Crop and Soil Sciences’ Demand Soars

a student holds an agricultural drone

Despite global disruption, changing social patterns, and buzzworthy trends, the fact remains that everyone still eats, dresses, and breathes. Accordingly, agriculture shines as one of our country’s ongoing essential workforces. 

NC State’s Department of Crop and Soil Sciences proudly prepares students for these in-demand positions and announces historic high enrollment in the fall of 2021.

Agreement on the Opportunity

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects strong demand for agricultural job titles, 2.6-9% faster than average. Similarly, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)’s 2020-2025 Employment Opportunities for College Graduates projects continued industry demand, especially in agricultural science and engineering fields.

NC State’s Department of Crop and Soil Sciences has experienced a steady trajectory of growth increasing 44% in the last five years, with fall 2021 enrollment at a record level, even climbing 11% since the global pandemic began. 

Our modern agricultural science programs are poised to educate, train, and connect a whole new generation of agricultural and environmental professionals who will be doing just about everything in this industry — except business as usual.

students work over a laptop in an agricultural greenhouse
Students compete in the recent Ag Tech Hackathon.

Chart-Topping Degrees

Our department offers three unique undergraduate degrees with a myriad of customization options to follow student interest and to hone their specialty.

Our degree options prepare students for three of the Future Farmers of America (FFA)’s Top 5 Agriculture Careers for 2020 and six of NIFA’s projected ag growth sectors.

FFA’s Top 5 Agriculture Careers for 2020

  1. Drone technician (also crop scout, aerial applicator)  
  2. Hydrologist
  3. Agriculture communications
  4. Food science
  5. Precision agriculture technician

NIFA’s Agricultural Job Growth Markets

  • Ecommerce managers
  • Ecosystems managers
  • Crop advisors
  • Pest control specialists
  • Plant scientists
  • Food scientists
  • Sustainable biomaterials specialists
  • Water resources scientists and engineers
  • Precision agriculture specialists
  • Veterinarians

In addition to crop and soil sciences’ four-year bachelor of science degrees, we also offer two-year associate degrees and non-degree certificate options for continuing education. 

A professor shows a wheat plant to a group of agronomy students
Professor Bob Patterson teaches in both our two and four year agronomy programs.

In-Demand Graduates

Industry projections and opportunities are interesting, but job placement is where tires catch traction. 95% of our four-year students are placed in the workforce at graduation. Recent graduate employers include BASF, Bayer Crop Science, Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, NC Cooperative Extension, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Syngenta, numerous private golf courses, and municipal and professional athletic fields, among others. 

David Crouse is the Undergraduate Programs Director for the department. “Our students, trained in soil science, are some of the most in-demand graduates with environmental consulting firms hiring our alumni as fast as we can graduate them,” Crouse said.

Of our graduates, 20-30% choose to pursue advanced degrees, often here at NC State. Our department also offers advanced crop science and soil science degrees, including thesis and non-thesis master’s programs. Graduate students have access to diverse research inquiries such as crop breeding and genetics, crop production systems, soil chemistry and fertility, soil microbiology, and environmental management and conservation. 

Man in a white lab coat handles soil samples
Graduate students have access to a wide range of lab and field-based research inquiries.

Experience Required

Alumni and hiring managers stress the importance of a diverse college resume, including real-world experience. All crop and soil sciences degree programs require an internship or faculty-mentored research experience. We connect students with internship opportunities around the world through our vast alumni network and NC State’s Career Services, which maintains an extensive student and employer database.

Crop and soil sciences students also gather experience through clubs and competitions. Our department is home to six student organizations (among others in the college) that introduce our students to industry speakers, professional conferences, and skills competitions.

  • Agroecology Club
  • Agronomy Club
  • Turfgrass Club
  • Soil Judging Team
  • Forage Judging Team
  • Weed Science Team
A group of students pose with an NC State soil judging team banner
Student teams like our soil judging team compete around the country.

Assistance Available

The front doors of NC State's Williams Hall
Numerous scholarships help open doors for many students at NC State.

While college opens doors of opportunity, it can be a financial strain to some students. Our department is proud to offer $175,000 in undergraduate scholarships to our two and four-year students. An average of 53 students per year benefit from our donors’ generous financial aid. Over 470 students to date have received assistance directly from our department’s scholarships. 

In 2022, we eagerly anticipate awarding our department’s first-ever full-ride undergraduate scholarship in agronomy, graciously created by Connie and Durwood Laughinghouse.

Taking Care of Our Own

Crop and soil sciences offers many student advantages, but what’s the top benefit our students mention? A sense of small-group family. 

“The best thing about the crop & soil sciences department is that each of the faculty members truly cares about your future,” said biotechnology senior Spencer Haroldson. “I first came to NC State as a transfer student over the summer of 2018, and I was genuinely shocked at how welcoming and even excited some of the faculty members were to have me join the program.” 

Our department’s dedicated advising team includes in-building professional and faculty advisors to ease first-year students’ transition, monitor academic performance and offer resources, and assist with internships, readmissions, and alumni connections. 

No matter what our enrollment numbers register, to us each student is an individual on a unique journey. 

“We work closely with our students to ensure that they find their place at NC State – whether that’s in Williams Hall, or not. Our job is to help match their interests with the optimal degree program that leads them to a fulfilling career,” said David Crouse, Director of Undergraduate Programs in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. “Their success is our success.”

A woman sitting at a desk at NC State's Department of Crop and Soil Sciences
Brittany DesLauriers works in our Academic Programs office to advise and assist students in Crop and Soil Sciences.

Join A Growing Pack

If you are looking for an in-demand career path to a lifetime of vital impact, consider crop and soil sciences. Our students learn from topical experts, hands-on training and real-world experiences every day.  

Discover more about our undergraduate degree pathways including deep dives into our soil science and turfgrass programs. Then sign up for a no-stress email tour of the Department of Crop & Soil Sciences.  

Connecting students with careers that solve global challenges is just part of how we are growing the future.

tractor mowing a field