How to Become ICAR Scientist in India

How to Become ICAR Scientist in India

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) stands as a beacon of excellence in the realm of agricultural science in India.

Established in 1929, ICAR has continuously spearheaded advancements in the agricultural domain, making significant contributions to both the growth of the sector and the nation’s food security.

As the principal body responsible for coordinating and managing research and education in agriculture across India, ICAR holds immense prestige.

Becoming a scientist under its esteemed umbrella is a dream for many, and with good reason.

ICAR scientists not only indulge in cutting-edge research but also play an instrumental role in shaping the nation’s agricultural policies, innovations, and sustainable farming practices.

If you’ve ever been intrigued by the intricacies of plant genetics, the dynamics of soil health, or the challenges of livestock management, a career as an ICAR scientist might be your calling.

This guide will elucidate the pathway, preparations, and the dedication required to wear the proud badge of an ICAR scientist in India.

Understand the Basic Eligibility Criteria

Before embarking on the journey to become an ICAR scientist, it is imperative to understand and meet the fundamental eligibility criteria.

These criteria ensure that candidates possess the foundational knowledge and skills required for the role. Here’s a breakdown of the essential prerequisites:

1. Educational Qualifications

  • Master’s Degree: Candidates aspiring to be an ICAR scientist must possess a Master’s degree in a relevant field. The specific fields typically include Agriculture, Agricultural Engineering, Veterinary Sciences, and other specialized disciplines related to agricultural research.
  • Ph.D. Advantage: While a Master’s is the basic requirement, possessing a Ph.D. in the concerned discipline can give candidates an edge in certain research positions or roles within ICAR.

2. Age Limit

  • Minimum and Maximum Age: The age criteria might vary depending on the specific position or role. Generally, the minimum age for appearing in the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) examination is 21 years, and the upper age limit is often around 32 years.
  • Relaxations: Age relaxations are usually available for candidates belonging to reserved categories such as SC, ST, OBC, and for women candidates, among others. It’s crucial to check the official ICAR notifications for specific age relaxations.

3. Nationality

  • To be eligible for positions in ICAR, candidates should be citizens of India. There might be occasional exceptions for specific roles, especially in collaborative international projects, but the primary focus is on Indian nationals.

4. Other Criteria

  • Depending on the specific role or discipline, there might be additional qualifications or experiences required. For instance, certain research positions might necessitate fieldwork experience or certifications in specific agricultural technologies.
  • Proficiency in certain languages or local dialects might be preferred for roles that involve on-ground interactions with farmers or local agricultural communities.

The Importance of ARS Examination

One of the pivotal gateways to securing a position as a scientist within ICAR is the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) examination.

Conducted annually by the Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board (ASRB), this examination serves as the primary mechanism to select the brightest minds for research roles in various disciplines of agriculture.

Let’s delve deeper into its significance:

1. Standardized Selection Process

  • The ARS examination offers a standardized platform to evaluate the knowledge, skills, and expertise of candidates across the country. It ensures that only the most capable individuals are shortlisted, maintaining the high standards of ICAR.

2. Comprehensive Evaluation

  • The ARS examination isn’t just about theoretical knowledge. It assesses a candidate’s comprehensive understanding of various agricultural disciplines, including practical applications, innovations, and emerging trends.

3. Role of National Eligibility Test (NET)

  • Alongside the ARS examination, the NET is another crucial component. While the ARS examination is geared towards recruitment, NET is primarily an eligibility test for lectureship positions in State Agricultural Universities (SAUs) and other agricultural institutions. However, clearing NET is often a prerequisite for candidates appearing for higher positions in ICAR.

4. Career Advancement

  • Clearing the ARS examination not only opens doors to initial recruitment but also paves the way for future promotions and career advancements within ICAR. The examination’s merit plays a role in determining the growth trajectory of the scientist within the organization.

5. Prestige and Recognition

  • Given the competition and the rigorous nature of the ARS examination, clearing it is in itself an accolade. It offers recognition to candidates and establishes their expertise in their respective agricultural fields, even before they formally start their role as an ICAR scientist.

Dive Deep: ARS Examination Pattern and Syllabus

For any aspiring ICAR scientist, understanding the structure and content of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) examination is crucial.

