By New Year's Day this year, graduating senior Linsey Howell already had five job offers. Although the 21-year-old double major in agribusiness and applied economics in Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) won't receive her degree until graduation day May 5, Howell already has a start date for her new job working in grain merchandising for The Andersons: June 3.

"Thanks to the degrees I'm earning from Ohio State and the internships I've had, I was able to take the time to really consider the job offers and decide which one would be the best fit for me and what I want to do in my professional career," the Danville, Ohio, native said. "There are a lot of companies looking to hire agriculture graduates.

"The opportunities are nationwide and worldwide, if you are open to them. A lot of students in the college (CFAES) have job offers at the end of their junior year and a lot of students had jobs by the first career fair, and the ones who aren't looking for jobs have already been accepted into graduate school."

Howell is among a growing number of recent agriculture graduates and graduating seniors who are reporting strong job prospects with their agriculture and natural resources degrees in Ohio and nationwide thanks to the growing world-wide demand for food and an increasingly strong agriculture industry, experts say.

In fact, recent agriculture and natural resources graduates with bachelor's-degrees have the third lowest rates of unemployment (7%), according to a 2012 study by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce. The same study found that rate even lower for graduates with advanced agricultural degrees (2.4%).

This, as net farm income is expected to reach $128.2 billion this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That's a 14% increase over last year's $112.8 billion and the highest figure since 1973, USDA said in a statement.

 

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The Georgetown study found an overall jobless rate for recent graduates at 8.9%, based on 2009 and 2010 U.S. Census data, it said.

Strong future employment prospects ring true for many recent CFAES graduates and graduating CFAES seniors, said Bruce McPheron, vice president for agricultural administration and dean of CFAES.

Consider the following:

  • Some 92% of CFAES graduates are employed or are attending graduate school within six months of graduation
  • CFAES graduates report an average starting salary of $39,024
  • Some 72.1% of CFAES graduates reported employment within Ohio
  • More than 200 companies and organizations hired CFAES graduates last year

"We focus on providing not only the best possible technical education for our students but also help them gain leadership, communication, and teamwork skills," McPheron said.