By: Anita Keys

“What do I want to do when I grow up?” You may think this is a childhood question, but it also applies to many adults who aren’t happy in their current positions or between jobs. It could also be something your neighbor, child or grandchildren are pondering.

     Might I suggest considering the “field” of agriculture, pun intended! Nebraska has 321,000 full/ part-time jobs in ag and food sales. One out of four jobs in Nebraska is related to ag. Thus, some ag education is a good thing to have in your tool kit. 

     Agriculture is also a big business, with $25 billion in annual revenue. Here in Nebraska, it’s a dominant source of income.

     I checked the classified ads for a local town in rural Nebraska. They had over 20 job opportunities listed. In addition to the numerous opportunities in agricultural careers, you also have the chance to raise your family in a small town!

     When I say “there’s something for everyone in agriculture,” I mean it. Whether you prefer working indoors or outdoors, agriculture has something for you. If you prefer working indoors, you should check out becoming an ag economist or an ag engineer. If you prefer working outdoors, consider becoming an agronomist, aerial applicator or game warden.

     Do you prefer working by yourself or with others? If you want to work alone, look into something lab-related, like food development or computer programming. If you want to work with others, maybe you should become a food or meat inspector or go into sales.

     Do you want to work with people, animals, plants or technology? If it’s people you like, maybe you should become a human resources manager or an auctioneer. A veterinarian works with animals, as do animal nutritionists and horse chiropractors. 

If plants are your thing, become a forester, landscaper, florist or raise grapes for wine. Technology shines in precision ag, using a drone or designing signs.

     Would you prefer a rural or urban setting? Farm/ ranch managers and entomologists are mostly rural, while university professors and people doing product development generally live in the city. 

     How much education do you want? If you want to join the workforce right after high school, consider becoming a fishing or hunting guide, a farm laborer, an equipment operator or in service. If trade school and a good salary is your calling, become a welder, diesel mechanic or technician. After college, you might want to teach ag education or be a wildlife biologist. Advanced degrees can lead to careers in research, extension or as an ag lawyer.

   What kind of work do you enjoy? If you like hands-on work, become a nursery worker, an animal breeder, a farrier or an apiarist (honey bee farmer). Be an entrepreneur or design engineer if you’re more into theories or ideas. If numbers are your thing, become an accountant, a marketing specialist or a banker. Are you the creative type? Then, consider being a children’s book author about food sources or a food stylist. 

     Where do you want to be on the employment ladder? You can be the employer as a farm manager, a golf course superintendent or run the local lumber yard. Employees might get to be on the harvest crew, mow lawns or calve out cows.

     Do you prefer using words or actions? If you’re a “wordy” person, maybe you’d make a good ag broadcaster, enjoy having an ag podcast or contribute to an ag magazine. If you need action, become a grain buyer, a butcher, a crop adjuster or a chef.

     You get the idea. No matter what your preferences or passions, agriculture has something for you. 

    For more information, search agriculture careers under the Department of Education, FFA, 4-H or even the Nebraska Corn Board or Nebraska Soybean Board.