Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Green Job Series: Careers in Biofuels [Fourth Installment]

The biofuels industry employs a wide range of workers in a variety of occupations. This installment of The Daily Leap's green job series profiles agriculture occupations in the biofuels industry.

Agriculture Occupations

Farms are needed to grow corn, soybeans, and the other feedstocks used in making biofuels. These crops must be planted and cultivated before they are harvested and transported to grain elevators and processing plants.

Job Duties

Farmers and other agricultural managers, sometimes called growers, run establishments that produce crops that are used to make fuel. They supervise work being done by laborers and make decisions about where and when to plant various crops. They oversee the day-to-day operations of the farm or agricultural establishment.

Agricultural laborers maintain the quality of farms and crops by doing manual labor under the supervision of agricultural managers. They plant, cultivate, and harvest crops, which are used as fuel feedstocks.

Agricultural equipment operators operate farm equipment, such as tractors and combines, to sow seeds, and maintain and harvest crops.


Farmers and agricultural managers typically need a high school diploma or equivalent, although some may have a degree from an agricultural college. Prospective farmers and agricultural managers typically train and gain experience under more experienced workers. Those farmers and agricultural managers who don't have any postsecondary education may take a longer time to learn some aspects of the job.

Most agricultural laborer and equipment operator positions do not have a formal education requirement. Workers typically learn through on-the-job training. It is important for these workers to have strength and stamina because the work can be physically demanding. Good hand-eye coordination is often needed to harvest crops and operate farm machinery.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) currently does not have wage data specific to the biofuels industry. However, BLS does have green goods and services (GGS) wage data for occupations in agricultural production. The table that follows shows GGS-OCC wages for selected agricultural occupations in November 2011, for establishments that receive all of their revenue from green goods and services. The wages shown are GGS-OCC median annual wages for the United States as a whole; wages vary by employer and location.

Occupation Median annual wage
Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers $52,180
Farmworkers and laborers, crop, nursery, and greenhouse $19,130
Agricultural equipment operators $21,340

For more detailed information on agriculture occupations in the biofuels industry, click the Occupational Outlook Handbook link.

Next week’s biofuels industry installment: Plant Operations Occupations

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