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Career profile Extension Specialist

Also known as 4-H Youth Development Specialist, Agricultural Extension Educator, Extension Agent, Extension Educator, Extension Specialist, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent, Family Development Extension Specialist, Family Resource Management Extension Specialist, Marine Extension Agent, Natural Resources Extension Educator

Extension Specialist

Also known as 4-H Youth Development Specialist, Agricultural Extension Educator, Extension Agent

Interests Profile
  • Social
  • Realistic
  • Enterprising
Pay Range
$26,300 - $85,140 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Active Listening
  • Speaking
  • Reading Comprehension
Knowledge Areas
  • Education and Training
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Biology
Core tasks
  • Collect and evaluate data to determine community program needs.
  • Prepare and distribute leaflets, pamphlets, and visual aids for educational and informational purposes.
  • Conduct classes or deliver lectures on subjects such as nutrition, home management, and farming techniques.
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What does an Extension Specialist do?

Extension Specialists instruct and advise individuals and families engaged in agriculture, agricultural-related processes, or home management activities.

In addition, Extension Specialists

  • demonstrate procedures and apply research findings to advance agricultural and home management activities,
  • may develop educational outreach programs,
  • may instruct on either agricultural issues such as agricultural processes and techniques, pest management, and food safety, or on home management issues such as budgeting, nutrition, and child development.

What kind of tasks does an Extension Specialist perform regularly?

Extension Specialists are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Collect and evaluate data to determine community program needs.
  • Prepare and distribute leaflets, pamphlets, and visual aids for educational and informational purposes.
  • Conduct classes or deliver lectures on subjects such as nutrition, home management, and farming techniques.
  • Research information requested by farmers.
  • Collaborate with producers to diagnose and prevent management and production problems.
  • Advise farmers and demonstrate techniques in areas such as feeding and health maintenance of livestock, growing and harvesting practices, and financial planning.
  • Conduct field demonstrations of new products, techniques, or services.
  • Organize, advise, and participate in community activities and organizations, such as county and state fair events and 4-H Clubs.
  • Collaborate with social service and health care professionals to advise individuals and families on home management practices, such as budget planning, meal preparation, and time management.
  • Act as an advocate for farmers or farmers' groups.
  • Conduct agricultural research, analyze data, and prepare research reports.
  • Schedule and make regular visits to farmers.
  • Maintain records of services provided and the effects of advice given.

The above responsibilities are specific to Extension Specialists. More generally, Extension Specialists are involved in several broader types of activities:

Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Training and Teaching Others
Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
Communicating with People Outside the Organization
Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.

What is an Extension Specialist salary?

The median salary for an Extension Specialist is $51,550, and the average salary is $54,870. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Extension Specialist salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Extension Specialists earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Extension Specialists earn less than $26,300 per year, 25% earn less than $37,910, 75% earn less than $67,330, and 90% earn less than $85,140.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Extension Specialists is expected to change by -1.1%, and there should be roughly 800 open positions for Extension Specialists every year.

Median annual salary
$51,550
Typical salary range
$26,300 - $85,140
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
-1.1%

What personality traits are common among Extension Specialists?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as an Extension Specialist are usually higher in their Social, Realistic, and Enterprising interests.

Extension Specialists typically have very strong Social interests. Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.

Also, Extension Specialists typically have strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Lastly, Extension Specialists typically have moderate Enterprising interests. Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

Extension Specialists typically have moderate Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as an Extension Specialist tend to value Relationships, Independence, and Achievement.

Most importantly, Extension Specialists very strongly value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Second, Extension Specialists strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Lastly, Extension Specialists strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Extension Specialists must consistently demonstrate qualities such as integrity, dependability, and adaptability/flexibility.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Extension Specialists, ranked by importance:

Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Adaptability/Flexibility
Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
Initiative
Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
Independence
Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.

What education and training do Extension Specialists need?

Many Extension Specialists have earned a graduate degree. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a doctoral degree, such as a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D..

Extension Specialists may need some on-the-job training, but most candidates will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.

Educational degrees among Extension Specialists

  • 0.7% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 4.1% completed high school or secondary school
  • 7.6% completed some college coursework
  • 4.5% earned a Associate's degree
  • 28.0% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 45.6% earned a Master's degree
  • 9.4% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Extension Specialists

Extension Specialists may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as education and training, customer and personal service, or biology knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Extension Specialists might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Biology
Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
Food Production
Knowledge of techniques and equipment for planting, growing, and harvesting food products (both plant and animal) for consumption, including storage/handling techniques.
Communications and Media
Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.

Important Abilities needed by Extension Specialists

Extension Specialists must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Extension Specialists need abilities such as oral expression, oral comprehension, and speech clarity in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Extension Specialists, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Speech Clarity
The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.

Critical Skills needed by Extension Specialists

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Extension Specialists frequently use skills like active listening, speaking, and reading comprehension to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Extension Specialists, ranked by their relative importance.

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.
Speaking
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Learning Strategies
Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
Coordination
Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.