Not only is the placement rate up to a healthy 86% for May 2011 ag graduates of Purdue University, but salaries of those who take full-time jobs immediately instead of pursuing a higher degree are very competitive. It's another piece of evidence that is squelching the ungrounded, unfounded rumor that swept across electronic media claiming that degrees in agriculture were amongst the most useless college degrees in America.
The salary survey was actually conducted during 2010 and 2011, and encompassed not only Purdue graduates, but graduates in agriculture form 13 other land-grant universities. Students participating in the student attended their last year of college during the 2010-2011 academic year.
The starting average salary for students who graduated with B.S. degrees in agriculture and elated professions was $38,104. The highest average was for graduates in Food Science, at $43,953 per year. Students who completed degrees in agricultural and biological engineering were close behind, at $42,356 per year. Students graduating in agricultural economics, one of the most popular disciplines for graduates at Purdue, was $42,036 per year.
Landscape architecture was not represented in the survey. Not all 14 institutions offer an undergraduate degree in landscape architecture through their respective college of agriculture. Purdue graduates responding to a Purdue-only survey of last year's graduates who are in landscape architecture reported a salary of $43, 561 per year.
Some who graduate will accept salaries that are lower, some higher. Jobs in ag communications have been accepted in the high $20,000 per year range for starting positions. Many beginning ag teachers in school systems start around $30,000 per year. Obviously, these graduates have a passion for what they do, which sometimes outweighs monetary benefits. On the flip side, students graduating in Agronomy with skills in plant breeding are commanding much higher salaries. Many of those go on to higher degrees before seeking employment. The shortage of plant breeders coming out of school to replace those reaching retirement age has caused a marked uptick in salaries offered to qualified candidates.These latter observations are based on personal anecdotal notes and not from an actual survey.