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Farm Manager: Education Needed to Become a Farm or Ranch Manager

A farm manager requires some formal education. Learn about the education options, job duties and requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

A farm or ranch manager job demands a great deal of physical work, thus mechanical skills and endurance are needed to qualify. An agricultural degree of some kind is often a requirement to learn the business end, while training and experience are acquired on the job as well as through internships. Specialized certifications are also available.

Essential Information

Farm and ranch managers are responsible for overseeing an agricultural or livestock-raising business. They usually need business education in addition to training in raising crops or animals. Although some managers are trained on the job, it is more common to earn an associate's or bachelor's degree in an agriculture-related field. Individuals may also consider earning an additional certificate or taking professional development courses in specialized areas related to farming or ranching duties.

Required Education Associate's or bachelor's degree in agribusiness, farm management or another related subject
Other Options Certificates and courses in specialized areas; on-the-job training
Projected Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 2% decline for farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers
Median Salary (2015)* $64,170 for farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Educational Overview for a Farm or Ranch Manager

Associate's Degree Option

It is common for farm and ranch managers to learn on the job or through growing up on a farm or ranch, but for those who have no such experience, associate's degree programs in farm and ranch management, agricultural technology, agribusiness or another field related to crop or animal management can provide the education needed. Most programs begin with introductory topics in agricultural management and economics. Typical core courses in these types of programs include soil science, crop production, animal science and agricultural management. Some programs may also cover marketing, animal health, fertilizers and livestock feeding.

Bachelor's Degree Option

Students wishing to earn a bachelor's degree may consider programs in agribusiness or a field related to livestock, crop or farm management. In these programs, courses for aspiring farm managers typically cover topics in pest management, weed science and agricultural finance. Prospective ranch managers may gain more insight into specific animal feeding and breeding practices. Other courses may include business management, agricultural law, marketing and agricultural finance. Some programs may allow students to conduct individual research into topics that interest them or participate in internships in the field.

Additional Courses and Certificates

Farm or ranch managers may have job duties that go beyond managing the farm or ranch, which require specialized knowledge or skills. Therefore, individuals may consider taking additional courses or earning a certificate in a specialization. For example, on small farms, it is common for managers to repair broken equipment. Taking courses in diesel technology and repair can provide a person with skills necessary to repairing hydraulic machines and tractors. Similarly, aspiring ranch managers considering a marketing position on a large ranch may benefit from additional marketing, advertising and sales classes.

Salary and Career Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates a decline of 2% in job opportunities for farmers, agricultural managers and ranchers in the years 2014-2024. These workers earned $64,170 as a median annual wage in May 2015.

Besides having physical strength and stamina, a farm or ranch manager must possess fine analytical and business abilities to do the job right. Completing an associate's or bachelor's degree program is a common requisite, and some go on to become certified in a specialized area. The job growth is in a decline, as farming materials become increasingly expensive in addition to the capability of farms to produce many things without the need for a lot of workers.


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