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Frequently asked questions about A Career in Agricultural Education

Want to hear more from those living the dream?  Check out our spotlight features.

Do you still have more questions about this great career? Contact Ellen Thompson, National Teach Ag Campagin Coordinator at ethompson.naae@uky.edu.

How many ag programs are there in the United States?
Because ag education has evolved greatly in the last 25 years ag programs may look different from school to school.  Today, there are approximately 8,200 middle and high school ag education programs in all 50 states.  This does not count the hundreds of ag teachers in community and technical colleges or adult farm management instructors. 

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Does an agriculture teacher need a college degree?
Because ag education teachers have to be licensed by the state they teach in ag teachers must complete a degree program.  In most cases this means a minimum of a 4 year Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Education.  Use our website to search for a school near you that offers an ag education degree.  Most ag teachers often decide to obtain a masters degree once they start teaching as well, but this is not required in all states.    

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What classes is an agriculture teacher responsible for teaching?
Because agriculture is so broad the courses that an ag teacher might teach will vary depending on the needs of the students and the community.  Here is a list of classes that current ag teachers are teaching.  Please keep in mind you do not have to be an expert in all these areas.  You may teach three or four different classes a year or as many as 14. 

  • Animal Science/Biology
  • Veterinary Medicine
  • Environmental Science
  • Plant Science/Biology/Botany
  • Horticulture
  • Floral Design
  • Agricultural Mechanics
  • Electricity
  • Robotics
  • Aquaculture
  • Crop Science
  • Welding
  • Biotechnology

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What is the average starting salary for an agriculture teacher?
The national average salary for an ag teacher, not including summer contract or benefits, is about $42,000 per year.  The actual compensation package for an ag teacher will vary by state and school district.  The package may include health and retirement benefits, vacation, sick days, and extra-curricular duties.  Ag teachers are often contracted during the summer months for things like county fair, SAE visits, FFA camps, curriculum writing, and summer ag class.

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What are some of the college classes that an ag education degree requires?
Each school's undergraduate program is unique.  The best way to determine if the program is a good fit for you is to visit the campus and talk to those majoring in agricultural education or someone who graduated from that school.  Having an ag education major does provide you with a diverse background in agriculture.  You will take classes related to Human Relations and Diversity, General Education method courses, Agriculture specific classes like Animal Science, Crops, Welding, Horticulture, Natural Resources, in addition to a variety of science related courses.  Students with ag education degrees graduate with knowledge in a wide variety of areas.

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Do agriculture teachers keep learning once they are hired? 
Since the agriculture industry is constantly changing ag teachers must stay in tune.  Each respective state ag teachers association and the National Association of Agricultural Educators offer an array of professional development options.  This might include a workshop on small engines or a panel discussion with other ag teachers on best practices.  Once you become an ag teacher the opportunities to learn and collaborate from others is endless. 

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Are there middle school ag education programs?
Depending in which state you are certified, you may be eligible to teach agriculture at the middle school level.  Middle school agriculture education programs are quite popular in many states and provide a unique opportunity for students to learn about agriculture at a younger age.  Most traditional agriculture programs work with students in grades 7-12. 

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Who do I talk to about majoring in ag education?
The best place to start is with your own ag teacher.  If you go to a school without an ag program or just want to learn more, check out the our school finder page.  Here you will find the contact information and website for ag education degree programs all over the United States.  Other good resources might be State FFA officers, or ag teachers from surrounding schools. 

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Where do I find job listings in agriculture education for my state? We’ll add this one after I get that information updated. 

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Are resources and tools available for new ag teachers?
Ag Education is very much a family group.  Ag teachers help each other out.  That is one of the things that makes being an ag teacher so rewarding.  The relationships you build with other ag teachers by going to workshops, state and national FFA convention, and other professional settings bring satisfaction and provide support when needed.  Many states have mentoring programs for new ag teachers.  These mentors guide you through your first few years on the job and help you become successful. 

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Is there an organization that ag teachers belong to?
The National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) provides leadership, advocacy, and direction for ag teachers across the United States.  NAAE has a board of directors made up of current ag teachers who conduct business related to the profession of ag education.  Undergraduate students may join NAAE for a cost of $10 a year.  This membership entitles you to liability benefits while student teaching as well as scholarships during your undergraduate years.  In addition NAAE has paid summer internships available.  For more information about NAAE or a membership application go to http://www.naae.org

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Other than teaching, what else can I do with my ag education degree?
While the majority of ag education graduates work in school or post secondary settings, the sky is really the limit.  Because ag education majors have a background in communications, agriculture, leadership, and human relations, they are prepared for a multitude of jobs.  Ag Education graduates are employed in every field across the world from government positions to business and industry.  Even George Strait majored in Ag Education.   

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Do I have to have a farm background or have been a member of FFA to be an ag teacher?
Absolutely not!  Because agriculture is such a broad subject we need people with all experiences and backgrounds.  Urban agriculture is gaining in popularity as is the addition of ag programs in urban settings.  Did you know there are agriculture programs in Chicago and New York City?  The only things potential ag teachers should have is a strong work ethic, dependability, and a passion for working with young people through agriculture.

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 What classes should I take in High School to help prepare me for being an ag teacher?
Variety is the name of the game in agricultural education.  If possible enroll in your school's ag program and FFA.  If you do not have an ag program, take classes in math, science, speech, and theatre.  You want courses that can help you learn to express yourself and articulate your thoughts.  Try to work with other teachers in your school to arrange to teach agriculture lessons to elementary students.  Whenever possible take on leadership positions that will develop your public speaking, teamwork, problem solving, and creative skills. 

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