Agricultural Technician

Agricultural technicians are vital in contemporary farming, focusing on enhancing productivity and promoting sustainability. They conduct thorough tests in the field and laboratory to evaluate soil health, monitor crop conditions, and devise pest management plans. Using technologies such as drones and GPS, they achieve precise planting, fertilization, and harvesting, maximizing resource efficiency, and minimizing ecological impact. Their expertise supports farmers in making data-driven choices, leading to better crop yields, and adopting sustainable farming methods.

At a Glance

Imagine working as a sustainable farming adviser for an agricultural technology company specializing in sustainable agriculture. Your task involves introducing precision agriculture technology to a farming community facing productivity and environmental sustainability challenges.

With an educational background in agriculture focused on sustainability, you lead a team to work closely with this community. The goal is to implement advanced crop planting, monitoring, and harvesting technologies. Your team's plan includes deploying drones for aerial surveillance of crop health and GPS technology for precise planting, aiming to make farming more efficient and environmentally friendly.

Initially met with skepticism, your team conducts workshops and practical demonstrations, illustrating how these technologies can lead to better resource management, reduced environmental impact, and improved yields. You emphasize the importance of data-driven agricultural decision-making, showing farmers how to use real-time data to enhance crop management.

As the season progresses, the community begins to see the benefits. The adoption of precision agriculture improves crop yields while reducing water usage and chemical inputs. The farmers appreciate the balance between increased productivity and environmental conservation, recognizing the value of adopting new technologies.

This project transforms the local farming practices and sets a precedent for other communities to follow. Your role bridges the gap between sustainable agriculture principles and practical application, demonstrating the tangible benefits of integrating technology with traditional farming methods.

Job Duties

Duties vary from one position to the next, but in general, agricultural technicians are involved in the following activities:

  • Conduct soil tests to determine nutrients and pH levels, providing crucial data for effective crop management strategies.
  • Inspect crops regularly to identify diseases, pests, or stress, enabling prompt action to preserve health and productivity.
  • Create and apply integrated pest management strategies that combine traditional and new methods to minimize environmental damage.
  • Collect and organize agricultural data with GPS and GIS technology, enhancing farming practices and decision-making accuracy.
  • Perform experiments in fields and labs to evaluate new farming techniques, crop varieties, and products, aiming for ongoing improvements in agriculture.
  • Manage irrigation systems, set schedules, and apply technology to optimize water usage.
  • Operate and care for farm machinery and equipment, like tractors and harvesters, to maintain efficiency.
  • Promote and adopt sustainable farming methods, like crop rotation and organic practices, to lessen environmental impact.
  • Offer training and support to farmers and agricultural workers on best practices, emerging technologies, and safety measures.
  • Generate comprehensive reports on agricultural operations, results, and insights, facilitating open information exchange in agriculture.



Work Environment

Agricultural technicians operate within the office, field, and laboratory. In each of these settings, individuals in this occupation carry out various duties.

The office:

  • Analyze data from field and laboratory tests and prepare reports on soil condition, crop production, and pest control effectiveness.
  • Oversee agricultural projects, organizing timelines, budgeting, and resource allocation to ensure projects are completed efficiently and cost-effectively.
  • Use agricultural software and technology for data management, crop modelling, and enhancing precision in farming practices.
  • Act as a mediator between farmers, researchers, and other key players, promoting the exchange of information and collaborative efforts on best agricultural practices.
  • Keep current on agricultural policies and regulations to ensure that farming methods meet environmental and safety standards.
  • Create educational materials, such as manuals and presentations, to farm workers and farmers, highlighting sustainable methods and recent technological innovations.

The field:

  • Conduct regular field visits to inspect crop growth, identify signs of diseases or pests, and assess environmental conditions affecting crop health.
  • Collect soil samples from various locations on a farm to analyze for nutrient content, composition, and other vital soil health indicators.
  • Monitor crops for pest infestation and disease outbreaks, implementing preventive measures to protect crop health.
  • Operate and calibrate agricultural equipment such as tractors, planters, and harvesters for planting, cultivation, and harvesting tasks.
  • Assess and manage irrigation systems, ensuring efficient water use and adjusting schedules based on crop needs and weather conditions.
  • Execute field trials for new crop varieties, fertilizers, and pest control methods, monitoring their effectiveness and impact on crop production.

The laboratory:

  • Perform laboratory tests on soil samples and plant tissues to determine nutrient levels, contaminants, and overall health.
  • Identify and analyze pests and pathogens under the microscope, determining the most effective control strategies.
  • Engage in research and development activities, experimenting with new agricultural technologies, crop varieties, and sustainable farming techniques.
  • Conduct quality control tests on agricultural inputs like seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides to ensure they meet safety and efficacy standards.
  • Input laboratory test results into databases, using statistical software to analyze trends and provide insights for improving agricultural practices.
  • Calibrate laboratory equipment and ensure proper maintenance for accurate and reliable testing results.

Where to Work

Agricultural technicians are employed across various sectors, encompassing government agencies, corporations, and educational institutions, such as:

  • Commercial farms
  • Agricultural research institutes
  • Government agricultural departments
  • Environmental conservation organizations
  • Agriculture technology companies
  • University agricultural extension programs
  • Seed production companies
  • Organic farming cooperatives
  • Agricultural consultancy firms
  • Greenhouses and nurseries

Search for jobs on the ECO Canada Job Board.

Education and Skills


If you are considering a career as an agricultural technician, you should have a keen interest in:

  • Environmental science and sustainability practices.
  • Agricultural technology and precision farming.
  • Biology, especially plant and soil sciences.
  • Collaborate with farmers and agricultural scientists to develop and test agricultural best practices.
  • Outdoor activities, working with farm equipment and hands-on scientific research with plants and soil.

