1. K-State home
  2. »Agriculture
  3. »Agricultural Economics
  4. »Undergraduate Programs
  5. »Prospective Undergraduate Students
  6. »Career Outcomes

Department of Agricultural Economics

Career Outcomes

The Department offers instruction in job search strategies, résumé writing, interviewing, and networking through Career Services. Our faculty advisors are pleased to assist students in developing career goals and counsel as students need.

Students are encouraged to register with Career Services in the Berney Family Welcome Center on the K-State campus. Career Services provides individual and group employment assistance for graduates seeking full-time employment in their field of study and assistance for students seeking part-time employment while they complete their program.

Career fields

The following are a list of the array of fields graduates from the Department of Agricultural Economics enter into. Use the title and arrow link to learn more about each career opportunity. When you become a part of our department, faculty and advisors will gladly work with you to make sure you are on the opportune path to your career goal.

Accounting

Accountants offer a wide array of business and accounting services including public, management, and government accounting, as well as internal auditing. In each of these major fields, accountants and auditors prepare, analyze, and verify financial documents in order to provide information to clients.

Accountants: Public accountants perform a broad range of accounting, auditing, tax, and consulting activities for their clients, who may be corporations, governments, nonprofit organizations, or individuals.Consultants: Consultants offer advice in areas such as compensation or employee health care benefits; the design of accounting and data processing systems; and the selection of controls to safeguard assets.Forensic accountants: Forensic accountants investigate and interpret bankruptcies and other complex financial transactions.Management accountants: Management accountants record and analyze a corporation's financial information in addition to budgeting, performance evaluation, cost management, and asset management.Public sector accountants: Government accountants and auditors maintain and examine the records of government agencies and audit private businesses and individuals whose activities are subject to government regulations or taxation.For a career in this field the Department has several majors that will prepare you with the skill sets needed for success. Consider the following programs: Agricultural Economics – Specialty option in finance Agricultural Economics – Specialty option in accounting Agribusiness – Agribusiness option 

Agricultural Law

The legal system affects nearly every aspect of our society, from buying a home to crossing the street. Lawyers form the backbone of this vital system, linking it to society in myriad ways. For this reason, they hold positions of great responsibility and are obligated to adhere to a strict code of ethics.

Lawyers, also called attorneys, act as advocates and advisors in our society. As advocates, they represent one of the parties in criminal and civil trials by presenting evidence and arguing in court to support their client. As advisors, lawyers counsel their clients concerning their legal rights and obligations, and suggest particular courses of action in business and personal matters. Whether acting as an advocate or advisor, all attorneys research the intent of laws and judicial decisions and apply the law to the specific circumstances faced by their client. Lawyers may specialize in a number of different areas, such as bankruptcy, probate, international, or elder law.Those specializing in environmental law, for example, may represent public interest groups, waste disposal companies, or construction firms in their dealings with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other Federal and State agencies. They help clients prepare and file for licenses and applications for approval before certain activities may occur. In addition, they represent clients' interests in administrative adjudications.Demand for lawyers of this type is continuously spurred by growth of legal action in such areas as international law, agricultural law, and environmental law.

 

Business Consulting

Widespread management service firms influence how businesses, governments, and institutions make decisions and affect the lives of all Americans. Often working behind the scenes, these firms have a variety of functions.

Firms in management services offer one or more resources that clients cannot provide themselves. Usually this resource is expertise—in the form of knowledge, experience, special skills, or creativity, but sometimes the resource is time or personnel that the client cannot spare. Management consulting firms advise on almost any aspect of corporate operations, including marketing; finance; corporate strategy and organization; manufacturing and technology; information systems and data processing; electronic commerce ("e-commerce") or business; and human resources, benefits, and compensation.Depending on the nature of clients’ problems and needs, management consulting firms might advise how best to enter a new market or increase the client's share in an existing market. They might suggest how to get the most out of a computer network or which department or subsidiary should be sold, shut down, or merged. Consultation may include how to adhere to Federal environmental regulations or when to issue a new public offering of stock. Occasionally, management consulting firms also help implement their own advice.

Commodities

The securities and commodities industry includes a variety of firms and organizations that bring together buyers and sellers of securities and commodities, manage investments, and offer financial advice.

The industry is undergoing substantial change because of technology improvements, financial services deregulation, the globalization of the marketplace, and demographic. Half of all changes of the jobs in the industry are held by securities sales agents and management and financial operations workers, most of whom have a college degree. Strong employment growth is projected to result from increasing investment in securities and commodities, along with the growing need for investment advice. The high earnings of successful securities sales agents will cause keen competition for these positions particularly in larger firms. Companies that specialize in providing investment advice and portfolio management also are included in this industry. These companies range from very large mutual fund management companies to self-employed personal financial advisors, or financial planners. They also include managers of pension funds, commodity pools, trust funds, and other investment accounts. Portfolio or asset management companies direct the investment decisions for investors who have chosen to pool their assets in order to have them professionally managed. Many brokerage firms also provide these services. Personal financial advisors also can manage investments for individuals, but their main objective is to provide a formal financial plan that meets a wide range of financial needs. A relatively small number of professionals in the industry work in the exchanges, where the actual trading of securities and commodities takes place. Computers and their applications have made brokers in the exchanges much more productive and capable of handling ever-increasing volumes of trades. 

