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Agricultural Engineers

At a Glance

  • Work with farmers, ranchers, scientists, and engineers
  • Work both indoors and outdoors
  • May travel to plants or work sites
  • Have a bachelor's degree
  • May need a license

Career summary

Agricultural engineers design or improve farm equipment and products.

#No matching WOIS occupation

#4/11/12 lh

Agricultural engineers help farmers find the best ways to produce crops. They research seeds, fertilizers, and other farm chemicals. Some agricultural engineers design and test machinery that is used to turn soil and harvest crops. They may design machines that process and store food. Others find methods to control plant and animal diseases.

Agricultural engineers design and supervise the construction of farm buildings. They may offer advice on heating, ventilation, plumbing, and electrical systems. They discuss ideas, plans, and changes with contractors, consultants, and farmers.

A number of agricultural engineers work on power systems. They may plan irrigation, flood control, and rural electrical systems. They may also advise farmers on the use of different power sources, such as solar and wind energy.

As the world's population grows, agricultural engineers work to help farmers produce more food. They find ways to conserve resources such as water and soil. They often manage or control systems that gather information on the environment. Some agricultural engineers work to control pollution. These engineers design and build equipment to treat waste or test water quality. They may also design land reclamation projects.

Related careers

This career is part of the Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to agricultural engineers.

Common work activities

Agricultural engineers perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, agricultural engineers:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Agricultural engineers frequently:

It is important for agricultural engineers to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for agricultural engineers to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Agricultural engineers need to:


Reason and problem solve

Use math and science

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Work with things

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as an agricultural engineer, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Most students prepare for this field by earning a bachelor's degree in agricultural engineering. Many four-year colleges and universities offer this program of study. You may need between four and five years to complete this program.

Some jobs require a master's or doctoral degree (PhD). For instance, if you are interested in teaching agricultural engineering, you need a PhD.

Work experience

Working on a farm is good background for this occupation. Internships are usually a part of a four-year degree program. An internship offers you a chance to apply what you have learned in the classroom to a work situation. It also allows you to build skills and make contacts with people in the field. In addition, an internship improves your chances of finding a job.

On-the-job training

Most agricultural engineers receive one to two years of on-the-job training. New graduates work under the guidance of experienced engineers. In large companies, you may also receive formal classroom training. As you gain knowledge and experience, you receive greater independence. You also work on more difficult tasks.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum may be different from your state's graduation requirements. Engineers use math and science frequently. Try to take math classes through Calculus and science classes through Physics.

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

For entry-level jobs, most employers prefer to hire applicants who have a bachelor's degree in agricultural engineering. In a few cases, employers may hire engineers who have been trained in other areas. Employers may require a master's degree or higher for research, consulting, and managerial jobs.

Employers prefer to hire agricultural engineers who are creative and curious. They also look for people who are detail-oriented and analytical. Oral and written communication skills are also important. Employers look for people who can work on a team.

Costs to workers

Some workers may wish to join a professional association, which may have annual dues.


Engineers employed in responsible positions in government or in firms offering services to the public, or who stamp their work as being done by an engineer, must be licensed by the Washington State Department of Licensing.

Getting a license as an engineer-in-training requires:

Professional engineer licensing requirements include:

Engineers who want to be licensed must pay an exam fee to the National Council of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors and a $65 fee for the initial state exam application. After licensing, a renewal fee of $116 is due every two years. Not all engineers in Washington must be licensed.

For information on testing, contact:

National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (external link)
PO Box 1686
Clemson, SC 29633-1686

For licensing information, contact:

Washington State Department of Licensing
Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and
Land Surveyors Licensing Program (external link)

PO Box 9025
Olympia, WA 98507-9025

#Licensing info ok 1/27/16 cj (& 1/30/18 cj, plus these notes: checked NCEES Examinee Guide & website for exam fees; Chemical & Nuclear PE exams only are now computer-based (c-b) & cost $375; all other PE's exams are transitioning from paper to c-b and are still $350; couldn't find Engineer-in-Training $30 licensing fee so deleted it, 1/30/18 cj. NCEES statement mod 4/15/19

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Agricultural engineers (SOC 17-2021)

Pay Period
Washington Wages for this occupation are not available.
United States Hourly $22.36 $28.82 $37.07 $45.73 $56.18
Monthly $3,875 $4,995 $6,424 $7,925 $9,736
Yearly $46,500 $59,940 $77,110 $95,110 $116,850

Most engineers who work full time also earn benefits. Typical benefits include health insurance, sick leave, paid vacation, and a retirement plan.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook

The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Agricultural Engineers (SOC 17-2021)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 14 7.1% 16.1% 1
United States 2,600 7.7% 5.2% 200

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Jobs prospects in this occupation are expected to increase even though this is a very small occupation. There are many opportunities for agricultural engineers who design new machinery and design applications for water resource management and alternative energies. As US firms market farm equipment globally, there are more job opportunities.

Other resources

AgCareers.com (external link)
Western USA Office
AgForLife (external link)
American Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) (external link)
(This website provides a list of engineering-related programs accredited by ABET)
415 North Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (external link)
2950 Niles Road
St. Joseph, MI 49085
Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (external link)
4420 West Lincoln Way
Ames, IA 50014
Discover Engineering (external link)
eGFI - Dream Up the Future (external link)
Engineer Girl! (external link)
National Academy of Engineering
International Association of Hydrogeologists (external link)
Irrigation Association (external link)
8280 Willow Oaks Corporate Drive, Suite 400
Fairfax, VA 22031
National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (external link)
National Ground Water Association (external link)
601 Dempsey Road
Westerville, OH 43081
Society of Women Engineers (external link)
130 East Randolph Street, Suite 3500
Chicago, IL 60601
Soil and Water Conservation Society (external link)
945 SW Ankeny Road
Ankeny, IA 50023
Technology Student Association (external link)
1904 Association Drive
Reston, VA 20191-1540
Washington Business Week (external link)
PO Box 1170
Renton, WA 98057
Washington State Science & Engineering Fair (external link)


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Strong Interest Inventory

Holland occupational cluster