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Livestock Management Career Training and Job Options

Learn about the education and preparation needed to start a career in livestock management. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and internships to find out if this is the career for you.

Livestock managers often begin their training with hands-on informal experience. Degrees in livestock management are also available that can include internships for a future livestock manager to gain more experience. Livestock managers may work with animals, animal products or the machinery used in the process.

Essential Information

Livestock managers make sure that goods derived from animals are produced safely, efficiently and profitably. This career may involve different animal products or services, and postsecondary training in animal science with business management courses can be helpful. Because managers work with a variety of animals, products and services, many career options are available for those wishing to enter this agricultural industry.

Required Education High school diploma or equivalent; Bachelor's degree preferred by some employers
Other Requirements On-the-job training and previous agricultural work experience
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) -2% (farmers, ranchers and agricultural managers)*
Median Salary (2015) $64,170 (farmers, ranchers and agricultural managers)*

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

Career Training for Livestock Managers

Many managers begin training as youths on a family farm. Daily tasks such as milking cows or feeding chickens are all examples of some basic livestock caretaking skills that may be used in the later stages of the career. Due to greater complexities in agricultural practices, this method is generally insufficient to cover all skills associated with managing livestock. Most prospective managers pursue a bachelor's degree then take internships designed to integrate learning and on-the-job training.

Livestock Management College Programs

A general agricultural bachelor's degree may satisfy the requirements for a career in the many career options in this industry. A bachelor degree in agricultural science may include courses in food science, agricultural engineering, livestock evaluation and animal science. Alternatively, some students may take an animal-specific course such as beef and livestock studies or dairy production and management. Since many animals can be termed 'livestock', multiple educational paths exist.

Livestock Management Internship

Schools may offer internship opportunities with public and private sources including school research facilities, agricultural businesses, government agencies and even private farm owners. These programs provide students with opportunities to put their classroom learning into practice while acquiring work experience, and students often make valuable industry contacts through these internships.

Career Options for Livestock Managers

Because livestock managers can work with numerous animals, animal products and services, career opportunities are abundant. Generally livestock jobs are categorized around the animal being managed, the product that the animal produces or the area in which it resides.

Beef Livestock Management

These livestock managers focus on cattle that will eventually be turned into beef and beef products. Mangers in this specialty are careful to monitor what the livestock is fed, keeping the animals healthy and ensuring overall cleanliness in the cattle's lifetime. Because beef products are going toward human consumption, managers must ensure the livestock's feeding and handling conform to government standards and guidelines for beef production.

Dairy Livestock Management

Dairy managers watch over livestock that are used in the production of milk or milk byproducts like cheese. Cows are usually the dairy livestock manager's focus but he or she may also need knowledge of other dairy-producing livestock, like goats. Like beef cattle management, dairy animals must be fed a specific diet, housed, have good health and be disease free. Additionally chemical additives are sometimes added to the milk to meet government guidelines on health safety.

Textile or Leather Livestock Management

Managers may work with textile or leather-producing livestock, such as alpacas, sheep or bovines. Because these materials are not intended for consumption, managers do not monitor the use of chemical treatments or perform analyses on the end products as frequently as managers in other livestock industries do. Those in the wool aspect of this industry typically focus a greater portion of their energies on the animal's long-term health and well being, since wool is usually harvested without slaughtering the animal.

Range Livestock Management

Range livestock managers are responsible for cattle on large tracts of land. What sets this career apart from others is the inclusion of land management courses. Range managers work with ranchers, often privately, to ensure animals are accounted for, medically healthy and housed properly among other duties.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an annual median salary of $64,170 for farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers. A small decline of 2% was projected by the BLS for these managerial positions from 2014-2024.

Livestock managers have a few different options for careers. They work with animals used in the animal food and product industry, which can include range animals, textile or leather animals, or beef and dairy animals. Depending on their career choice, additional education may be necessary, such as land management courses.


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