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How do I Become an Agronomist?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 30 October 2016
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Someone who wants to become an agronomist, a person who studies crops with the aim of improving quality and efficiency, will need, at a minimum, a bachelor's degree in agricultural science, agronomy, or a related topic. In many regions, people pursue graduate education and may also apply for certification through a professional organization. For some jobs, people must have a certification, and advanced qualifications will also help people find more work, negotiate for better wages, and access professional benefits like conferences and continuing education opportunities.

High school students who think they may want to pursue careers in agronomy can get started early by taking more math and science classes, and checking to see if they can take courses at a local college. Many colleges accept high school students in entry level classes, and this can be a good head start for someone who wants to become an agronomist. It may be possible to take care of some prerequisite courses, as well as taking some basic agricultural education to learn more about agronomy and the types of work available in this field.

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In college, students will need to meet the graduation requirements for an agriculture degree and may want to seek out electives with a focus on agronomy. A person who wants to become an agronomist could also pursue internships and research opportunities while in college. This can provide valuable experience and will get students started on a career. Internships are available through government agencies, as well as private companies, and agricultural colleges often have researchers on staff who need student assistants.

It is possible to become an agronomist with just a bachelor of science degree, and to learn on the job. People may want to consider masters' degrees, however, especially if they plan to work in research. Having an advanced degree provides opportunities for designing and conducting research and will make job applicants more appealing, an important consideration for people worried about supporting themselves after graduation.

Professional certification usually requires meeting education requirements and working for at least two years as an agronomist. People can apply and take an exam to become an agronomist with membership in a professional organization. This will open up more job opportunities. Typically, people must attend continuing education classes to keep up with advances in the field and retain their certifications. If certifications lapse, people can talk with the organization to find out what they need to do in order to become members in good standing again.

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