Agricultural Manager: Job Description & Career Info

Research the educational and skill requirements needed to become an agricultural manager, as well as the job description and employment and salary outlook. Read on to decide if this career is right for you.

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Job Description for Agricultural Managers

Agricultural managers oversee the development of crops, animals and other items that can be sold to businesses or private consumers. They may manage the daily operations of commercial agricultural operations, such as nurseries and large farms, or they may look over farming operations for absentee landowners or farmers in need of management assistance. Although agricultural managers generally focus on the business of an agricultural facility, those who work in smaller businesses with few workers may have a greater scope of responsibility. Common duties include planning crops to maximize profit and minimize loss, creating budgets, hiring and overseeing production workers, supervising all farm maintenance, representing the facility in sales transactions and maintaining business records. They may run more than one agricultural operation and typically specialize in crop, horticultural, livestock, dairy or poultry production.

Agricultural managers are typically employed full time and may divide their time between working in an office and supervising outdoor activities. Additionally, some managers, especially those who work for large facilities, travel to meet with farmers and supervisors. Agricultural managers often work long hours during the planting and cultivation seasons. Depending on the setting, some physical work may be required. Activities that involve machinery or chemicals can be dangerous, so agricultural managers must follow strict safety standards.

Education Bachelor's degree in agriculture or related fields
Job Skills Knowledge of marketing, economics, farm operations, and agricultural processes, good communication and decision-making skills
Median Salary (2015)* $64,170 (for farmers, ranchers and agricultural managers)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* -2% (for farmers, ranchers and agricultural managers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

Traditionally, agricultural managers learn their job skills by working on a family farm, but it's becoming increasingly important to obtain formal training along with real-life experience. Prospective agricultural managers can pursue bachelor's degree programs in agriculture or related fields, such as farm management, agricultural economics and dairy science. Those who work with crops can learn about the types of crops, effective growing techniques and plant diseases, while managers who work with livestock or dairy may study veterinary science. Candidates without on-the-job training can take advantage of government programs that place aspiring managers with experienced farmers as interns or apprentices.

Certification Requirements

Although it's not required, agricultural managers can obtain farm manager certification from the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA). To apply for certification, agricultural managers must have a bachelor's degree and four years of farm or ranch management experience. They must also submit a farm management plan, complete a series of management courses and pass the accreditation exam.

Required Skills

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that agricultural managers had the following qualities:

  • Marketing and economics knowledge
  • Knowledge about agricultural processes and farm operations
  • Strong analytical and decision-making skills
  • Ability to communicate well with others

Employment and Salary Outlook

According to the BLS, the overall number of Americans working as agricultural managers, ranchers and farmers is in decline, with employment expected to shrink 2% between 2014 and 2024. However, agricultural managers should have better prospects as farmers increasingly need help to keep their business competitive. Salaries in this field vary depending on the size of the employer and the overall success of the facility's products that year, but the median annual wage for farmers, ranchers and agricultural managers was $64,170 in May 2015, the BLS reported.

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