research, production and supervision of the meats and produce we eat every day. While many of the technicians’ duties are interchangeable, they have some distinguishable differences that add to the greater goal: safe, nutritional food that meets national regulations. Agricultural technicians are most interested in animal research, food production and the quality of crops and meats. They work with agricultural scientists to study plants and animals’ nutritional value, quality, and their resistance to diseases and insects. Some agricultural technicians assist with animal breeding to evaluate nutrition, while others are focused on improving the amount and quality of crops. On the other hand, food science technicians are more concerned with the laws and regulations concerning the animal or plant products they test. Much of their work involves research, testing and quality control of food additives and preservatives to ensure compliance with Food and Drug Administration policies. Agricultural and food science technicians help scientists and food technologists make foods safer, healthier and more resistant to disease or pests.

What Is the Employment and Salary Outlook for an Agricultural and Food Science Technician?
The employment and salary outlook for agricultural and food science technicians is expected to be favorable. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment rate for technicians is projected to increase by 9 percent, during the 2008-2018 decade. Researchers expect biotechnology research and agricultural science advancements to increase as it becomes more important to stabilize agricultural output and the use of natural resources. Also, technicians will be called upon to increase research of biofuels. The salary outlook for technicians is also expected to remain positive, with the best job opportunities occurring at postsecondary institutions, scientific research and development services, as well as at animal slaughtering and processing plants. Agricultural and food science technicians made an average salary of $33,990 in 2008, according to the Bureau. The top-paying industries for technicians in that same year were chemical and allied products merchant wholesalers, followed by management of companies and enterprises and local governments.

How Can I Become an Agricultural and Food Science Technician?
Your journey to become an agricultural and food science technician begins with earning an associate degree in applied science or another science technology subject. An associate degree takes about two years to complete and provides an easy transfer to a four-year college or entry into the field. During your associate degree program, you’ll take general science and math courses, as well as gain hands-on experience in lab experiments and research projects. You will obtain helpful career preparation that combines scientific principles and theory in addition to communication and teamwork challenges that will prepare you for professional work. Once you’ve completed two years of formal training, you can take your technical knowledge and trained skills to the workplace. An entry-level technician position will introduce you to the basic fundamentals of animal research, meat and produce testing procedures, as well as government regulations and safety measures.