Farmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural Managers
Training & Qualifications
Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers usually have at least a high school diploma and typically gain skills through work experience.
Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers usually have at least a have a high school diploma. As farm and land management has grown more complex and costly, farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers have increasingly needed postsecondary education, such as an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree in agriculture or a related field.
There are a number of government programs that help new farmers get education in farming. All state university systems have at least one land-grant college or university with a school of agriculture. Common programs of study include business (with a concentration in agriculture), plant breeding, farm management, agronomy, dairy science, and agricultural economics.
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
Prospective farmers, ranchers, and agricultural managers typically work and gain experience under more experienced farmers. Some of them may grow up on a family farm and learn that way. The amount of experience that is needed varies with the complexity of the work and the size of the farm. Those with postsecondary education in agriculture may not need previous work experience. Universities and various forms of government assistance give prospective farmers alternatives to working on a farm or growing up on one.
Analytical skills. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers must monitor and assess the quality of their land or livestock. These tasks require precision and accuracy.
Critical-thinking skills. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers make tough decisions through sound reasoning and judgment. They determine how to improve their harvest and livestock, all the while reacting appropriately to external factors.
Interpersonal skills. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers supervise laborers and other workers, so effective communication is critical.
Mechanical skills. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers must be able to operate complex machinery and occasionally perform routine maintenance.
Physical strength. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers—particularly those who work on small farms—must be able to perform physically strenuous, repetitive tasks, such as lifting heavy objects and bending at the waist.
Those without postsecondary education take a longer time to learn the more complex aspects of farming. A small number of farms offer apprenticeships to help young people learn the practical skills of farming and ranching. Government projects, such as the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, provide a way for people without any farm training to be paired with experienced farmers, learning through internships or apprentice programs.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
To show competency in farm management, agricultural managers may choose to become certified. The American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA) offers the Accredited Farm Manager accreditation to ASFMRA members who have 4 years of work experience and a bachelor's degree. A complete list of requirements, including consultant course work and exams, is available from ASFMRA.