How to Become an Agricultural Chemist


To become an agricultural chemist, you need an interest in processes by which we obtain food for animals and ourselves. You will also need the proper education, research experience and the right personality traits.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to succeed in a career in this field, including helpful information such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Agricultural Chemist Job Description

Agricultural chemists are responsible for conducting research that covers many fields of inquiry and assists in the development of agricultural products, such as the development of molecules or chemical compounds that control a weed or other pest. They must also test compounds in order to determine the impact of included chemicals on the environment and in food.



Typical Job Duties Involved

• Confer with scientists from other fields, such as biologists, toxicologists and biochemists

• Research the chemical compositions and changes involved in the production, protection, and use of crops and livestock

• Conduct research pertaining to the processes by which humans obtain food and fiber for themselves and feed for their animals 

• Seek ways to control the causes and effects of bio-chemical reactions related to plant and animal growth

• Record detailed notes of research process

• Prepare reports and develop products based on the findings of research

• Provide technical advice for other professionals

• May be involved in the purchase and sale of chemicals



Educational Requirements

You will likely need to begin by earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry or a closely related field such as Botany, Geology or Biochemistry. Completing coursework in biology, biochemistry, human toxicology, water and soil chemistry, and geology is a great way to build an educational foundation for your prospective career as an agricultural chemist.


Depending on the requirements of the employer, a Master’s degree in Chemistry is typically sufficient for many applied research positions. To become an agricultural chemist who works in research and university teaching positions a PhD in Chemistry is needed.


Agricultural chemists must also complete continuing education throughout their careers in order to keep their skills current stay up to date with advancements in the field.





How to Get a Job as an Agricultural Chemist

Now that you have a degree, a career focus, skills in biology and research experience, you're ready to become a professional agricultural chemist! The last thing you have to do is nail the interview...once you earn one.


Your last step to becoming an agricultural chemist is to make a list of possible employers and suitable positions, and start handing out resumes. Do your research and figure out which companies are hiring chemists and related positions; these employers will be in a variety of sectors.


Tip for Success: Agricultural chemists jobs in research are typically very competitive, so ensure you have a lot of research experience on your resume!



Who Hires Agricultural Chemists?

There are employers representing different sectors of industry that are interested in the specific skill set and knowledge base of agricultural chemists. Below is an example of the types of employers that hire agricultural chemists.


• Agricultural divisions of chemical companies

• Colleges and universities

• Food companies that produce genetically modified foods

• Government agencies and departments, such as the USDA, the FDA, and the EPA

• Private research firms





Working Conditions in This Profession

Agricultural chemists are typically required to in a laboratory setting. They are often required to use specialized equipment and hazardous chemicals.


These two factors may pose safety concerns, and as a result agricultural chemists must remain alert while at the work place. Agricultural chemists may also work in a simulated environment such as a test field or test waterway.


Please Note: Working conditions for agricultural chemists can vary greatly depending on who the employer is and which job duties are required. 



Characteristics of Successful Agricultural Chemists

Even with the right education and skill set, becoming a successful agricultural chemist is not guaranteed. If you’re reading the list of personality and intellectual traits listed below, and you recognize many of the traits in yourself, you may be well suited for a career as an agricultural chemist.


• An interest in mathematics, statistics and science

• Excellent oral and written communication skills

• Able to use logic and reasoning to solve problems

• Enjoy conducting research and synthesizing information

• Must enjoy working with specialized equipment and instruments

• Attention to detail and excellent observation skills

• Strong organizational skills and ability to keep detailed records

• Ability to excel in a team environment and effectively deal with difference in opinion



Typical Salary Level

It's difficult to determine how much you could earn in this profession, as it is very difficult to acquire accurate information regarding the salary levels of these specialized chemists. The U.S Labor and Statistics reports that the median salary for Agricultural and Food Scientists, which includes agricultural chemists, was $58,450 USD per year.


These specific salary figures for Canadian agricultural chemists are equally difficult to come by. According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, professionals working the in Chemists occupational group in Alberta earned an average wage of $28.03 to $45.00 CAD per hour.


Please Note: Salary levels can vary greatly for agricultural chemists, depending on the level of education, the employer size and type of their employer, and the amount of experience of the chemist.



Agricultural Chemistry Jobs

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





Similar Careers in Our Database

Listed below are jobs that are similar in nature to 'agricultural chemist', as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Environmental Chemist

Food Chemist

Organic Chemist

Petroleum Chemist

Pharmaceutical Chemist



Sources for This Career Guide

Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as an agricultural chemist.


Occupations in Alberta:Chemist.” (March 5, 2018). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved October 20, 2019.

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

Areas of Study:Agricultural Chemistry.” (n.d.). The University of Sydney website. Retrieved October 20, 2019.



Scholarships for Relevant Fields of Study

Scholarships listed for majors that are relevant for this occupation can be found on our Botany Scholarships and Chemistry Scholarships pages.


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 to becoming an agricultural chemist. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


Top Banner Image: 
Top Banner Image Title: 
Agricultural Chemist