Aug. 29 2013 06:55 AM

Financial data from 1,500 agriculture students gives you a better feel for that number.

It's that time of year. Across the country, millions of students have returned to their chosen institution of higher education. For a quarter of these students, it's their first time stepping foot on a college campus. At the other end of the spectrum though, there are another 25 percent of students who are stepping foot in their hallowed halls for the last time, should they choose to enter the work force immediately after graduation.

For this group of students, the job search is imminent and that first salary offer can be overwhelming. As a soon-to-be graduate, what can you reasonably expect as an entry-level salary based on your major and chosen career path?

Compiling data from the college of agriculture at 16 key universities located throughout the Midwest and the South, Iowa State University's data gives you a feeling for just what that number may be. Data was collected from career services offices from December 2012 and May 2013 undergraduates.

The pretax incomes of 1,548 students were pooled to find the low, high and average salary for an array of potential careers. Additionally, 968 graduates in the agricultural colleges at these universities pursued further education.

Average salaries for recent ag graduates
Job Avg. salary Low salary High salary No. of graduates
Agricultural Economics and Business degree
Farm Management $45,568 $30,000 $93,000
Lending/Finance $44,117 $22,500 $80,000
Agricultural Education, Communication and Studies degree
Ag Education Teacher $40,762 $31,800 $60,000
Communications/Public Relations $32,281 $16,500 $45,000
Cooperative Extension System $30,407 $18,600 $38,500
Farming Operation $45,875 $30,000 $79,500
Marketing $40,340 $16,500 $60,000
Agronomy and Crop Sciences degree
Agronomist $46,500 $30,000 $66,000
Crop Scout/Consultant $42,773 $32,000 $60,000
Animal and Dairy Sciences degree
A.I. Technician/Breeding $36,500 34,000 $38,000
Farm Operation $34,013 $25,000 $46,000
Feed/Nutrition $42,611 $34,000 $52,000
Herdsman $34,500 $25,000 $42,000
Sales Representative $42,800 $30,000 $55,000
Vet Technician $25,555 $16,500 $40,000
Food Science, Human Nutrition and Dietetics degree
Quality Assurance/Control $44,417 $20,000 $60,000
Research and Development $47,886 $28,000 $60,000
Technical & Biosystems Engineering, Industrial Technology, and Packaging Services degree
Engineer, General $56,513 $33,000 $80,000
Packaging Engineer $56,128 $40,000 $72,000

Many of the schools' students who choose to attend for a dairy education have also embraced the enhanced-learning opportunities that programs like Dairy Challenge and international experiences provide. Of those that completed our recent survey of four-year programs, all but five universities participated in Dairy Challenge and/or offered international dairy opportunities.

To see the full salary break down by major and career path, click here.
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The author, Amanda Smith, was an associate editor and is an animal science graduate of Cornell University. Smith covers feeding, milk quality and heads up the World Dairy Expo Supplement. She grew up on a Medina, N.Y., dairy, and interned at a 1,700-cow western New York dairy, a large New York calf and heifer farm, and studied in New Zealand for one semester.