Scope Of Agricultural Biology Careers: A Complete Guide
Updated 30 September 2022
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Climate change, population growth and dwindling ecosystems are significant challenges to global agricultural production. Many organisations seek educated professionals to help increase the scale and efficiency of food production. A degree in agricultural biology can equip you with the right skills and knowledge to solve these challenges. In this article, we explore the scope of agricultural biology careers, skills, specialisations and types of jobs in agriculture or related fields and share a step-by-step guide on becoming an agricultural biologist.
Scope of agricultural biology careers
If you are interested in agricultural biology careers, understanding the scope and opportunities available in the field can help you decide if this is the right career path for you. An agricultural biologist or agrobiologist works on enhancing and protecting the agricultural ecosystem by focusing on environmental sustainability and optimised food production. Agrobiologists typically have various career options to pursue. Generally, they work at farms, state and national parks or for companies involved in the agricultural business and allied industries.
Some agricultural biologists also work in scientific research laboratories focusing on finding solutions to agricultural challenges. They can also work directly in food production and supply, helping employers implement a robust food supply chain. Agricultural biologists interested in teaching can pursue a career in academia, training the next generation of professionals in the field. They can also participate in outreach educational programmes creating awareness of plants, insects, microbes and their impact on the general public. Agrobiologists with a passion for entrepreneurship can also start their own companies offering innovative agricultural products and services.
What is agricultural biology?
Agricultural biology studies the complex biological systems of soil, plants and animals in the agricultural sector. This branch of agricultural science focuses on healthy food production while decreasing the environmental impacts of modern agriculture. Professionals apply their natural science knowledge to contemporary agricultural problems to optimise and enhance production while minimising ecological damages. Agricultural biologists use their knowledge to address various challenges like:
ensuring global food security
producing high-quality food using modern agricultural practices
developing environmentally friendly and sustainable food production processes
implementing consumer protection
preserving of biodiversity and the associated ecosystems
balancing economy and ethics
ensuring animal health, animal welfare and animal protection
producing renewable raw materials and bioenergy
implementing social security in rural areas
Related: B.Sc. Agriculture Scope (Jobs, Career Growth And Salary)
Agricultural biology specialisations
Students pursuing agricultural biology can tailor their elective courses in any of the following areas:
Agronomy: This is the branch of agricultural science that focuses on crop production and soil management. It specialises in applying biotechnology principles to improve crop production and protect the environment from the adverse impacts of agriculture.
Horticulture: This is the branch of agriculture that focuses on cultivating garden crops, fruits, vegetables, medicinal plants and aesthetical plants. Agrobiologists apply their knowledge to increase the production of horticultural plants while minimising environmental damages.
Agricultural Engineering: This is a sub-branch of engineering that studies the scope of agricultural production and food processing. It combines the various engineering disciplines like mechanical, civil, chemical and electrical engineering with agrarian principles.
Agricultural Economics: This is a branch of applied economics that focuses on the cost of farming. It utilises both macro- and microeconomics to increase food production revenues while minimising the cost of production.
Related: How To Become An Agricultural Engineer
Skills required for agricultural biologists
If you wish to pursue a career as an agricultural biologist, developing the following skills can help you excel in your role and advance in your career:
Adaptability: Being adaptable helps agricultural biologists transfer their theoretical classroom knowledge to real-life situations. Adaptability also helps professionals keep themselves relevant by changing their working styles and ideas to suit changing consumer and ecological needs.
Interpersonal and teamwork skills: Agricultural biologists work as part of a large team and interact with people from different professions, including farmers, crop breeders, animal rearers, entrepreneurs and executives. Interpersonal and teamwork can help you work efficiently with other professionals, delivering effective results as a team.
Patience: Agrobiologists usually wait for weeks, months or even years to track experiments and see results. The work of an agricultural biologist takes time, and being patient and consistent can help you stay motivated during long project cycles.
Attention to detail: When working in lab settings, agricultural biologists focus on minute details to track project changes and to ensure the success of their experiments. Following protocols and guidelines consistently with a particular focus on the minute details can help you daily in your line of work.
Analytical and critical thinking skills: Agricultural biologists usually collate, analyse and interpret large volumes of numerical and visual data, primarily when they work in clinical laboratory settings. Analytical and critical thinking skills can help you analyse data to find valuable insights.
Technical skills: With rapid changes in agriculture, these professionals use various advanced tools and technologies in their jobs. Technical proficiency can help you adopt these tools efficiently, saving you time and effort in your daily tasks.
Types of jobs in agricultural biology
As agriculture is an industry that sees perennial demand, there are multiple job options to consider. Some of the popular roles that you can pursue after a formal degree in agricultural biology include:
Food Production Manager
Rural Practise Surveyor/Inspector
Soil Diagnostician/Soil Inspector
Animal or Plant Geneticist
Besides the jobs listed above, there are several other allied roles where your agricultural biology degree can help you. Some of these allied roles include:
Agricultural Magazine Journalist
Field Trials Officer
Agricultural Product Sales Executive
Commercial Animal Farm Breeder
Related: 9 Popular Agricultural Careers That Are Worth Pursuing
How to become an agricultural biologist
Here is a step-by-step guide to help you develop your career as an agricultural biologist:
1. Complete higher secondary education
The first step to becoming an agricultural biologist is to complete higher secondary education in the required subjects. Most colleges and universities require candidates to complete 10+2 schooling with biology, chemistry and physics as the major subjects. Also, students usually require a minimum of 50% marks in all these three subjects to apply for a bachelor's degree in agricultural biology. Some universities also require students to take a standard entrance examination before admission. Ensure that you review the eligibility requirements at your preferred college or university before applying for a bachelor's degree.
2. Get a bachelor's degree
Completing a bachelor's course like B.Sc Agricultural Biology can help you enter the field directly after graduation. You can also explore other career opportunities during the bachelor's programme, like applying for a research assistant position at your college laboratory. These engagements provide you with practical insights and experience that can help you when applying for a job and also improve your networking opportunities in the industry.
3. Get a master's degree
While a master's degree is not mandatory, applying for a post-graduate course in agricultural biology can help in deepening your knowledge of the field. Additionally, a master's degree can also help career advancement and is a primary requirement for teaching jobs in colleges and universities. Candidates who have a B.Sc in the following subjects are eligible to apply for M.Sc Agricultural Biology:
Food Science and Biotechnology
Most colleges conduct an entrance examination for admission to their PG programmes. Check the syllabus and test date of your preferred college or university and submit your application accordingly.
4. Gain work experience
Most companies, laboratories and other institutions give an advantage to candidates with practical work experience. Try to build work experience during your education or after. The easiest way to gain valuable work experience is by joining an entry-level job or applying for internships in your preferred field of specialisation. Industry training and internship programmes can also help you gain a clear understanding of the field and the available job opportunities, helping you decide your area of interest.
Related: How To Find Student Internships (With Duties And Benefits)
5. Work on a doctorate
If you are interested in teaching or working at a university or government research facility, a doctorate can help you achieve your goals. Completing a PhD in agricultural biology equips you with essential training in laboratory research and field-based work. Different universities have varying requirements for a doctorate. Most universities require candidates to have a minimum of 55% aggregate scores in their post-graduate degree and a few years of practical work experience to apply for their doctorate programmes.
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