An Overview of USDA Careers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is a national agency that oversees the management of food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development and nutrition. For those who are passionate about these issues, the USDA may be a perfect fit. With nearly 100,000 employees, the organization offers a diverse range of careers.

Positions in the USDA

All positions below are possible USDA career paths. All data is from

Food Safety Manager

Food safety managers are responsible for ensuring health and safety standards are met within the food production process. Common duties include designing inspection processes, inspecting food plants, food storage areas and other relevant spaces, conducting audits, teaching food safety to employees and a variety of other tasks. Although these professionals are most often employed by food processing plants, they also find work in hospitals, schools and other places that require large-scale food inspection services. Food safety managers earn an average annual salary of $64,286.

Financial Systems Analyst

Financial systems analysts are responsible for analyzing, maintaining and improving financial information technology within their organizations. Their duties may include measuring system performance, troubleshooting problems, designing processes that comply with state and federal regulations, helping users, documenting issues and a host of other tasks. These professionals must have an excellent understanding of both micro and macro economics, as well as of computer systems. Financial systems analysts earn an average annual salary of $69,813.

Deputy Director

Deputy directors are public officials who can be found at every level of government. As managers, these professionals are responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations, ensuring agency goals are completed, evaluating agency needs, strategic planning, managing budgets, supervising staff and a range of other duties. These professionals can be found in civil service fields, including agriculture. They earn an average annual salary of $98,920.

Human Resource Manager

Human resource managers oversee all aspects of personnel management within an organization. They serve as a bridge between their agency and its employees and therefore must excel at serving each party’s needs. The responsibilities of human resource managers may include recruiting and training new workers, managing employee benefit programs, recommending personnel policy changes, ensuring a harassment-free workplace and handling complaints. They earn an average annual salary of $65,205.

Agricultural Loan Officer

Agricultural loan officers are responsible for lending money to individuals or companies who are involved in agricultural ventures. They may offer products such as crop insurance or appraisal services and may accept or deny applications based on their analysis of clients’ financial data. These professionals must have a solid understanding of finance and business administration. They earn an average annual salary of $54,655.

Soil Scientist

Those who work as soil scientists are responsible for evaluating and managing the quality of soil for both plants and people. They may be responsible for collecting and analyzing data, finding solutions for soil improvement, evaluating risks at growing or construction sites and communicating this information with stakeholders. USDA soil scientists may be asked to solve specific problems, such as remedying diseases found in a certain geographic area. Soil scientist jobs usually require a bachelor’s degree. They earn an average annual salary of $55,992.

Training for a Federal Agricultural Career

Agriculture is a broad field that requires competent, educated individuals to protect the safety of the public. At Illinois College, the online Bachelor of Arts in Agribusiness Management allows those with a passion for the industry of agriculture to gain the advantage they need to move forward in the field. Designed for working adults, the online agribusiness management program allows students to earn their degree on a timeline that works for them.