Precision Agriculture Hires Are In-Demand

Precision Agriculture Hires Are In-Demand

| By: Britten, Casey

The following article was published on March 6, 2017 on, and features commentary by FVTC Agriculture Instructor Zachary Ward.

2017 Precision Farming Dealer Summit

Diversity, flexibility and hands-on experience are three desirable inclusions a recent graduate looks for in a precision farming job within a dealership.

As many dealers can attest, finding the right fit — mechanically, technologically and culturally — is one of the greatest challenges to growing a precision farming business. But it doesn’t always have to be, says Zachary Ward, agricultural technologies instructor with Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wis.

“One of the questions I often get is, ‘Why aren’t there that many precision ag programs at schools?’ and the reason is because there’s just not a calling or demand from dealers to tell us what they want,” Ward says. “It’s up to dealers to let us know what skills, traits and qualities they need in new hires, so we can assist in teaching and providing those qualities when students graduate.”

Even the most astute new hires still tend to endure a learning curve — in some cases a 3-year training cycle — which is why dealers are advised to groom potential precision specialists early in their academic careers.

Ward notes a trend toward early interaction with students showing an aptitude or interest in technology, either at the high school or even middle school level.

“When making a sales call to a farmer, some dealers will involve the son or daughter and try and identify those job candidates early and then coach or mentor them through college,” Ward says.

With technology adoption a part of everyday life, dealers are looking beyond technical know-how when recruiting new hires. Finding a refined set of “soft skills” are attractive qualities dealers seek in the next generation of precision specialist.

“Communication, work ethic and having a good head on their shoulders are traits dealers look for in precision candidates,” Ward says. “In some instances, dealers are using personality tests to identify these soft skills because it’s not always easy to get those from a half-hour or 60-minute interview.”

Learn more about the FVTC Precision Agriculture program >>