It’s not just about studying hard; it’s about studying smart. Let’s explore the examination pattern and the syllabus to get a clear picture:

1. Examination Phases

  • Preliminary ARS Examination:
  • Type: Objective type with multiple choice questions (MCQs).
  • Duration: Usually 2 hours.
  • Purpose: It serves as a screening test, filtering candidates for the Mains examination.
  • Mains ARS Examination:
  • Type: Descriptive format, where candidates need to provide detailed answers.
  • Duration: Typically 3 hours.
  • Papers: Depending on the discipline, candidates might have to appear for one or more papers.
  • Purpose: This is a scoring examination that greatly influences the final selection.
  • Viva-voce:
  • This is the final oral examination stage. Selected candidates from the Mains examination are interviewed by experts to assess their depth of knowledge, research aptitude, and suitability for the position.

2. Syllabus Overview

  • Preliminary Examination: The syllabus usually encompasses foundational topics from the chosen discipline, whether it’s agricultural science, veterinary sciences, or agricultural engineering. Questions test basic understanding and knowledge.
  • Mains Examination: Here, the syllabus delves deeper. It’s more specialized and is centered around the candidate’s chosen discipline. Topics might include advanced agricultural techniques, recent research findings, and real-world applications.
  • Aspiring candidates should refer to standard textbooks in their respective disciplines. Additionally, publications by ICAR, research journals, and updated agricultural handbooks can be immensely beneficial.
  • Online platforms, coaching institutes, and discussion forums can provide mock tests, sample papers, and other resources to help candidates familiarize themselves with the examination pattern.

4. Regular Updates

  • The ARS examination pattern and syllabus can undergo changes. It’s essential for candidates to regularly check the official ASRB or ICAR websites for any updates or modifications.

Application Process

For those seeking a distinguished career as an ICAR scientist, the first tangible step involves successfully navigating the application process for the ARS examination.

Ensuring that you complete this phase without any glitches is essential. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through:

1. Notification Release

  • Watch Out: ICAR, through the Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board (ASRB), periodically releases official notifications regarding the ARS examination. This is generally made available on the ASRB’s official website.
  • Details: The notification provides essential details such as examination dates, eligibility criteria, vacancies in different disciplines, and more.

2. Online Application Portal

  • Access: Once the notification is out, the online application portal is activated. Candidates are required to access this portal to fill out their application forms.
  • Registration: First-time applicants must register on the portal, providing basic details to create an account. Post-registration, candidates receive login credentials.

3. Filling the Application Form

  • Personal Information: Begin by entering your personal details, such as name, date of birth, contact information, etc.
  • Educational Qualifications: Provide details regarding your educational background, including institutions, degrees obtained, percentages, etc.
  • Choice of Discipline: Depending on your qualifications and interests, choose the agricultural discipline you wish to apply for.
  • Document Upload: Scan and upload essential documents like passport-sized photographs, signatures, educational certificates, category certificates (if applicable), and other necessary documents as per the given specifications.

4. Application Fee Payment

  • Payment Modes: Depending on the portal’s facilities, candidates can usually make payments using net banking, credit cards, debit cards, or other online payment methods.
  • Category-wise Fees: The fee structure might vary based on the candidate’s category, i.e., General, OBC, SC, ST, etc. Ensure to check the amount specified for your category.

5. Review and Submission

  • Double-check: Before the final submission, review all the details entered in the application form to ensure accuracy.
  • Submission: Once satisfied, submit the form. It’s advisable to keep a printed or digital copy of the submitted form for future references.

6. Admit Card

  • Download: A few weeks before the examination date, the ASRB will release admit cards for eligible candidates. This can be downloaded from the official website using your registration credentials.
  • Essential Document: The admit card, bearing details like examination center, timing, and more, is mandatory for appearing in the ARS examination.

Training and Probation

Successfully clearing the ARS examination is a commendable achievement, but it’s not the final step towards becoming an ICAR scientist.