If you are a post-secondary student considering a career as an agricultural technician, the following undergraduate degree programs are most applicable:

  • Agronomy.
  • Environmental science with a concentration in agriculture.
  • Agricultural and resource economics.
  • Plant science.
  • Agriculture with a focus on sustainable agriculture.

A technical diploma is the essential educational qualification needed to become an agricultural technician; the following are the most applicable:

  • Agricultural equipment technology certificate.
  • Agribusiness management diploma.
  • Certificate in irrigation technology certificate.
  • Plant science and technology diploma.
  • Precision farming systems certificate.

Certifications recognize an agricultural technician's specialized skills and knowledge, aligning them with industry standards, which can boost your job prospects by showcasing your commitment to excellence and ensuring you contribute to safe and sustainable farming practices.

  • Certified Crop Advisor (CCA): Offered by the American Society of Agronomy and recognized in Canada, focusing on expertise in crop management.
  • Pesticide Applicator Certificate: Required by many provinces for those who apply pesticides professionally, ensuring safe and effective use of pesticides in agriculture.
  • Organic Farming Certification: Offered by various organizations, such as the Canadian Organic Growers, validating knowledge and practices in organic agriculture.

Our Environmental Professional (EP) designation can also help you progress in your chosen environmental career.


Technical Skills

  • Soil sampling and analysis
  • Crop monitoring and disease identification
  • Precision agriculture technology
  • Irrigation system management
  • Agricultural machinery operation
  • Plant genetics and breeding
  • Sustainable farming practices
  • Data management and analysis
  • Laboratory testing procedures
  • Pesticide and fertilizer application

Personal and Professional Skills

  • Problem-solving
  • Attention to detail
  • Communication skills
  • Adaptability
  • Teamwork and collaboration
  • Critical thinking
  • Leadership
  • Adaptability
  • Environmental awareness

Environmental employers look for professionals who can combine technical knowledge with soft skills. Watch our free webinar Essential Not Optional: Skills Needed to Succeed in Canada’s Environmental Industry or take our Essential Skills courses.


Role Models

Esther Bérubé

"I wanted to go into engineering because of the variety of projects and the observable immediate impact of one’s work,” says Esther Bérubé. Esther became accustomed to variety early on. Her father was a civil engineer and the family spent years living abroad in Ghana, Venezuela, Niger, and Costa Rica. The living conditions she witnessed in these developing nations greatly influenced her career choice. "I saw a lot of people living in rapidly degrading areas.

Seeing this made me want to find a career where I could make their living conditions more stable and healthy.” Today, Esther has a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering and a master’s in chemical engineering and works as a junior engineer with Golder Associates in Montreal. She spends much of her time at her desk working on a project-to-project basis. However, two or three days of every month, Esther does get out in the field. Her duties there include supervising the digging of boreholes and taking water or soil samples to monitor environmental quality. "I really do enjoy being out in the field and getting my gloved hands—and safety equipment—dirty.”

In the office, Esther’s duties are varied and they include going over project designs, making calculations, and interacting directly with the client. "They (Golder Associates) are really good that way. They have their hands in so many different projects that I experience a broad range of the steps involved in assessing and treating contaminated sites.” The variety of projects also exposes Esther to a number of different professional styles. "Each project manager and engineer has a different approach,” notes Esther.

As a junior engineer in the company, she learns a great deal from this diversity. There are some drawbacks to Esther’s job. One of the largest is the quantity of information she must absorb and understand in a limited amount of time. While that is intimidating, she continues to surprise herself. "Sometimes I get off the phone with a contractor and say to myself, "Wow, I really knew what I was talking about. And to think only months ago I didn’t know any of this!”

Esther has also realized solving project dilemmas and problems are not nearly as easy in the real world. "When I was studying engineering, every question had a solution, and it was up to the student to reach it. You always knew that the information necessary to solve the problem was provided or readily available.” It wasn’t until she started her job at Golder that she realized, in the real world, every problem still has a solution, but due to constraints of time, money, and the environment, that solution isn’t always so easily reached.

Your Impact

Agricultural engineers blend engineering principles with technology to refine agricultural methods. Their goal? To solve challenges and ramp up efficiency. This role is pivotal for the environment, as it involves developing sustainable strategies that reduce resource use and pollution. These professionals are experts in crafting water management systems, conserving soil, and weaving renewable energy into the fabric of farming operations. Their work is a cornerstone of sustainable agriculture, aiming to boost productivity while minimizing the dependence on water, soil, and harmful chemicals like fertilizers and pesticides.

Economically, agricultural engineers are game changers. They not only help in reducing operational costs but also in elevating crop yields, offering a financial benefit to farmers and bolstering the economy. On the social front, their innovations can work to ensure a reliable food supply, improve food security, and raise the standard of living for farm communities.

Agricultural engineers follow sustainable practices to mitigate the ecological impact of farming. They are at the forefront of promoting biodiversity and gearing up for climate change. With a comprehensive approach that addresses the environmental, economic, and social facets of sustainability, agricultural engineers are driving agriculture toward a future that is resilient and kinder to our planet for generations to come.


Occupational Classification

Agricultural technicians are classified into the following occupational grouping:

NOC Code: 22110 – Biological technologists and technicians

What is an NOC Code?

The National Occupation Classification (NOC) provides a standardized language for describing the work performed by Canadians in the labour market. It gives statisticians, labour market analysts, career counsellors, employers, and individual job seekers a consistent way to collect data and describe and understand the nature of work within different occupations.


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