How Do I Become an Irrigation Engineer?

Jessica F. Black

To become an irrigation engineer, you'll be required to earn a minimum of a bachelor's degree. Depending on the company and the position that you are interested in, you may also need to pursue a master's degree in a related field. This field is based on mathematics, science, and technology. Some students choose to become involved with the scientific community outside of their coursework, which can begin to familiarize you with different aspects of the field.

An irrigation engineer designs different water management systems for agricultural areas.
An irrigation engineer designs different water management systems for agricultural areas.

Due to the technical nature of this profession and the required ability to design and construct large irrigation systems, your coursework should be heavily based on geological and technical sciences. In addition to engineering classes, you'll be expected to complete courses in science and math, beginning as early as high school. Geometry, trigonometry, calculus and chemistry are all typically required subjects.

You will also need to enroll in some basic engineering courses before working on irrigation based topics. Some general coursework may include studying construction drawings, soil mechanics, and hydraulics. Many of these classes may take place in a laboratory, which can provide you with some basic hands-on training. Irrigation topics that may prepare you to become an irrigation engineer usually include water conveyance, irrigation system maintenance, and different design approaches. Geology courses can be helpful as well as you prepare to become an irrigation engineer, as this is a directly related field.

There are a number of companies and organizations that offer internships in irrigation that can be extremely helpful in preparing you for your future career. Internships present several advantages, including the ability to observe designers, builders, and other workers in the field. Often, internships can become paid positions after educational requirements have been met, and they can also provide you with valuable references as well as experience. Future employers may also provide you with on-the-job training and previous experience in the field may prepare you to excel in job training.

There are many different positions offered in this profession. This may include becoming an irrigation or landscape manager, irrigation systems specialist, or a water control systems salesperson. Some management and specialist positions may require a master's degree, and continuing education is often important to employers. Many of these positions may also require that you handle heavy equipment, so good physical health can also be important in this career.

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