Selected candidates typically undergo a training phase, followed by a probationary period. Let’s understand these crucial phases in more detail:

1. Orientation and Training

  • Foundation Course: Before formally taking up their roles, selected candidates are often enrolled in a foundation course. This course introduces them to the broader objectives of ICAR, its organizational structure, and the expectations from scientists.
  • Technical Training: Post the foundation course, candidates receive technical training specific to their chosen discipline. This could include laboratory techniques, fieldwork methodologies, research ethics, and more. It helps align their academic knowledge with practical applications.

2. Placement and Probation

  • Initial Placement: After training, candidates are placed in various research institutes or agricultural institutions under ICAR, based on their discipline and the organization’s needs.
  • Probation Period: The initial period after placement is typically termed as the ‘probationary period’. It can last for about one to two years, though the duration might vary based on ICAR’s policies. During this time, the performance, conduct, and professional capabilities of the candidate are closely monitored.

3. Objectives of the Probationary Period

  • Evaluation: The probationary period serves as an extended evaluation phase. It helps ICAR assess whether the candidate’s skills, work ethics, and research aptitude align with the organization’s standards and needs.
  • Skill Enhancement: It’s also a time for candidates to further hone their skills, adapt to the professional environment, and understand the nuances of agricultural research in a real-world setting.

4. Confirmation and Permanent Role

  • Performance Review: At the end of the probationary period, a comprehensive review of the candidate’s performance is undertaken.
  • Confirmation: If the candidate’s performance is deemed satisfactory, they are confirmed in their service, transitioning from a probationary scientist to a permanent scientist within ICAR.
  • Further Opportunities: Post confirmation, scientists can explore deeper research avenues, take up leadership roles in projects, and even get opportunities for further studies or international collaborations.

Growth and Opportunities

Embarking on a journey as an ICAR scientist offers more than just a respectable job title.

The path is dotted with myriad growth avenues and opportunities that can help individuals realize their potential and make impactful contributions to the field of agricultural research.

Here’s an insight into the career progression and the myriad possibilities:

1. Hierarchical Progression:

  • Initial Role: Once confirmed after the probation period, scientists typically start in a junior role, often termed as Scientist (SG).
  • Promotions: Over time, based on their experience, contributions, and performance, scientists can climb the ranks to positions like Senior Scientist, Principal Scientist, and eventually, to leadership roles such as Director of an institute.

2. Specialized Training Programs:

  • National & International: ICAR, in collaboration with other institutions, periodically organizes national and international training programs. These are curated to equip scientists with new research methodologies, emerging agricultural technologies, and innovations in the field.
  • Skill Enhancement: Such programs not only help in skill enhancement but also provide exposure to global best practices, enabling scientists to bring back and implement innovative solutions in India.

3. Research Projects & Grants:

  • Leading Projects: With experience, scientists get opportunities to lead research projects, guiding teams to solve specific agricultural challenges.
  • Funding Opportunities: ICAR scientists can also apply for grants, both nationally and internationally, to fund their research ideas and innovations.

4. Collaborative Research:

  • Inter-Institutional Collaboration: ICAR has tie-ups with various national and international research bodies. Scientists often get the chance to collaborate on joint projects, publications, and research papers.
  • Global Exposure: Such collaborations provide a global platform, fostering cross-cultural exchanges and exposure to diverse agricultural landscapes.

5. Teaching & Mentorship:

  • Lectureship: Many ICAR scientists take up guest lectureship roles in State Agricultural Universities (SAUs) and other educational institutions, nurturing the next generation of agricultural professionals.
  • Guiding Research: Experienced scientists often guide Ph.D. scholars, playing a crucial role in shaping their research and academic journey.

6. Policy Influence & Advisory Roles:

  • Government Consultation: Senior ICAR scientists are frequently consulted by the government to shape agricultural policies, draft guidelines, and provide expert opinions on pressing agricultural issues.
  • International Forums: They also represent India in international agricultural forums, playing a pivotal role in policy-making and global agricultural dialogues.

Preparing for the Examination

The journey to becoming an ICAR scientist is exhilarating, but it commences with the demanding step of acing the ARS examination.

