Ranch General Manager: Education and Career Information

Sep 17, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a ranch general manager. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and the projected outlook for employment to find out if this is the career for you.

Ranch general managers oversee the entire operation of a ranch including managing livestock as well as employees. These positions require a degree and experience in the field. Jobs in this career are expected to experience a decline in the coming decade.

Essential Information

Ranch general managers oversee the entire operation of livestock or mixed-use agricultural operations, including everything from business issues to day-to-day work on the property. Associate's and bachelor's degrees in ranch or farm management often supplement on-the-job training. Many ranch managers demonstrate their expertise by earning professional certification.

Required Education Associate's or bachelor's degree in ranch or farm management
Projected Job Outlook (2018-2028)* -1% for ranchers, farmers and other agricultural managers
Mean Salary (2018)* $67,950 for ranchers, farmers and other agricultural managers

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

Ranch General Manager Education

Ranch general managers mix hands-on job training with formal undergraduate educational programs. Managers may have experience as ranch hands and may work closely with experienced ranch managers prior to or while earning a degree. The most commonly offered undergraduate credentials are certificates and associate's degrees in farm or agricultural management, available at agriculture schools and community colleges, primarily in the central U.S., where most of the rangeland is located, with a few programs in coastal states. Bachelor's degrees specifically geared toward ranch management are less common, and aspiring ranch managers may also major in agriculture business, agronomy, agriculture economics, animal science, crop science or horticulture.

Certification, though not required, demonstrates to co-workers, employers and customers the professionalism and skills a ranch general manager possesses. The American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers offers the voluntary designation of Accredited Farm Manager ( www.asfmra.org). This certification requires a bachelor's degree, several years of work experience and in some cases an examination.

Ranch General Manager Career Information

Ranch general managers do not necessarily own the land that the ranch is on, and act as agents of the landowner to manage the livestock operation. Ranch general managers look at how to maximize the ranch's profits and minimize its expenses. This includes shopping around for the best prices on ranching materials like feed and stock. In addition to communication and organization, ranch mangers use mathematical skills for bookkeeping and accounting for the ranch, and computer skills for the digital recordkeeping and communications systems of a modern ranch.

The government can often be involved with the agriculture and ranching process, so ranch general managers need to be up to date on all federal, state and local agriculture laws.

In May 2018, the BLS reported that professional in the 90th percentile or higher earned $136,940 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $35,440 or less per year. Ranch managers in North Carolina, Minnesota, California, Nevada and Pennsylvania earned the highest wages at that time, with mean wages ranging from about $90,000 to around $100,370, as per BLS reporting.

Ranch managers should have an associate's or bachelor's degree, as well as experience in ranching. Certification is available, though it's usually not required. Employment opportunities in the field are expected to decline from 2018-2028.

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