 

Finance and Insurance

Almost every firm, government agency, and organization has one or more financial managers who oversee the preparation of financial reports, direct investment activities, and implement cash management strategies. As computers are increasingly used to record and organize data, many financial managers are spending more time developing strategies and implementing the long-term goals of their organization.

The duties of financial managers vary with their specific titles, which include controller, treasurer, credit manager, and cash manager. Controllers direct the preparation of financial reports that summarize and forecast the organization's financial position, such as income statements, balance sheets, and analyses of future earnings or expenses. Controllers also are in charge of preparing special reports required by regulatory authorities. Often, controllers oversee the accounting, audit, and budget departments. Treasurers and finance officers direct the organization's financial goals, objectives, and budgets. They oversee the investment of funds and manage associated risks, supervise cash management activities, execute capital-raising strategies to support a firm's expansion, and deal with mergers and acquisitions.

 

Government Service

The Federal Government affects Americans in countless ways. It defends them from foreign aggression, represents their interests abroad, enforces laws, and administers many different programs and agencies.

Leadership development is an important part of our department and the success of our students. Of the last four K-State student body presidents, three were agricultural economics students. Our alumni have also moved beyond K-State leadership into government positions. One such example is Sam Brownback, Governor for the State of Kansas and department alumnus.Americans are particularly aware of the Federal Government when they pay their income taxes each year, but they usually do not consider the government’s role when they watch a weather forecast, purchase fresh and uncontaminated groceries, travel by highway or air, or make a deposit at their bank.Workers employed by the Federal Government play a vital role in these and many other aspects of American life. Most professional, financial operations, and office and administrative support occupations in State and local government work a standard 40-hour week in an office environment. Professional and service occupations will account for almost three-fourths of all new jobs in State and local government. Most new jobs will stem from rising demand for protective services, community and social services, health services, and information technology.

 

Human Resources

Attracting the most qualified employees and matching them to the jobs for which they are best suited is important for the success of any organization. However, many enterprises are too large to permit close contact between top management and employees. Human resources, training, and labor relations managers and specialists provide this link.

They have moved from behind-the-scenes staff work to leading the company in suggesting and changing policies. Senior management is recognizing the importance of the human resources department to their bottom line. In an effort to improve morale and productivity and limit job turnover, they also help their firms effectively use employee skills, provide training opportunities to enhance those skills, and boost employee satisfaction with their jobs and working conditions. Although some jobs in the human resources field require only limited contact with people outside the office, dealing with people is an essential part of the job.Annual salary rates for human resources workers vary according to occupation, level of experience, training, location, and size of the firm, and whether they are union members. 

 

Marketing

Market, or marketing, research analysts are concerned with the potential sales of a product or service. They analyze statistical data on past sales to predict future sales. They gather data on competitors and analyze prices, sales, and methods of marketing and distribution.

Demand for qualified market and survey researchers is and will continue to be strong. Candidates who hold an advanced degree will have the best employment prospects and advancement opportunities. Private industry provided about 9 out of 10 jobs for salaried workers, particularly economic and marketing research firms, management consulting firms, banks, securities and commodities brokers, and computer and data processing companies. A wide range of government agencies provided the remaining jobs, primarily for economists.The U.S. Departments of Labor, Agriculture, and Commerce are the largest Federal employers of economists. A number of economists and market and survey researchers combine a full-time job in government, academia, or business with part-time or consulting work in another setting. Employment of economists and market and survey researchers is concentrated in large cities. Some work abroad for companies with major international operations, for U.S. Government agencies, and for international organizations such as the World Bank and the United Nations.Economics and marketing faculties have flexible work schedules, and may divide their time among teaching, research, extension, consulting, and administration. Opportunities for economists in the coming years should be best in private industry, especially in research, testing, and consulting firms, as more companies contract out for economic research services. The growing complexity of the global economy, competition, and increased reliance on quantitative methods for analyzing the current value of future funds, business trends, sales, and purchasing should spur demand for economists.The growing need for economic analyses in virtually every industry should result in additional jobs for economists.

 

Natural Resources

Forests and range lands supply wood products, livestock forage, minerals, and water; serve as sites for recreational activities; and provide habitats for wildlife. Conservation scientists and foresters manage, develop, use, and help to protect these and other natural resources.

