Food and research companies and the federal government rely on agronomists for the safe planting and production of crops. Agronomists conduct field checks to sample crops and determine the proper levels of soil moisture. They also monitor irrigation and fertilizer levels and ensure crops receive the proper nutrients. If you want to become an agronomist, you need to get a bachelor's degree in agronomy. In return, you can expect to earn a salary averaging more than $60,000 annually.
Salary and Qualifications
The average annual salary for an agronomist was $63,000 as of 2013, according to the job site Indeed. This salary is highly commensurate with those the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports for soil and plant scientists and food scientists and technologists as of May 2012 -- $63,290 and $64,140 per year, respectively. To become an agronomist, you need the minimum of a bachelor's degree in agriculture, agriculture science or agronomy. Employers may prefer that you have at least a year or more of industry experience. Other key qualifications include observation, communication, data analysis, decision-making and computer skills.
Salary by Region
In 2013, average salaries for agronomists varied the most within the West region, according to Indeed, where they earned the highest salaries of $69,000 in California and lowest of $42,000 in Maine. Those in the Midwest made $47,000 to $69,000 per year in South Dakota and Illinois, respectively. If you worked as an agronomist in Maine or New York, you'd make $54,000 or $77,000, respectively -- the lowest and highest earnings in the Northeast. In the South region, you'd make the most in Washington, D.C., or least in Louisiana at $75,000 or $54,000, respectively.
An agronomist may earn higher salaries in certain industries, especially those in which soil and plant scientists, the closest related career, earn more. For example, soil and plant scientists earned some of the highest salaries of $78,790 working for the federal government, based on 2012 BLS data. They also earned relatively high salaries of $66,210 in the scientific research and development services industry -- versus the industry average of $63,290 for all soil and plant scientists. You also may earn more as an agronomist working for the federal government or a scientific research and development firm. Your salary may also be higher if you work for a large company, which has the financial resources to pay the higher salary.
The BLS doesn't forecast jobs for agronomists. It does project a 10 percent increase in employment for the similar careers of agricultural and food scientists from 2010 to 2020, which is statistically about average. The growing demand for new and safer food products may increase jobs for agronomists, as it should for agricultural and food scientists. You will find the majority of job opportunities in the private sector, as companies need more agronomists to develop new foods and drugs, and ensure that consumers receive safe and quality products.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: What Agricultural and Food Scientists Do
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: How to Become an Agricultural or Food Scientist
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Agricultural and Food Scientists: Job Outlook
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Soil and Plant Scientist
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Food Scientists and Technologists
- Indeed: Agronomist Salary
- Indeed: Agronomist Salary in Maine, and New York
- Indeed: Agronomist Salary in Hawaii, and California
- Indeed: Agronomist Salary in Louisiana, and Washington, DC
- Indeed: Agronomist Salary in South Dakota, and Illinois
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