Agricultural engineers perform and supervise engineering work related to the use and development of agricultural land, buildings, machines and equipment.
Graduate agricultural engineers usually earn
$45K-$50K per year
Agricultural engineers with four to six years' experience usually earn
$70K-$100K per year
Pay for agricultural engineers varies depending on their qualifications, experience, and employer. According to industry sources:
- Graduate engineers usually earn between $45,000 and $50,000 a year.
- Agricultural engineers with four to six years' experience can expect to earn between $70,000 and $100,000.
- Those with 10 or more years' experience may earn over $100,000.
What you will do
Agricultural engineers may do some or all of the following:
- determine clients' requirements
- research the use of energy sources, machinery and materials
- study the environmental and safety aspects of planned work
- prepare plans and drawings of machines, machine parts or machinery systems
- use computer-aided design (CAD) software to design and model plans
- prepare cost estimates for jobs
- design and supervise the building, installation, repair and replacement of systems
- review and test new systems.
Skills and knowledge
Agricultural engineers need to have:
- knowledge of mechanical and agricultural processes
- knowledge of physics
- knowledge of safety regulations and quality standards
- mathematical modelling and design skills
- knowledge of relevant legislation such as the Resource Management Act, the New Zealand Building Code, local by-laws and planning regulations
- computer skills, including the ability to use computer-aided design (CAD) software.
- usually work regular business hours, but may be required to work evenings and weekends to meet deadlines
- work in factories, workshops, offices, farms, and on building sites
- may have to work around heavy machinery or at heights, or in noisy and dirty conditions
- may have to travel between sites locally or supervise projects overseas.
A Bachelor of Engineering, usually including specialist agricultural engineering papers, or equivalent is required to become an agricultural engineer.
Some employers may prefer you to have a Bachelor of Natural Resources Engineering, which is only available at the University of Canterbury.
A university entrance qualification (NCEA Level 3) is required. Useful subjects include English, maths with calculus, physics and chemistry.
Agricultural engineers need to be:
- skilled at analysing and interpreting information
- practical and logical, with good problem-solving skills
- good at planning and organising
- creative and innovative
- able to work well under pressure
- able to work independently and in a team.
Useful experience for agricultural engineers includes:
- work in building, construction, roading or agriculture
- environmental, draughting or surveying work
- practical work such as site investigations or geotechnical testing.
Agricultural engineers need to have a reasonable level of physical fitness, as they may have to walk around farms and other remote locations.
Professional engineers who meet set requirements may apply to the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) to become a chartered professional engineer (CPEng).
- Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand website - information on becoming a chartered engineer
Find out more about training
- Association of Consulting Engineers of NZ (ACENZ)
- (04) 472 1202 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.acenz.org.nz
- (04) 473 2023 - email@example.com - www.futureintech.org.nz
- Institution of Professional Engineers NZ (IPENZ)
- (04) 473 9444 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.ipenz.org.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
According to Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment estimates, only about 150 people were working as agricultural engineers in 2012.
However, there is demand for more. As a result, agricultural engineer appears on Immigration New Zealand's long-term skill shortage list, which means the Government is actively encouraging skilled agricultural engineers from overseas to work in New Zealand.
Many farmers seeking expertise from agricultural engineers to help improve production
Agricultural engineers are in demand because:
- farmers are increasingly turning to engineers to make sure their irrigation, animal-feeding and production systems are as efficient as possible
- the growth of dairy farming has meant greater demand for engineers to design and advise on environmentally friendly effluent disposal systems
- too few students have been enrolling in agricultural engineering courses.
Types of employers varied
Most agricultural engineers work for private companies or consultancies. However, other employers include:
- dairy processing companies
- irrigation companies
- city, regional, or district councils.
- Immigration New Zealand, 'Long-term Skill Shortage List', accessed February 2013, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2013.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 'Engineers in the New Zealand Labour Market', May 2009, (www.dol.govt.nz).
Progression and specialisations
Agricultural engineers may progress to supervisory or management positions, or start their own consultancy businesses.
Last updated 19 August 2017