Preparing for this examination requires a blend of strategic planning, rigorous study, and mental fortitude. Here’s a comprehensive guide on gearing up for the big day:

1. Understand the Syllabus:

  • Thorough Overview: Before diving into preparation, ensure you have a clear understanding of the examination’s syllabus. Differentiate between core topics that form the majority of questions and auxiliary ones.
  • Stay Updated: Regularly check the official ASRB or ICAR websites to ensure that you’re aligned with any updates or changes in the syllabus.

2. Design a Study Plan:

  • Timetable: Draft a realistic and achievable study timetable. Allocate time based on the complexity and weightage of subjects.
  • Consistency: Adherence to the timetable is crucial. Regular study sessions are more effective than erratic cramming.

3. Use Quality Study Materials:

  • Standard Textbooks: Refer to the recommended textbooks in your chosen discipline. These provide an in-depth understanding of topics.
  • Reference Books: For a more comprehensive grasp, especially for topics you find challenging, reference books can be invaluable.
  • Online Resources: The digital age provides a plethora of online courses, webinars, and video lectures which can aid in understanding complex topics.

4. Practice Regularly:

  • Mock Tests: Regularly attempt mock tests to familiarize yourself with the examination pattern and improve time management.
  • Previous Year Papers: Solving previous year question papers gives insights into the examination’s trend and the kind of questions frequently asked.

5. Group Study and Discussions:

  • Collaborative Learning: Studying in groups can provide diverse perspectives on topics and aid in understanding challenging concepts.
  • Discussion Forums: Online forums can be platforms for doubt clarification, knowledge sharing, and staying updated about examination-related news.

6. Stay Updated on Current Advances:

  • Agricultural News: Being in the loop with the latest advancements in agricultural science and technology can give you an edge, especially for questions related to recent developments.
  • Research Journals: Periodically reviewing research papers can enhance your depth of knowledge and keep you updated on cutting-edge research.

7. Physical and Mental Well-being:

  • Regular Breaks: Long study sessions can be counterproductive. Short, frequent breaks can boost productivity.
  • Exercise and Diet: A balanced diet and regular physical activity can help maintain energy levels and focus.
  • Mental Health: It’s essential to stay calm and stress-free. Meditation, hobbies, and adequate sleep can aid mental well-being.

8. Review and Revise:

  • Revision Timetable: As the examination date approaches, allocate more time for revision. Ensure you revisit all topics, with emphasis on challenging ones.
  • Short Notes: Preparing concise notes on core topics can be beneficial for last-minute revisions.

Challenges and Responsibilities of an ICAR Scientist

While the position of an ICAR scientist is highly esteemed and offers a plethora of growth opportunities, it comes with its own set of challenges and responsibilities.

This dual facet defines the role, ensuring that it remains not just a job, but a commitment to agriculture and the nation.

1. Responsibilities:

  • Research & Development: At the core of their role, ICAR scientists are responsible for conducting research in their specialized fields. Their findings can influence farming practices, crop yields, and the overall agricultural output of the country.
  • Knowledge Dissemination: ICAR scientists are tasked with not just conducting research but also disseminating this knowledge. This involves publishing their findings, conducting workshops, or training sessions for farmers and agricultural stakeholders.
  • Policy Recommendations: Senior scientists often play an advisory role, suggesting changes or additions to agricultural policies based on their research and observations.
  • Collaboration & Teamwork: Leading or being a part of multidisciplinary teams to address broader agricultural issues is another critical responsibility.

2. Challenges:

  • Resource Limitations: Despite being a part of a prestigious institution, scientists might sometimes face limitations in terms of resources, be it research equipment, funds, or manpower.
  • Balancing Fieldwork & Lab Research: Striking a balance between on-field agricultural work and laboratory research can be demanding.
  • Keeping Abreast of Global Developments: Agriculture is dynamic, with new techniques, tools, and challenges emerging regularly. Staying updated can be a task in itself.
  • Managing Expectations: As ICAR is a premier body, there’s a consistent pressure on scientists to produce impactful research and provide tangible solutions to the agricultural community.
  • Adapting to Technological Changes: The rapid integration of technology in agriculture requires scientists to be versatile and adapt to new tools and techniques continually.

