Career Advice on How to Become A Farmer and Rancher

General Career Information

In the “old days,” which was only a few decades ago, much of the population was out in the field engaging in icky muscle building labor.   Now only a tiny percentage of the population is engaging in feeding the rest of us. The few farmers that remain are quickly seeing their market share being absorbed by massive agribusinesses.  Making a living as an independent farmer or rancher is not as easy as it use to be.  Due to the fact that modern farming involves a great deal of capital in the form of equipment, chemicals and yummy pesticides, it is probably best for those who are interested in adding farming to their career planning to consider organic farming on a small scale.


Career Facts:

Today’s farmer isn’t just worried about crops. He or she must also be concerned with being able to manage an increasingly complex farming infrastructure.  The old days of planting and letting nature do the rest has been replaced with a good deal of chemicals and science.  Farmers and ranchers are businessmen.  Some farmers and ranchers run small operations, such as family owned farms. Others are larger operations involving massive corporations controlling phenomenal amounts of land.  Yet despite all the technological advancements, farming in particular and to a lesser extent ranching, are largely weather-dominated.  For example, an insect problem can still wipe out a good percentage of one’s crop.  Then there is flooding and worrying about rapidly rising, or falling, crop prices.  For the independent farmer it can be a rough ride.


Career Opportunities and Job Outlook - Poor:

For a variety of reasons, such as the cost of land, chemicals and machinery, the number of independent farmers is expected to drop by about eight percent over 2008-2010.  The job search may not go too well as a result. However, the number of agricultural managers, who will work for large corporate farms, is expected to increase about six percent over the same time period.  Some who are interested in farming are finding opportunities in the realm of organic farming, which has yet to be completely dominated by large corporations.  This trend may continue for the next few years.
Job Outlook is Poor

A Day in The Life:

It should probably come as no real surprise that working as a farmer or rancher means spending a great deal of time outdoors working the land or working with livestock.  The number of tasks involved in farming is substantial and ranges from planting, harvesting, watering, to treating crops with chemicals and pesticides.  Ranchers can expect to see much of their time spent keeping their animals alive until they are ready to be slaughtered.  Thus, it’s usually a bad idea to make too many friends and hand out too many pet names.

Average Salary:

It is not uncommon for independent farmers to have financial problems and many do go out of business.  In terms of agricultural managers, an average weekly earning is about $775 with the top ten percent of agricultural managers earning about $1,700 per week.

Career Training and Qualifications:

Quite often framers and ranchers are born into the occupation.  In recent years, associate and bachelor degrees in agriculture are becoming more common.
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