sealPurdue News

February 2000

Ag grads to find science and marketing jobs plentiful

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The forecast for employment in agricultural careers is that students with science and marketing skills will be the most sought after by employers into the year 2005, according to a report released November 9 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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The report, "Employment Opportunities for College Graduates in the Food and Agricultural Sciences, 2000-2005," is a national study produced through a cooperative agreement between the USDA and Purdue University.

"We're expecting slightly more job opportunities than there will be students to fill those jobs," says Allan Goecker, associate director of academic programs in the Purdue School of Agriculture and principal author of the report. Annual job openings for U.S. food and agricultural sciences graduates are projected to be around 58,000, while the number of graduates for those jobs will be slightly more than 57,000.

Thirty-two percent of the job openings will be for positions in science, engineering and related specialties. Jobs in marketing, merchandising and sales will comprise another 28 percent of the employment postings.

Among the professions expected to be in greatest demand are food scientists and engineers, landscape horticulturists, plant geneticists, and outdoor recreation specialists.

Weaker employment opportunities will exist for those who provide services to farmers and ranchers. Hiring will also be down in agricultural and forest production, veterinary medicine general practices, and for some government agencies.

"Graduates who add value to raw materials produced by farmers and market those products both here and abroad will see expanding employment opportunities," Goecker says.

Four factors seem to be fueling agricultural hiring demands for the start of the next century:

• Merging and consolidating businesses. The changing business structure in food production and delivery systems is expected to have the greatest impact on agricultural jobs.

• Continuing globalization. Growing global trade is creating jobs for graduates who understand international markets.

• Changing consumer demands. The desire for greater convenience in food preparation and more time for leisure activities will generate jobs.

• Far-reaching public-policy decisions. Choices regarding food safety, environmental regulations, research, and rural development and land use will dictate job openings in those fields.

"It will not be business as usual," Goecker says. "Students graduating in the next few years are going to tackle some complex problems during their careers." He says expanding world population, changing consumer tastes and preferences, evolving business structures and shrinking natural resources will combine to create many challenges for agriculture in the next century.

Co-authors of the report were Jeffrey Gilmore, national program leader for higher education and evaluation from the USDA, and Christopher Whatley, lecturer in computer applications in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M University.

For a copy of the report, contact Food and Agricultural Careers for Tomorrow, Purdue University, 1140 Agricultural Administration Building, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907-1140.

Source: Allan Goecker, (765) 494-8473;

Writer: Beth Forbes, (765) 494-2722;

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;


Food scientists and engineers will be in the greatest demand in the agricultural job market over the next five years, according to a new Purdue-USDA study. Marketing and sales positions will comprise the next largest group of job openings. (Purdue Agricultural Communications graphic by Mindy Jasmund)

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