Dairy Farm Supervisor Career Info
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree|
|Degree Field||Agriculture, veterinary science, dairy science, business|
|Experience||2-5 years of dairy farm experience|
|Key Skills||Management, interpersonal, judgment, and decision-making skills; use of accounting, bookkeeping, data entry; and industry software including Midwest MicroSystems Cow Sense and Cattlesoft CattleMax; ability to operate machinery|
|Salary||$64,170 (2015 median for agricultural managers)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Job postings by employers (October 2012), O*NET Online
Dairy farm supervisors oversee farm workers who operate, inspect, monitor, maintain, clean, and repair the farm's facilities and equipment. These professionals also oversee workers who feed, milk, and tend to the animals. In addition to directly supervising farm workers, farm supervisors update managers on animal feed supplies, equipment status, and worker productivity. Work days are long, and the physical aspects of the job are demanding.
Dairy farm supervisors must have management skills, the ability to operate machinery, interpersonal skills, and decision-making skills. They should also be familiar with industry software like Midwest MicroSystems Cow Sense and Cattlesoft CattleMax. Agricultural managers in general earned a median salary of $64,170 in 2015.
Earn a Bachelor's Degree
Aspiring dairy farm supervisors should consider earning a bachelor's degree in dairy science or a related field such as farm management. Students are required to take a curriculum in life sciences such as chemistry, biology, and animal physiology, while also gaining practical farm experience to learn dairy skills like milk quality testing. Some programs also incorporate business courses such as agricultural economics, marketing, and accounting.
Students should also consider completing an internship or apprenticeship program while in school. The additional knowledge, skills, and experience gained while participating in an apprenticeship or internship program proves valuable after graduation. Some internships pay students a stipend in addition to housing during the program.
Work on a Dairy Farm
Experience is required to become a supervisor on a dairy farm, so gaining both supervisory and dairy production experience is important. An entry-level job as a farm hand, ranch assistant, or a dairy herder provides some experience in the field.
Seek Career Advancement
After gaining experience, dairy farm workers seek advancement to dairy farm supervisor. Supervisor duties are determined by the size of the farm. Farm supervisors working on small farms may be responsible for everything from handling personnel issues to deciding feeding methods and reproduction schedules. Those who work on larger farms are responsible for dozens of workers and rely much more heavily on analytical and technological skills like accounting, bookkeeping, and computerized data entry.
Farm supervisors earn the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraiser's (ASFMRA) Accredited Farm Manager (AFM) credential. The AFM is a voluntary certification program that requires applicants to be a member of the ASFMRA, have four years of experience in farm management, and have earned at least a bachelor's degree in agricultural science or a related field. Candidates must pass a series of courses and exams to earn the AFM title.
Once again, aspiring dairy farm supervisors will likely find better job prospects if they earn a bachelor's degree in an agriculture-related field gain on-the-job experience on a dairy farm, and consider earning certification.