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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Job Prospects Promising in Agriculture, Home Economics

LAS CRUCES -- Graduates earning their degrees in agriculture and home economics have something to cheer about besides spring commencement: a surplus of jobs in their fields.

In fact, a national report shows nearly a 5 percent shortfall of qualified applicants for jobs in food and agricultural sciences, a trend expected to continue at least through the year 2000. Purdue University conducted the study of employment opportunities with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"Most of these jobs are downstream from the farm and ranch," said Lynn Robbins, associate dean with New Mexico State University's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences . "That means they're in areas like dietetics and food processing, supermarket, hotel or restaurant management, merchandising and sales, and environmental science and research and product development."

A bachelor's degree in agriculture or related fields can be a good career investment, according to figures from a Census Bureau report.

"After engineering, agricultural jobs had the second-highest monthly salaries among the top five areas," Robbins said. "It shows that in addition to being available, jobs in these fields have salaries that are very competitive."

Economics, mathematics/statistics and business/management rounded out the list of most valuable bachelor's degrees.

In spite of that good news, the job market is expected to be among the toughest in 20 years. For agricultural graduates, the hardest fields to break into will be production, communications and education. The edge will go to applicants with strong communication skills, foreign language proficiency, internships and international experience, the Purdue report said.

"We've had high placement rates for all our majors," Robbins noted. "That may be because of regional differences or some of the extra experience our students get here. For whatever reason, we haven't experienced the tightening in areas the report predicted."

For more information about agricultural careers, contact Robbins' office at (800) 400-1807.