Nearly 3 out of 4 work for Federal, State, or local governments. A bachelor's degree with emphasis in natural resources, range management, or a related field is the minimum educational requirement. Projected average employment growth will stem from continuing emphasis on environmental protection and responsible land management.Range managers (also called range conservationists, range ecologists, or range scientists) study, manage, improve, and protect range lands to maximize their use without damaging the environment. Range lands cover about 1 billion acres of the United States, mostly in western States and Alaska. They contain many natural resources, including grass and shrubs for animal grazing, wildlife habitats, water from vast watersheds, recreation facilities, and valuable mineral and energy resources. Range managers help ranchers attain optimum livestock production by determining the number and kind of animals to graze, the grazing system to use, and the best season for grazing. At the same time, however, they maintain soil stability and vegetation for other uses such as wildlife habitats and outdoor recreation. They also plan and implement re-vegetation of disturbed sites. Soil conservationists provide technical assistance to farmers, ranchers, forest managers, State and local agencies, and others concerned with the conservation of soil, water, and related natural resources. They develop programs designed to make the most productive use of land without damaging it.

 

Operations Management

The prevalence of operations managers in the nation’s economy reflects the growing complexity of managing large organizations that require the effective use of money, materials, equipment, and people. Operations managers help determine better ways to coordinate these elements by applying analytical methods from mathematics, science, and engineering. They solve problems in different ways and propose alternative solutions to management, which then chooses the course of action that best meets the organization’s goals. In general, operations managers may be concerned with diverse issues such as top-level strategy, planning, forecasting, resource allocation, performance measurement, scheduling, the design of production facilities and systems, supply chain management, pricing, transportation and distribution, and the analysis of large databases.

The duties of the operations manager vary according to the structure and management philosophy of the employer or client. Some firms centralize operations research in one department; others use operations research in each division. Operations managers also may work closely with senior managers to identify and solve a variety of problems. Operations research analysts generally work regular hours in an office environment. Because they work on projects that are of immediate interest to top management, operations research analysts often are under pressure to meet deadlines.Employers generally prefer applicants with at least a master’s degree in operations research or a closely related field, such as computer science, engineering, business, mathematics, information systems, or management science, coupled with a bachelor’s degree in a quantitative discipline, such as economics, mathematics, or statistics. Operations managers also must be able to think logically and work well with people, and employers prefer workers with good oral and written communication skills. 

 

Production Management

American farmers, ranchers, and agricultural managers direct the activities of one of the worlds’ largest and most productive agricultural sectors. They produce enough food and fiber to meet the needs of the United States and produce a surplus for export.

Modern farming requires college training in agriculture and work experience acquired through growing up on a farm or through a number of internships now available. Value-added marketing and organic farming will provide new employment opportunities; in addition, developments in these areas are making small-scale farming economically viable again.Self-employed farmers' and ranchers' incomes vary greatly from year to year. Farmers and ranchers may be owners or tenants who rent the use of land. The type of farm they operate determines their specific tasks. They also oversee marketing activities.Agricultural managers guide and assist farmers and ranchers in maximizing the financial returns to their land by managing the day-to-day activities. Their duties and responsibilities vary widely. For example, the owner of a very large livestock farm may employ a manager to oversee a single activity, such as feeding the livestock. On the other hand, when managing a small crop farm for an absentee owner, a manager may assume responsibility for all functions, from selecting the crops to participating in planting and harvesting. Farm management firms and corporations involved in agriculture employ highly trained professional farm managers who may manage farm operations or oversee tenant operators of several farms. In these cases, managers may establish output goals; determine financial constraints; monitor production and marketing; hire, assign, and supervise workers; determine crop transportation and storage requirements; and oversee maintenance of the property and equipment. Not all agricultural managers grew up on farms or ranches.For any producer, a bachelor's degree in agribusiness is important. In addition to formal education, they need several years of work experience in the different aspects of farm and ranch operations in order to qualify for an agricultural manager position.

 

Veterinary Medicine

Veterinarians play a major role in the healthcare of pets, livestock, zoo, sporting, and laboratory animals. Some veterinarians use their skills to protect humans against diseases carried by animals and conduct clinical research on human and animal health problems. Others work in basic research, broadening the scope of fundamental theoretical knowledge, and in applied research, developing new ways to use knowledge.

Most veterinarians perform clinical work in private practices. More than one-half of these veterinarians predominately, or exclusively, treat small animals. Small animal practitioners usually care for companion animals, such as dogs and cats, birds, reptiles, rabbits, and other animals that can be kept as pets. Some veterinarians work in mixed animal practices where they see pigs, goats, sheep, and some non-domestic animals, in addition to companion animals.Veterinarians in clinical practice diagnose animal health problems; vaccinate against diseases, such as distemper and rabies; medicate animals suffering from infections or illnesses; treat and dress wounds; set fractures; perform surgery; and advise owners about animal feeding, behavior, and breeding. A small number of private practice veterinarians work exclusively with large animals, focusing mostly on horses or cows but may also care for various kinds of food animals. These veterinarians usually drive to farms or ranches to provide veterinary services for herds or individual animals. Much of this work involves preventive care to maintain the health of the food animals. These veterinarians test for and vaccinate against diseases and consult with farm or ranch owners and managers on animal production, feeding, and housing issues. They also treat and dress wounds, set fractures, and perform surgery—including cesarean sections on birthing animals. Veterinarians also euthanize animals when necessary. Other veterinarians care for zoo, aquarium, or laboratory animals.