Agricultural and food science technicians typically need an associate's degree in biology, chemistry, crop or animal science, or a related field. Many positions require a bachelor's degree. For those positions requiring only a high school diploma, technicians typically need to have previous work experience. Technicians often receive on-the-job training that may cover topics such as production techniques, personal hygiene, and sanitation procedures.
Students interested in this occupation should take as many high school science and math classes as possible. A solid background in applied chemistry, biology, physics, math, and statistics is important. Knowledge of how to use spreadsheets and databases also may be necessary.
Agricultural and food science technicians typically need an associate's degree in biology, chemistry, crop or animal science, or a related field from an accredited college or university. Many agricultural and food science technician positions require a bachelor's degree. While in college, prospective technicians learn through a combination of technical instruction and hands-on experiences, such as internships.
Some agricultural and food science technicians successfully enter the occupation with a high school diploma but typically need related work experience and on-the-job training that may last a year or more.
A background in the biological or chemical sciences is important for most agricultural and food science technicians. Students may find it helpful to take courses in biology, chemistry, plant or animal science, and agricultural engineering as part of their programs. Many schools offer internships, cooperative-education, and other programs designed to provide hands-on experience and enhance employment prospects.
Agricultural and food science technicians typically undergo on-the-job training. Various federal government regulations outline the types of training needed for technicians, which varies according to the work environment and specific job requirements. Training may cover topics such as production techniques, personal hygiene, and sanitation procedures.
Analytical skills. Agricultural and food science technicians must conduct a variety of observations and on-site measurements, all of which require precision and accuracy.
Communication skills. Agricultural and food science technicians must be able to understand and give clear instructions, keep detailed records, and, occasionally, write reports.
Critical-thinking skills. Agricultural and food science technicians reach conclusions through sound reasoning and judgment. They determine how to improve food quality and must test products for a variety of safety standards.
Interpersonal skills. Agricultural and food science technicians need to work well with others. They may supervise agricultural and food science workers and receive instruction from scientists or specialists, so effective communication is critical.
Physical stamina. Agricultural and food science technicians who work in manufacturing or agricultural settings may need to stand for long periods, lift objects, and generally perform physical labor.
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
Workers who enter the occupation with only a high school diploma often must have years of experience in a related occupation during which they develop their knowledge of agriculture or manufacturing processes. For more information, see the profiles on food and tobacco processing workers and agricultural workers.