The Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources cluster is about using your love of science, the environment or animals to prepare for careers that involve improving the quality and safety of food, cultivating and preserving our natural resources, and caring for animals. Agriculture is Virginia’s largest private industry, with an economic impact of $52 billion each year and providing over 300,000 jobs.
The veterinary medicine field has grown considerably due to advancements in medicine, which are comparable to healthcare for humans. Job positions in this field range from large and companion-animal veterinarians to research veterinarians, who work in laboratories. Environmental engineers will be needed to help deal with environmental laws, such as state and federal regulations regarding emissions from coal-fired power plants. This occupation also should see a wave of retirements, which will increase job opportunities for younger workers. Landscape architect positons are expected to increase due to new commercial, industrial, and residential construction projects, as well as the required maintenance of existing facilities.
Employment Projections: 2016-2026*
The Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources cluster employed approximately 70,200 Virginians in 2016 and is expected to employ nearly 3,200 over the decade, for a total of 73,400 by 2026. This represents approximately 5 percent growth in Virginia over the decade, which exceeds the projected 4 percent national average growth among all occupations in this cluster, based on Trailblazers analysis of information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
*NOTE: The methodology for classifying occupations within the cluster/pathway system has been updated since the previous data cycle (2014-24), so 2016-26 Trailblazers employment projection data may not be comparable to data from previous cycles.
For more information on occupations in the Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources Cluster, visit Trailblazers – Career and Technical Education in Virginia (PDF).
|Selected Occupation(s)||Employed in Virginia 2016||2017 Median Wage||Predominant Level of Education|
|Farmers, Ranchers, and
Other Agricultural Managers
|37,601||$83,240||High School Diploma & Work experience|
|Nonfarm Animal Caretakers||8,338||$22,380||High School Diploma & Training/Certification|
|Refuse and Recyclable Material Collectors||3,985||$29,220||High School Diploma & Certification|
|Water and Wastewater Treatment
Plant and System Operators
|3,143||$42,530||High School Diploma & Certification|
|Agricultural Equipment Operators||2,730||$30,730||High School Diploma & Certification|
|Logging Equipment Operators||1,986||$37,960||High School Diploma & Certification|
|Biological Technicians||1,840||$40,700||Bachelor's or more|
|1,360||$36,280||High School Diploma & Training & Certification|
|Natural Sciences Managers||1,316||$123,240||Bachelor's or more & Work experience|
|Environmental Engineers||1,235||$84,290||Bachelor's or more|
- Wage data: United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Virginia Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, May 2017.
- Employment projections data: Virginia Employment Commission, Virginia Long-Term Occupational Projections, 2016-2026.
- Predominant education level: Trailblazers through the Demographics and Workforce Section of the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia.
Career Cluster Planning
A resource for counselors, administrators, and educators
CTE VERSO – includes information to help local school divisions plan and schedule instructional programs. VERSO is organized by program area, with a complete listing of courses, concentration sequences, and credentials available to students as they plan for career entry and continuing education. Users may access course information by cluster or by searching for specific courses or certifications.
Development InformationInformation and tips for instructional leaders, administrators, counselors and teachers/faculty for creating a career pathway academic and career plan of study.
- Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources Cluster Information
- Checklist for Developing Career Clusters Plans of Study (Word)
Sample Academic and Career Plans of StudySchool divisions are asked to develop sample plans of study based on the courses offered within their schools, the employment needs of the region, and the post-high school educational opportunities needed for these careers. Once these sample plans are developed, they can be customized to the needs of individual students so that all students have the opportunity to have an individualized academic and career plan of study.Sample Pathway Plans of Study for Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources:
- Agribusiness Systems (Word)
- Animal Systems (Word)
- Environmental Service Systems (Word)
- Food Products & Processing Systems (Word)
- Natural Resources Systems (Word)
- Plant Systems (Word)
- Power, Structural & Technical Systems (Word)
- Blank Plan of Study (with fields) (Word)
Report: Education, Employment and Earnings: Analyzing Data from Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources
Cluster Analysis Document for Virginia
- American Society of Agronomy
- American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers
- American Veterinary Medical Association
The Career Clusters logo and its extensions are the property of the National Career Technical Foundation, as managed by NASDCTEc. Some content on this page is from the publication, R U College & Career Ready? - 2017 Edition; and is used here with permission from the Virginia Business Publications LLC and Trailblazers in the Demographics and Workforce Section of the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia.