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Why did you choose this career?
Having born and brought up in Texas, I have always heard of ranches and how people manage them. Once I grew up, I also became a part of such conversations. During most of the conversations, a ranch in Tehama County was discussed, and people were all praises for the owners, Bill and Kay Burrow. The couple owns and operates the Ranch that is spread over an area of 3,500 acres. I had even heard that the Burrows Ranch had been appreciated by the government several times. I got influenced by this couple, and gradually, the idea of becoming a Farm or Ranch Manager seemed perfect to me. Even before I got myself enrolled for the requisite educational course, I was very much engrossed in this field. So, my role model acted as a catalyst that enticed me to choose this career. Once I started the course, my fascination for the job grew manifold, and I decided to pursue this job.
Education and training required
To become a Farm or Ranch Manager, a candidate is required to earn a degree in Farm and Ranch Management. Additional educational courses that teach “agriculture technology” and “animal management” can be of great help because of the variety of job functions in a ranch. Farm and Ranch Management course includes knowledge about soil, agriculture, various crops, pests, weeds, animal breeding, and other related subjects. It is advisable for aspirant candidates of Farm and Ranch Manager to undergo some management course as well. This will help them in attaining knowledge of marketing and finance. A further degree in agriculture law can be an added advantage.
It is understood that the duties of a Farm or Ranch Manager are of varied nature. As there might be times when a Farm or Ranch Manager might have to do some repairing jobs in the absence of the concerned technician; especially in farms or ranches of smaller size. So it is always better to have an additional certification/license in some trade that might be related to any technical aspect (such as diesel technology or electrical) within the farms or ranches. The best way to get experience in this field is to reside and work on a farm or a ranch — this way, the intricacies of the trade can be understood in a better manner.
Several educational institutions in Texas provide the requisite degree course in Farm and Ranch Management. One such educational institution is the North Central Texas College. Considering the varied nature of the job of a Farm or Ranch Manager, the college offers “the Farm and Ranch Management Degree and the Agriculture Management Certificate” (NCTC, 2014a). The college has three semesters that start in January, June, and August each year. The “open admission” policy of the college permits admission to students from all walks of life, irrespective to their preceding educational qualification, sex, ethnicity, culture, physical condition, etc. However, certain courses, such as Nursing require the candidates to fulfill certain criteria. Even students who don’t have the citizenship of the country are allowed to enroll for the program, provided they “graduated from a Texas public high school or received a GED in Texas” (NCTC, 2014b). The college also offers financial aid to the eligible students as per the Federal and State policies. The following chart depicts the hourly tuition fee rates at the college:
America has probably the largest agricultural areas, and as such, the prospects of the Farm and Ranch Managers seem to be encouraging. As the name suggests, the main responsibility of a Farm and Ranch Manager is to manage a farm or ranch in the best possible manner. It might seem an easy job, but the intricacies involved make it tougher than the toughest job.
The Farm and Ranch Manager manages the day-to-day functions of a farm or ranch. He/she might be responsible for more than one farm or ranch at a time. If the farm or ranch is bigger, the manager might have to look after the important aspects only, but in the case of a smaller farm or ranch, he/she might have to oversee all the operations.
It is understood that weather plays a crucial role in the farm’s output, and as such, the manager should be well aware of the crops to be planted at different times of the year. The manager also has to keep an eye on the prices of various crops and other products (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014a). The main intention of the manager is to bring profit to the farm or ranch. Well, planning is also very crucial for a manager to benefit from the existing and future market trends. It is advisable for a manager to draw contracts with parties for future business.
A manager should be aware of the cooperative markets so that the products can be sold at reasonable prices. This way, some of the financial risks might be averted (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014a). The manager is also responsible for keeping track of the finances. He/she is responsible for dealing with the concerned banks and availing loan as and when required to maintain livestock and paraphernalia for the farm or ranch. Considering the advancement in technology and the use of the latest technology by banks and other financial institutions is imperative for the manager to be computer-savvy.
The duties of a Farm and Ranch Manager also include overseeing the packaging and storage of products. He/she is also responsible for the products’ marketing to get the best bargain. The Texas Department of Agriculture also assists with the marketing of farm products (Texas Department of Agriculture, 2014). The size of the farm or ranch also decides a manager’s duties. Larger farms or ranches have ample workforce to do most of the jobs, but in smaller farms or ranches, where there is a limited number of people to work, the manager might have to perform physical labor as well (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014a).
During the harvesting season, the Farm and Ranch Manager might have to put in longer working hours (generally from early morning till late evening). The remaining parts of the year require less exertion. However, the livestock needs to be managed throughout the year; there are several chores (such as feeding and milking) about livestock that needs to be attended daily (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014b).
Possible places of employment
The possible places of employment for this kind of job will be where agriculture is done at a large scale. In America, “California, Texas, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas are the leading agricultural States” (CollegeGrad, 2014). People usually prefer their home states for doing jobs. But overall, Texas seems to be a nice place to accept a job of Farm and Ranch Manager. But every person has his/her perceptions about the place of work.
Salary range & demand for this career
According to figures reported by The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average pay for this job category (in 2012) was USD 69,300 per year and USD 33.32 per hour. The report further informs that in the year 2012, the number of jobs for this category was 930,600 and the prospects seem to decline. It is forecasted that by the end of the year 2020, there will be a decrease of 19 percent in this job category (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014b).
The pay structures change annually and is dependent mainly on the prices of the products. It should be understood that the prices fluctuate due to the output of the farms. The output depends on various factors such as the climatic conditions (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014b). Other factors responsible for the output are the soil and the landscape.
As stated above, the employment opportunity for this sector is expected to go down by 19% by the year 2020. The reason for this decline is the increased use of modern technology in farming operations. While the use of such technology increases the output, it decreases the number of people required to perform the required jobs (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014b).
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The following chart depicts the projected employment scenario:
Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2014a). What farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers do. Web.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2014b). Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers. Web.
CollegeGrad. (2014). Career information. Web.
NCTC. (2014a). Farm & Ranch Management. Web.
NCTC. (2014b). Office of admissions/Registrar. Web.
Texas Department of Agriculture. (2014). Trade & business development. Web.