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Liam McCaul

R&D Engineer

Sustainable Energy Authority

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  Liam McCaul
Do your best to find out the most you can about your specific engineering category, whether it be Electronics, Mechanical, Civil etc. Approach companies to try and get experience whilst you are at college, that way you have a running start on how to use the most up to date packages and instruments that companies have, and that then gets you the work experience when you finish college.

The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with clever technology. They will often follow the latest developments in their chosen field, and prefer mentally stimulating environments.
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Engineer - Biosystems / Agriculture / Food

Job Zone

Most of these occupations require qualifications at NFQ Levels 7 or 8 (Ordinary / Honours Degrees) but some do not.

Related Experience
A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for these occupations. For example, an engineer must complete four years of college and work for several years in engineering to be considered qualified.

Job Training
Employees in these occupations usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

Job Zone Examples
Many of these occupations involve coordinating, supervising, managing, or training others. Examples include accountants, sales managers, computer programmers, teachers, chemists, environmental engineers, criminal investigators, and financial analysts.

€25k >  
Engineer - Agricultural
Salary Range
(thousands per year)*
€25 -  
Related Information:
Data Source(s):

Last Updated: March, 2013

* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.
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At a Glance... header image

Works on the design and development of new agricultural methods, machinery, and systems towards solving problems facing the global ecosystem.

The Work header image

With the global population rapidly growing resulting in an ever-increasing demand for food and new energy resources there is a significant demand for biosystems, agriculture and food engineers.

The biosystems, agriculture and food engineering team have an extremely rewarding and challenging career delivering drink, foodstuffs and biomaterials to meet these demands within extreme environmental and resource limitations. The team is focused on every aspect of the food chain from environmental protection to food production to distribution, applying technology to turn raw materials into everyday foodstuffs such as pasta, pizza and ice cream.

Biosystems, agriculture and food engineering graduates find work at the forefront of advancing technology, developing and designing new methods and machinery to solve problems facing our global ecosystem.

They combine the principles of engineering and biology to create and design systems that will deliver high quality, economical and safe food to consumers. Their work ranges from developing responsible, environmentally friendly uses for food production by-products and for water, air and soil quality protection to the design of improved methods and equipment to process, handle, package and store food produce.

Challenging employment is available for agricultural and food engineers at home and overseas in a wide variety of organisations. These include food processors and manufacturers, equipment manufacturers, consultant engineering firms, agribusiness organisations, research institutes, environmental protection organisations, government agencies and Third World development organisations. They also can work with other specialists like microbiologists and geneticists. 

Job opportunities also arise in design and development work with the national and international farm machinery manufacturing industry.

Employers include manufacturing companies, research organisations, agribusiness organisations, government agencies and local authorities, as well as significant employers such as Coca Cola, Dawn Meats, Glanbia, Diageo and Kerry Group.

Salaries will vary according to company but graduates should expect starting salaries of EUR25k to EUR30k a year. This can increase considerably with experience and further qualifications.


Tasks & Activitiesheader image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported tasks and activities for this occupation


Prepare reports, sketches, working drawings, specifications, proposals, and budgets for proposed sites or systems.


Provide advice on water quality and issues related to pollution management, river control, and ground and surface water resources.


Design and supervise environmental and land reclamation projects in agriculture and related industries.


Design agricultural machinery components and equipment using computer-aided design (CAD) technology.


Discuss plans with clients, contractors, consultants, and other engineers so that they can be evaluated and necessary changes made.


Design food processing plants and related mechanical systems.


Plan and direct construction of rural electric-power distribution systems, and irrigation, drainage, and flood control systems for soil and water conservation.


Supervise food processing or manufacturing plant operations.


Design structures for crop storage, animal shelter and loading, and animal and crop processing, and supervise their construction.


Test agricultural machinery and equipment to ensure adequate performance.

Work Activities header image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported work activities in this occupation.


Making Decisions and Solving Problems:  Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.


Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment:  Providing documentation, detailed instructions, drawings, or specifications to tell others about how devices, parts, equipment, or structures are to be fabricated, constructed, assembled, modified, maintained, or used.


Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge:  Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.


Processing Information:  Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.


Analyzing Data or Information:  Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.


Thinking Creatively:  Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.


Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others:  Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.


Getting Information:  Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.


Provide Consultation and Advice to Others:  Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.


Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates:  Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

Knowledge header image

The following is a list of the five most commonly reported knowledge areas for this occupation.


Engineering and Technology:  Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.


Design:  Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.


Mathematics:  Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.


Physics:  Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.


Mechanical:  Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.

Skillsheader image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported skills used in this occupation.


Reading Comprehension:   Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.


Critical Thinking:   Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.


Complex Problem Solving:   Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.


Writing:   Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.


Active Listening:   Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.


Judgment and Decision Making:   Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.


Active Learning:   Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.


Monitoring:   Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.


Mathematics:   Using mathematics to solve problems.


Speaking:   Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Personal Qualitiesheader image

As well as engineering expertise (including mechanical, hydraulic and electronic systems), you will need an understanding of the types of problems that exist in the agri-food and related industries.   
You will need to combine technical ability with creativity and imagination to solve these problems.   
This is an area where technology is advancing quickly, so you must be willing to learn and develop new knowledge to keep up. Therefore an analytical and enquiring mind is required also.   
You must have organisational skills to plan and co-ordinate resources. You also need good communication skills, to explain engineering systems and equipment to people from non-engineering backgrounds.

Entry Routesheader image

Biosystems, agriculture and food engineers can find work in many areas, including:

  • The food and drink industry
  • Research institutes
  • Agricultural and environmental agencies
  • Government bodies 

Engineers have normally complete an appropriate engineering degree in Agricultural Engineering. 

Entrants also come from other engineering backgrounds, especially in Mechanical Engineering. Post-graduate study is an advantage.

Completion of an ordinary bachelor degree in engineering or engineering technology and three to four years experience and post-graduate training leads to associate membership Engineers Ireland after a successful completion of a Professional Review.   

It is essential to consult prospectuses to make sure the course you choose is appropriate to the branch of engineering you want to follow.

Courses are available to candidates who wish to enter this field at many of the Institutes of Technology and the Agricultural Colleges around the country. See the related CAO and PLC Course lists available on this page

Agricultural engineering is a strong sub-sector within Irish Engineering. Several Irish manufacturers of farm machinery are world leaders in their specialised niche markets. Products on offer are diverse and range from grass balers, feed systems, cattle grids to dairy equipment and machinery accessories. Some of the equipment has been specifically developed for Irish conditions, such as sugar beet and turf harvesting, but even this highly specialised machinery have found export markets. Recent product diversification has centred around developing products that help to create a green image in food production, equipment for amenity and groundcare areas, including golf course management.

The agricultural machinery sector comprises of many small companies which are owner managed, and a number of larger companies who develop integrated equipment to meet the demands for bigger machines.

A list of Agricultural Machinery companies from Enterprise Ireland is available here.



Last Updated: June, 2016

Further Informationheader image

A detailed description of this occupation can be found on a number of online databases. Follow the link(s) below to access this information:

Note: you will be leaving the CareersPortal Site

Go..Agricultural Engineer - from:  N.C.S. [UK]
Go..Agricultural Engineer - from:  YouTube Video
Go..Agricultural Engineer - from:  Cross Agricultural Company [Video]
Go..Agricultural Engineering Technician - from:  N.C.S. [UK]
Go..Biosystems Agricultural & Food Engineering - from:  STEPS Engineers Ireland

Related Occupationsheader image

Contactsheader image


Organisation: Engineers Ireland
  Address: 22 Clyde Road, Ballsbridge Dublin 4
  Tel: (01) 665 1300
  Email: Click here
  Url Click here


Organisation: Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
  Address: Agriculture House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2
  Tel: (01) 607 2000 Lo Call 1890 200 510
  Email: Click here
  Url Click here


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