How to Become an Agricultural Economist


If you want to become an agricultural economist that performs research and consulting duties, you will need at least a master’s degree (and likely a Ph.D.) in agricultural economics.


To be successful in this field, you will also need to make sure this career aligns with your interest, skills, and personality traits.


Does the following describe you?


• You have an interest in current affairs

• You have an interest in economics, agriculture, math and statistics

• You have exemplary analytical, written, and oral communication skills

• You have the capacity to present complex issues in accessible fashion

• You have the ability to influence others with regards to areas in which you have expertise

• You enjoy the idea of developing economic models and solving economic problems as a career

• You enjoy the idea of being part of the decision making process in government and/or business


Below we've provided detailed information on what you'll need to work as an agricultural economist. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as salary expectations, working conditions, a list of possible employer types, and much more!



Educational Requirements

The education required for becoming an agricultural economist typically varies based on the level of responsibility you will have, and can range from a bachelor’s to a doctoral degree.


Bachelor’s Degree: Having a bachelor's degree (B.A.) in economics is typically sufficient for research assistant positions in agricultural economics. An advanced degree is required to move into research and consulting positions.


Master’s Degree: A Master of Arts (M.A.) degree in agricultural economics usually is required to work in most research and consulting jobs in this field. Many employers however, prefer researchers to have a doctoral degree.  


Doctoral Degree: Having a doctoral degree (Ph.D.) in agricultural economics will qualify you to work in virtually every research and post-secondary teaching position. It will also qualify you to work in consulting within your specialized area of agricultural economics. 





Agricultural Economist Job Description

Agricultural economists are responsible for applying knowledge of the demand for goods and services in the agricultural sector, including the analysis of production, consumption and distribution. Agricultural economists typically focus on an area of specialization, such as rural development, marketing systems or crop and livestock sciences.



General Job Duties Involved

• Determine trends in economic activity by analyzing economic data

• Devise data collection methods and use appropriate statistical methods to obtain useful information

• Collect market samples by performing research

• Develop predictions based on research

• Prepare detailed reports concerning predictions and present them to clients

• Develop client base by identifying relevant agricultural organizations and marketing services to them

• Maintain detailed understanding of agricultural production and relevant economic forces



Experience Needed

Generally, the experience needed to get into this field depends on the employer's preferences, as well as the level of expertise necessary for competence within the role.


For example, employers whose purpose is to reduce poverty in developing countries (such as the World Bank Group) often want candidates to have experience conducting operational research and analysis of agricultural markets in developing countries.


Senior and mid-level agricultural economist jobs will often require many years of experience, which can be gained by working in positions of lower-responsibility, either for the same employer or for an outside employer. 



Skills Needed to Be Successful

Agricultural economists must be familiar with the agriculture sector and institutional context of a specified region (the region to which they are assigned).


Because so much of their job involves turning the results of research and analysis into advice, agricultural economists must have exemplary analytical, written, and oral communication skills, including the ability to influence and persuade others.


They must be able to effectively conduct policy dialogue on economic and agriculture issues with senior government officials, the private sector, donor representatives, civil society, farmers and farmer communities. This involves the capacity to present complex issues in accessible fashion.


Many agricultural economists do work that is international in nature; a second language is typically an asset, or a requirement, for those seeking agricultural economist jobs.



Who Creates Jobs for Agricultural Economists?

The following types of organizations typically hire agricultural economists:


• Regional and federal government agencies

• The United Nations (including the World Food Programme and the World Bank)

• Non-profit organizations

• Colleges and universities

• Private research institutions

• Consulting firms

• Fertilizer, pesticide, or herbicide producers

• Food processing and food machinery manufacturing companies

• Other farm-related businesses





Characteristics & Traits You'll Need

In order to be successful as an agricultural consultant, you have to truly enjoy what you do. If you have the following personal traits and interests, then this career is likely well-suited for you:


• You have an interest in current affairs

• You have an interest in mathematics, statistics, business, agriculture and economics

• You enjoy developing innovative methods for solving problems

• You have a high degree of tact and sensitivity in handling confidential and sensitive information

• You take pride in paying attention to details, and being accurate in your work

• You enjoy the idea of advising, as well as persuading others as part of your work

• You enjoy the idea of developing economic models and solving economic problems as a career

• You enjoy the idea of being part of the decision making process in government and/or business



Average Salary Level

The salary level of agricultural economists can vary, typically depending on the following factors:


• Their level of education

• Their level of experience

• The size and type of their employer

• The region in which they work


Agricultural Economist Salary - Canada (Alberta): According to the 2018 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Economists and Economic Policy Researchers and Analysts occupational group earn an average salary of $92,846 per year. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available for other Canadian provinces and territories.


Agricultural Economist Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of American workers in the Economists occupational group is $91,860 per year.



Work Environment in This Profession

Working Conditions

A career as an agricultural economist is one that involves a great deal of research, report preparation, policy communication, and cooperation among various groups of stakeholders.


Their work may become quite stressful, such as when key decisions are pending, and they are under pressure, to provide accurate, timely analyses.


Work Setting

The daily work of an agricultural economist is largely independent, although they do spend time collaborating with other economists and statisticians, sometimes working on teams.


Agricultural economists are typically based out of an office. They spend much of their day using computers and large databases to compile and analyze data.


Some agricultural economists work from home, and others may be required to travel as part of their job, or to attend conferences.


Working Hours

The working hours of agricultural economists can vary, although they typically work standard, weekday working hours. They may occasionally have to work long hours, such as when finishing reports.



Agricultural Economist Jobs

Our job board below has "agricultural economist" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.





Career Advancement Opportunities

With more experience and education, agricultural consultants may advance their careers in the following ways:


• Move into mid and senior-level roles

• Move into more specialized areas of agricultural economics

• Move into self-employment (consulting)



Similar Careers in Our Database

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Agricultural Economist, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Cost Analyst

Demographic Researcher

Economic Development Officer

Economic Policy Researcher




References For This Career Guide

To find out more about what an agricultural economist does, how much they earn, and other details of this career, please consult the following resources:


Occupations in Alberta:Economist.” (March 9, 2016). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved October 20, 2019.

Occupational Outlook Handbook - Life, Physical, and Social Science:Economists.” (September 4, 2019). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved October 20, 2019.

Agricultural and Environmental Sciences:Major in Agricultural Economics.” (n.d.). McGill University website. Retrieved October 20, 2019.

Land Outputs & Yields:Agricultural Economics.” D. Gale Johnson (n.d.). Encyclopedia Britannica website. Retrieved October 20, 2019.




Scholarships Relevant to Getting the Proper Education

Looking for Canadian or American scholarships to help you on your way to becoming an agricultural economist? We’ve got you covered! Here's how to find the best-suited scholarships:


• On, our scholarship listings are sorted by major

• The “Relevant Fields of Study” section below shows what majors apply to this career

• Search scholarships by major on our Economics Scholarships page


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Relevant Fields of Study

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point for getting into this field. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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Agricultural Economist