The agriculture industry employs over 23 million people in the United States, and only about 4.6 million of those people live on a farm. So, what does the other 18.4 million people do if they don’t live on a farm?

Agriculture encompasses a wide range of career options; it’s not just for your average farmer. I want to show you five of my favorite unconventional agriculture careers.

1.) Florists: Florists create decorations with agriculture products, such as flowers, plants, and greenery. Floral management is not just about making beautiful arrangements for events. A florist has to be educated on all aspects of the many varieties of flowers and plants; such as the nutrition, climate, preservation, and overall health. You could consider them your urban plant scientists.

2.) Viticulturist: Which is someone who works at a winery or vineyard, caring for and managing grape production. There is a lot that goes into being a wine maker; it is defiantly not an easy career. Winemakers must be knowledgeable in vineyard pruning, irrigation, fertilization, nutrition, grape verities, and selection of grapes, which are all important factors that could affect the taste and consistency of wine. A viticulturist is truly an agricultural scientist and an artist.

3.) Turf -grass Manager: This is most commonly known as a golf course manager. It takes extensive science and skill to care for a healthy fairway and green. Turf scientists are educated on what grasses work best in different climates and soils, and the proper care it takes to keep them healthy. No only do turf-grass managers work at golf courses but also in lawn care, athletic fields, park sites, and grounds around corporation headquarters.

4.) Forest Ranger: A forest ranger plays a major role in protecting the natural environment, and conserving our natural resources. The major responsibility of most rangers is a forest firefighter. Fire prevention and control is a major role for a ranger. This career works hard ensure the environmental conservation, so we can continue to produce a healthy and sustainable food source.

5.) Food Scientist: This scientist usually works in the food processing industry. Many food scientists find ways to process, preserve, package, and store food properly. Some food scientists even do things such as flavor technology, they work develop the best-tasting flavor for your food. This career plays a vital role in the way your food gets from the farm to the table safely.

The agriculture industry covers such a broad spectrum of careers, many of them you would not even think twice. I like to think that everything in this world is related to agriculture in some way. Think of something as simple as a newspaper, the shirt on your back, or even your cell phone; someone in agriculture harvested the trees for your paper, woven the cotton in your shirt, and we can even go as far as the ethanol blended fuel used to deliver your cell phone to the store.

Agriculture will continue growing, and there could be a career in it for you. It’s not just for farmers.

Jesse Cler PicJesse Cler
Southern Illinois University Student


Going to college. It is about having fun, meeting new people, trying new things, and …. Graduation? Many seniors get to the end of the college adventure and realize that they need to use the degree they earned but they have no idea where to start.

As a whole, students interested in the agriculture industry are looking at endless job possibilities. The agriculture industry is full of jobs for recent college graduates; you just have to know where to start to get one.

It is hard to buckle down and think about getting a job during your first two years of college, but they are pivotal years. Most students do not realize the value of internships early on in their college career. Internships are the best way to know what you are interested in, find out what you are not interested in, and build up your experience on your resume for your future job search. But how do you find an internship?

Step one: Start by looking with companies who hold your interests. If you are an Agronomy major, looking with a seed research company. If you are an Agriculture Communications major, there are wonderful social media internship opportunities with Illinois Corn (shameless plug). Look on the company’s website or, if possible, connect with a professional that is employed there. If you know an employee do not be afraid to ask questions about internship opportunities and then look into applying to them!

The average agriculture major has 2-3 internships by the end of their college career. These internships help to make you marketable to a future employer. Many employers treat the internship as a test run for the student to see if they would be good as a future employee. So I encourage you to look into companies you may want to work for in the future and apply to an internship with them!

Step two: Networking. There is no better tool than having a good relationship with industry professionals. This can happen through an internship or joining a club. Sometimes clubs have networking opportunities where industry professionals come in and speak on a panel or speak about their career. Attend as many of these as possible and remember to take the time to introduce yourself to the speaker after the session is over. I found my career through networking with the National Agri-Marketing Association chapter at Illinois State University. I was able to meet my future boss at a speaking session my junior year and reconnect with the company again my senior year and apply for a job.

Step three: The main idea of being in college, find a job.  How do you find the job for you? Do not wait till the last minute. Get your resume reviewed by a professional or a professor. Next, start looking at job postings in the beginning of your senior year and sending in resumes. If it is possible, attend a career fair with your best suit on and resume in hand. Look on career websites, ask your professors about job postings, and check with the professionals you have connected with. You never know when you will happen upon your dream job posting.

Take every opportunity you get in college, but remember why you are there. Getting a career is the goal, right?

Cara WorkmanCara Workman
ISU Student
Follow Me on Twitter – @caraworkman