By DOUG GRAVES
WILMINGTON, Ohio — Job placement specialists say degrees in nursing and science are lucrative, while concentrations in philosophy, political science and even journalism should be shelved.
But what about farming? There are those in the know who say careers in agriculture couldn’t be better.
“From our perspective the outlook for the agriculture graduate is very good,” said Adam Lohrey, agriculture studies recruiter at Wilmington College. “A lot of our students are making their connections and doing the internships prior to graduating. In the past three years we’ve had 95 percent job placement rate for our graduating seniors.”
Recent agriculture and natural resources graduates with bachelors’ degrees have the third lowest rate of unemployment in the nation (7 percent), according to a 2012 study by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. The same study found that rate even lower for graduates with advanced agricultural degrees, at 2.4 percent.
“Here at Wilmington, students choose a major, then a concentration area like ag business, agronomy or animal science,” Lohrey said. “They can then have minors in equine studies or sustainability. They can even obtain a double major with the education department and become certified to teach ag education.”
The most obvious careers are directly related to the farm or ranch. There are approximately 22 million people who work in ag-related fields in the United States. Today’s agriculture offers more than 200 rewarding and challenging careers.
Wilmington College and The Ohio State University are the two schools in Ohio to offer a bachelor of science in agriculture. Wilmington has a 267-acre farm with livestock, and there are 215 students at the school in agriculture majors.
“We’ve done our research and found out that graduating agriculture students can expect to make $40,000 annually, and those in the top 15 percent academically can get as much as $60,000,” Lohrey said. “There’s growth for management at various companies these days.”
According to the Agriculture Council of America, agriculture careers include agribusiness management, agricultural and natural resources communications, building construction management, parks and recreations, tourism resources, packaging, horticulture, forestry, food science and fisheries/wildlife.
The same group says “food scientists and engineers will be in the greatest demand in the agricultural job market over the next four years. Annual job openings for these two groups are projected to be around 58,000, while the number of graduates for those jobs will be slightly more than 57,000.”
Kristen Johnson is one of four recruiters employed by Farm Credit Mid-America, a $19 billion agricultural lending cooperative providing farm and home financing to more than 100,000 agribusinesses, farmers and rural residents throughout Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee.
Farm Credit Mid-America recruits on campuses at more than two dozen colleges and universities that offer four-year degrees in agriculture across the four states.
“There’s been a substantial increase in the number of businesses participating in campus events, seeking employees from agriculture’s talent pool,” Johnson said. “A career fair that might have had 20 companies last year may have 60 this year.”
In response to the growing demand of the agricultural financing market, Farm Credit Mid-America experienced a 27 percent jump in employee numbers in the last three years and expects to add more than 100 sales and customer support positions this year.