Agriculture/Livestock Extension Agent

What is an agriculture/livestock extension agent?

The field of agricultural extension encompasses a wide range of communication and learning activities organized for rural people by professionals from different disciplines, including agriculture, agricultural marketing, health, and business studies. Extension practitioners can be found throughout the world, usually working for government agencies. They are represented by several professional organizations (such as APEN), networks (such as AGREN) and extension journals (such as Journal of Extension).
Although extension programs have many different goals, most programs fall into one of two basic categories:
(a) systems of communication that aim to change the behavior of rural people
(b) systems of communication that aim to change the knowledge of rural people
Extension agents assist producers in adopting new technologies, such as computers, decision support tools, predictive models, testing strategies, and integrated whole farm systems. They also help livestock producers identify problem areas that limit long-term productivity. They might develop and/or run educational programs that help people improve farm communications, farm management teams, manage labor effectively, develop strategic plans, and incorporate new management skills into their operations. And agents might help enable producers to better manage renewable resources, such as soil, water, nutrients, crops, buildings, equipment, and people.
The six major areas that they work in today are: 4-H Youth Development, Agriculture, Leadership Development, Natural Resources, and Community and Economic Development.

What type of education is required?

A bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Education and Extension or related area. A master’s degree is preferred but not required.  Previous work with cooperative extension is also preferred.

What is the expected salary?

The average starting salary is $41,970. Salary will increase with experience or additional education.

How can I prepare myself for a job as a Agriculture/Livestock Extension Agent while at NC State?

Understanding the breadth of local agricultural practices, as well as up and coming farming technologies are extremely important skills needed to aid producers. Taking NC State courses around agricultural education, consumer sciences, public speaking, writing, personal finance, and business all interconnect and help with understanding the  responsibilities of extension agents.

What kind of experience is required?

Significant knowledge and experience within agriculture and food systems is preferred. This may include education and experience with horticultural crops, volunteering with local 4-H clubs, working with tribal lands, and/or public nutrition programs.

Where can I find more information?

Visit for an overall look at extension through NC State.

Visit for a visual look as to what NC Extension looks like within the community.

Career Opportunities

Most extension agents work for cooperative extension programs at land-grant universities. Many of them also work with the USDA in implementing their programs and obtaining funding.