Animal science students go to college for a number of reasons. They may have started out wanting to be a veterinarian. They may have known that it would be beneficial even though all they wanted to do when they started was to finish up and get back home to the farm. Reality sets when students realize that the amount of chemistry and physics need for vet school is overwhelming or when the family farm just isn’t big enough to support two (or three or four) families. In this article we will look at the career possibility of the artificial insemination (A.I.) technician.
What is the Job?
Artificial insemination is a term used to describe a process of reproduction that is becoming more popular in animal agriculture. Artificial insemination, or A.I., is used when a male with particularly good genetics is desired to breed with many females. The easiest way to do this without stressing the male or making him travel extensively is to collect the semen from the male. Once the semen is collected, it is examined for quality and volume and then separated into smaller amounts to be used for individual females. For most males in animal agriculture, one collection of semen can be used to breed tens, if not hundreds, of females.
Artificial insemination is most popular in the dairy cattle industry and so the A.I. technician is a job that is found most often in the dairy industry. An A.I. technician would travel to the farms on his or her route and would use the collected semen from the bulls that the farmer has chosen to breed the cows that are ready to be bred. It is not a particularly difficult job and some people use it as a stepping stone to more possibilities while others find immense joy in traveling to different farms and being able to be outside and working with animals.
The courses that would be required for an A.I. technician would include an introductory animal science course, a genetics or animal breeding course, a course in reproductive physiology, and all A.I. technicians have to go through a certification course. You do not have to have a college degree to become an A.I. technician but the pay is usually better and the advancement opportunities are greater as well.
Courses to Consider
Courses that you would want to consider as you look at becoming an A.I. technician would be composition and speech courses to perfect your communication skills, a biology course, and probably a course in dairy cattle management. All of these would help in dealing with the farmers and the questions that might arise.
Activities that would be beneficial in establishing yourself in this career would be an internship with a genetics or A.I. company. Internships are good because they help you gain a better understanding of a particular organization or company. Involvement in a dairy club while in college is also useful, if for no other reason than you can make networking connections with other students and possibly their farms back home.