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How to Become a Farm Manager: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Learn how to become a farm manager. Research the education requirements, training information and experience required for starting a career in the field of farm management. View article »

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  • 0:00 Should I Become a Farm…
  • 0:34 Career Requirements
  • 1:10 Steps to Become a Farm Manager

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Farm Manager?

Farm managers, sometimes known as agricultural managers, oversee the operational activities of farms. Duties may include inspecting crops for disease and operating farm machinery, such as tractors and hay balers. Work can be hazardous, and caution must be used when dealing with chemicals and large machines. On larger farms, managers may primarily perform administrative duties, such as hiring or marketing. Tact may be required when dealing with challenging employees or customers.

Career Requirements

Common Requirements
Degree Level Bachelor's degree recommended
Degree Field Agriculture, agronomy, animal science, dairy science
Certification Voluntary; can enhance career advancement prospects
Experience Five years or more in a farming-related field
Key Skills Ability to work well with others, and solid decision making, communication, and critical thinking skills
Technical Skills Ability to operate and perform maintenance on complex farm machinery
Computer Skills Industry software like accounting and planning software, and database systems such as FarmLogic

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O NET Online, CareerOneStop

A bachelor's degree in agriculture, agronomy, animal science, or dairy science is recommended for aspiring farm managers. Five years or more in a farming-related field is typically required. These professionals should have the ability to work well with others, as well as possess solid decision making, communication, and critical thinking skills. They should also be proficient using specialty tools and technology. According to 2015 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, farmers ranchers and agricultural manager earned a median salary of $64,170.

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Steps to Become a Farm Manager

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Aspiring farm managers may consider enrolling in a 4-year bachelor's degree program in farm management, agribusiness or a similar area of study. Students typically begin their studies by completing foundational courses in agricultural economics, accounting and finance. Some programs may offer specialized courses in livestock, crop or soil management and dairy science.

Students can gain valuable experience and learn about the farming industry by participating in an apprenticeship program. These are usually arranged by the college that a student is attending toward the end of the degree program.

Step 2: Find an Entry-Level Position

College graduates may need experience as assistant managers or management trainees before being promoted to farm managers. In order to prepare for a position as a farm manager, an entry-level worker may assist farm owners or operators with financial accounting. For example, he or she may collect and record expenses, such as fertilizer or seasonal employee wages. Assistant managers may also be responsible for monitoring crop and livestock prices.

In addition to managerial training, new hires may consider directing the planting and cultivation of crops. On farms with livestock, aspiring managers may inspect animals for health and consult with animal scientists regarding disease prevention. Other duties may include pest management and facility maintenance.

Step 3: Seek Certification

Although not required for employment, certifications such as those issued by the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA) may help experienced assistant managers advance. Members of the ASFMRA may be certified as Accredited Farm Managers.

Eligibility requirements include the completion of an approved bachelor's degree program and a minimum of four years of farm management experience. Additional requirements include completing ASFMRA management courses, passing a certification exam and submitting a farm management plan, application and fees.

Step 4: Continue Education and Training

Agriculture is a swiftly changing business. To stay professionally competitive, complete continuing education in the latest techniques and technology of farm management by attending conferences, seminars and educational courses.

In summary, farm managers typically need a bachelor's degree in agriculture, agronomy, dairy science, or a related field, as well as years of related experience.

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