The Best Controlled Environment Agriculture Jobs to Look for In 2022

Despite complications with the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 was a great year for the controlled environment agriculture (CEA) industry. In fact, controlled environment agriculture jobs were on the rise the entire year. controlled environment agriculture jobs

While COVID-19 certainly presented a complex business environment with global supply chain issues and lockdowns, it also stimulated certain market segments. The horticulture industry benefited from the pandemic due to increased interest in home gardening and local food production. 

As the top recruiting service in controlled environment agriculture, M&F Talent facilitated many key hires in the industry throughout 2021. Even more, by remaining in close touch with our CEA clients, our staffing team has a clear understanding of what types of CEA skill sets will be in demand in 2022. 

The Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) Job Market

With a growing interest from outside investors in food crop production, as well as continued growth in the cannabis vertical, the CEA job market in 2022 looks promising. 

As we enter 2022, hort-tech companies will likely be in search of candidates with experience in both cannabis and CEA-grown crops – especially for salespeople. Conversely, vertical farming companies will be most interested in those candidates who know the nuances of food crops like leafy greens, as well as the challenges of doing business in the retail grocery vertical. 

CEA Grower

Status: Extremely High Demand 

Average Salary: $75,000 per year 

CEA Growers are some of the most highly sought-after candidates in the market today. As the demand for locally grown produce has spiked with COVID-19 and the farm-to-table movement, the need for talented Growers has begun to outweigh available talent. 

Qualified CEA Growers generally have a BA degree in horticulture or the plant sciences, as well as a good deal of experience cultivating indoors or in a greenhouse. Hiring parties in the CEA space also like to see Growers with a strong understanding of modern cultivation technology and climate control software, as well as the ability to develop and follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) in the garden. 

Research & Development Scientist 

Status: High Demand controlled environment agriculture jobs

Average Salary: $60,000 per year 

Research & Development Scientists are in high demand in a variety of verticals in the CEA space. Whether it be formulating nutrients for hydroponic cultivation, or researching novel CEA cultivation systems for food crops, R&D Scientists have plenty of opportunities in the 2022 job market. 

Common tasks for R&D Scientists in the CEA space include monitoring growth chambers, planning field research, offering support for state and EPA registrations, and overseeing tissue culture labs. Education requirements for R&D Scientists range from a BA degree in the plant sciences up to a Ph.D. in horticulture. Importantly, salaries are often commensurate with experience and education levels. 

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Specialist 

controlled environment agriculture jobs Status: Fair Demand 

Average Salary: $60,000 per year 

As the CEA industry has grown increasingly sophisticated, so have procedures for dealing with pathogens and bugs. Today, the industry has Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Specialists that work exclusively to keep bugs, mold, and mildew under control at CEA operations. For large companies, IPM Specialists oversee strategy and protocol across a variety of operations in different locations. 

IPM Specialists often have a BA degree in agronomy or a similar field. Also, they must have a well-rounded knowledge of pest control, including environmental and biological methods, as well as pesticides. Many states like Colorado require IPM Specialists have a pesticide application certification. IPM Specialists must also be able to create IPM strategies that are scalable across several operations. 

Project Engineer  

Status: High Demand 

Average Salary: $80,000 per year 

Project Engineers have very interesting jobs in the CEA industry. From conception to construction, they help design the very facilities where CEA growing takes place. Beyond designing important elements like horticultural lighting, HVAC, and irrigation systems, Project Engineers must also account for areas for harvesting and packaging crops. 

Depending on the role in question, Project Engineers are hired by actual CEA producers, or 3rd party design and build firms. To illustrate, a large vertical farming company like Plenty employs a number of Project Engineers themselves – these people oversee the design of new facilities and remodels. Conversely, 3rd party greenhouse design companies don’t grow crops themselves, but design and build structures for CEA producers. 

Retail Channel Sales Specialist 

Status: Fair Demand controlled environment agriculture jobs

Average Salary: $50,000 per year 

In the CEA industry, Retail Channel Sales Specialists work to develop relationships with grocery stores and other retail partners. Retail Channel Sales Specialists must understand the product offerings of CEA producers and be able to explain why they would be appealing to customers in prospective markets. Oftentimes, these jobs require the oversight of a large sales territory such as the Midwest or Northeast. 

Retail Channel Sales Specialists often have a BA degree in business or similar. Common duties include establishing and maintaining customer relationships, identifying and resolving customer concerns, meeting established sales objectives, prospecting for new business, preparing presentations and proposals, and representing the company at industry trade shows. 

Contact M&F Talent About CEA Jobs Today! 

As industry authorities on controlled environment agriculture jobs, the recruiters at M&F Talent take great pride in keeping up to speed on the latest hiring developments. Not only do we work with some of the leading candidates in the field, but we also have personal relationships with top CEA companies. 

Please contact with questions about finding a career in the CEA industry.