Science & Engineering

Trends/Forecasts

Food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, and environment higher education programs will continue to produce a growing number of graduates in science, technology, engineering, USDA_SciEngand mathematics (STEM) disciplines in the next five years.

Consumer demand for nutritious and safe food will contribute to strong demand for food scientists and technologists in new product development, food processing, and food safety. As our population ages and more people retire, the demand for dietitians and nutritionists will remain strong.

Job openings in nutrition, human medicine, and healthcare will increase between 2015 and 2020. Increasing numbers of bachelor’s degree graduates in biochemistry, nutrition, applied biology, food science, animal physiology, and animal behavior will pursue professional programs and earn licenses in human medicine and healthcare.

Plant science graduates at all degree levels will find excellent career opportunities. They will find many opportunities for plant geneticists, plant pathologists, and insect biologists to develop higher-yielding crops adapted to less-than-optimal growing conditions. Demand also will be strong for expertise in production of sustainable products made from wood and other biomaterials.

Concerns surrounding evolving water use and availability, especially in the western United States, will heighten the demand for watershed scientists, hydrologists, irrigation engineers, and plant geneticists.

Over the next five years, colleges of veterinary medicine are expected to graduate slightly more Doctors of Veterinary Medicine than in the past. We likely won’t have enough veterinarians working with food animals in rural areas because of economic challenges in establishing and maintaining practices.

Food-animal nutritionists will see a continued strong employment market in research and development programs connected with feed and animal-health companies.

Increasing computerization in the nation’s food production and distribution system underscores the need for computer programming and support specialists for precision agriculture applications.

While there will be more jobs connected to the environment, there will be even more graduates in environmental science and management, soil science, natural resources, and conservation management. Because of this, graduates in most academic majors related to the environment will see a very competitive job market.

More than enough animal sciences bachelor’s degree recipients are expected in the next five years, but graduates in some specialties will fare better in the employment market than others. Most animal sciences students expect to apply to colleges of veterinary medicine or graduate programs. A few will be admitted, but more than enough animal sciences graduates will seek positions working with companion animals, equines, and animals in zoos. Graduates with expertise and experience in traditional food animal production, however, will be in demand, especially in poultry, dairy, and swine operations.

There likely will be an oversupply of college graduates with wildlife biology and wildlife management degrees. Entry positions in wildlife occupations typically require a master’s degree and related work experience.

Economic conditions have limited the personal advancement of turf science and management graduates within the golf course sector. Relatively more opportunities are available in establishing and maintaining turf for athletic or recreational uses in community, college, or professional venues.

Selected Occupations

  • Food Scientist
  • Plant Scientist
  • Veterinarian
  • Watershed Scientist
  • Biological Engineer
  • Dietitian
  • Environmental Scientist
  • Irrigation Engineer
  • Insect Biologist
  • Animal Scientist
  • Fisheries Biologist
  • Soil Scientist