3. Navigating the Dual Role:

  • Stakeholder Engagement: Scientists often have to engage with a range of stakeholders – from farmers to policymakers. Understanding and addressing the unique concerns of each group can be challenging.
  • Juggling Administrative & Research Duties: Senior scientists especially might find themselves caught between administrative responsibilities and their primary role as researchers.


The journey to becoming an ICAR scientist in India is a blend of dedication, rigorous preparation, and a deep-seated passion for agriculture and research.

While the path is paved with challenges, from the demanding ARS examination to the multifaceted roles and responsibilities awaiting in the professional sphere, the rewards are manifold.

An ICAR scientist not only secures a prestigious position in one of the country’s premier research bodies but also plays a pivotal role in shaping the agricultural landscape of the nation.

The role offers a chance to make a genuine difference, impacting countless lives, advancing agricultural practices, and contributing to food security.

For those committed to the cause, the journey, despite its hurdles, promises immense satisfaction, growth, and the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy in the annals of India’s agricultural history.

ICAR Official Website: Gain insights into the latest updates, initiatives, and objectives of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board (ASRB): Access details about the ARS examination, notifications, syllabus, and more.

ARS Examination Previous Year Question Papers: Equip yourself with a clearer understanding of the examination pattern and frequently asked questions.

ICAR Research Institutes: Discover the extensive network of ICAR-affiliated research institutes across the country.

ICAR e-Courses: Online courses offered by ICAR in various agricultural disciplines.

Krishipedia: An initiative by ICAR providing a wealth of information on various agricultural subjects.

Research Journals: Stay updated with the latest research and findings in the field of agriculture.

Books and Reference Materials: Some recommended books for ARS examination and agricultural research. (You might need to find specific titles or authors based on the chosen discipline).

Discussion Forums and Groups: Join communities where aspirants discuss preparation strategies, share resources, and clarify doubts.

Current Agricultural News & Updates:

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is ICAR?

ICAR stands for the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. It’s an autonomous organization under the Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE), Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India, responsible for coordinating agricultural education and research in India.

2. How can one become a scientist in ICAR?

To become a scientist in ICAR, an aspirant must appear for and clear the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) examination conducted by the Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board (ASRB).

3. What is the ARS examination?

The ARS examination is a competitive examination conducted by ASRB to recruit scientists in the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of ICAR.

4. What are the eligibility criteria for the ARS exam?

The primary eligibility criteria include a Master’s degree in a relevant subject or discipline, with candidates typically needing to be between the ages of 21 and 32. However, age relaxations are available for certain categories, and it’s advisable to check the official ASRB notification for detailed criteria.

5. Are there any growth opportunities for ICAR scientists?

Yes, ICAR scientists have various growth opportunities, from promotions based on experience and contributions, specialized training programs, leading research projects, to advisory roles in policy-making and representing India in international agricultural forums.

6. Is the ARS examination the only way to become a scientist in ICAR?

While the ARS examination is the primary mode of recruitment, ICAR sometimes has direct recruitment or lateral entries for specific high-level or specialized roles. However, such opportunities are comparatively less frequent.

7. How can I prepare for the ARS examination?

Preparation involves understanding the syllabus, designing a study plan, using quality study materials, practicing with mock tests, and staying updated on current agricultural advances. It’s also crucial to take care of one’s physical and mental well-being during the preparation phase.

8. What challenges might an ICAR scientist face?

Challenges can include resource limitations, balancing fieldwork with lab research, keeping abreast of global developments, managing high expectations, adapting to technological changes, and juggling administrative and research duties.

9. Do ICAR scientists have the opportunity to teach?

Yes, many ICAR scientists take up guest lectureship roles in State Agricultural Universities (SAUs) and other educational institutions, sharing their knowledge and experience with the next generation of agricultural professionals.

10. How can I stay updated about the ARS examination notifications?

The ASRB’s official website frequently updates with notifications about the ARS examination. Aspirants are advised to regularly check the website or subscribe to official communication channels for timely updates.

Meet Ankit Kumar holding a master's degree in Museology, Ankit Kumar brings a profound understanding of the cultural and historical significance of museums. With a passion for research and a keen interest in writing, they have not only excelled in guiding individuals in their career paths but also have a flair for creating insightful and engaging blogs on various aspects of museology as well as different professions.

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