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Working as a Farm Manager

What Does a Farm Manager Do

Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers operate establishments that produce crops, livestock, and dairy products. 

Duties

Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers typically do the following:

  • Supervise all steps of the crop production and ranging process, including planting, fertilizing, harvesting, and herding
  • Determine how to raise crops or livestock by evaluating factors such as market conditions, disease, soil conditions, and the availability of federal programs
  • Select and purchase supplies, such as seed, fertilizers, and farm machinery
  • Ensure that farm machinery is maintained and repaired
  • Adapt their duties to the seasons, weather conditions, or a crop’s growing cycle
  • Maintain farm facilities, such as water pipes, hoses, fences, and animal shelters
  • Serve as the sales agent for livestock, crops, and dairy products
  • Record financial, tax, production, and employee information

Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers produce enough crops and livestock to meet the needs of the United States and still have more left over for export.

Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers monitor the constantly changing prices for their products. They use different strategies to protect themselves from unpredictable changes in the markets. For example, farmers carefully plan the combination of crops that they grow, so if the price of one crop drops, they will have enough income from another crop to make up for the loss. Farmers and ranchers also track disease and weather conditions closely, because disease and bad weather may have a negative impact on crop yields or animal health. When farmers and ranchers plan ahead, they may be able to store their crops or keep their livestock to take advantage of higher prices later in the year.

Most farm output goes to food-processing companies. However, some farmers now choose to sell their goods directly to consumers through farmer’s markets or use cooperatives to reduce their financial risk and to gain a larger share of the final price of their goods. In community-supported agriculture (CSA), cooperatives sell shares of a harvest to consumers before the planting season in order to ensure a market for the farm’s produce.

Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers also negotiate with banks and other credit lenders to get financing, because they must buy seed, livestock, and equipment before they have products to sell.

Farmers and ranchers own and operate mainly family-owned farms. They also may lease land from a landowner and operate it as a working farm.

The size of the farm or range determines which tasks farmers and ranchers handle. Those who operate small farms or ranges usually do all tasks, including harvesting and inspecting the land, growing crops, and raising animals. In addition, they keep records, service machinery, and maintain buildings.

By contrast, farmers and ranchers who operate large farms have employees—including agricultural workers—who help with physical work. Some employees of large farms are in nonfarm occupations, working as truck drivers, sales representatives, bookkeepers, or information technology specialists.

Farmers and ranchers track technological improvements in animal breeding and seeds, choosing new products that might increase output. Many livestock and dairy farmers monitor and attend to the health of their herds, tasks that may include assisting in births.

Agricultural managers take care of the day-to-day operation of one or more farms, ranches, nurseries, timber tracts, greenhouses, and other agricultural establishments for corporations, farmers, and owners who do not live and work on their farm or ranch.     

Agricultural managers usually do not do production activities themselves. Instead, they hire and supervise farm and livestock workers to do most daily production tasks.

Managers may determine budgets. They may decide how to store and transport crops. They oversee the proper maintenance of equipment and property.

The following are examples of types of farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers:

Crop farmers and managers—those who grow grain, fruits and vegetables, and other crops—are responsible for all steps of plant growth. After a harvest, they make sure that the crops are properly packaged and stored.

Livestock, dairy, and poultry farmers, ranchers, and managers feed and care for animals. They keep livestock in barns, pens, and other farm buildings. These workers also oversee the breeding and marketing of the animals in their care.

Horticultural specialty farmers and managers oversee the production of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and plants (including turf) used for landscaping. They also grow grapes, berries, and nuts used in making wine.

Aquaculture farmers and managers raise fish and shellfish in ponds, floating net pens, raceways, and recirculating systems. They stock, feed, protect, and maintain aquatic life used for food and for recreational fishing.

How To Become a Farm Manager

Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers usually have at least a high school diploma and typically gain skills through work experience.

Education

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.

Important Qualities

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.

Training

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.

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Average Salary$45,674
Job Growth Rate-1%

Farm Manager Jobs

Farm Manager Career Paths

Top Careers Before Farm Manager

Manager
10.5 %
Farm Hand
10.2 %

Top Careers After Farm Manager

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Average Salary for a Farm Manager

Farm Managers in America make an average salary of $45,674 per year or $22 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $70,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $29,000 per year.
Average Salary
$45,674

Best Paying Cities

City
Average Salary
Hanford, CA
Salary Range42k - 81k$58k$58,397
Ridgefield, CT
Salary Range38k - 75k$54k$53,811
Columbus, OH
Salary Range36k - 71k$51k$51,091
Woodburn, OR
Salary Range36k - 63k$48k$48,245
Newnan, GA
Salary Range35k - 63k$48k$47,517
Homestead, FL
Salary Range32k - 50k$41k$40,692
$32k
$81k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyCompanyStart DateSalary
Farm Manager/Educator-Office of Sustainability Practices
Farm Manager/Educator-Office of Sustainability Practices
Grand Valley State University
Grand Valley State University
11/10/2020
11/10/2020
$33,80011/10/2020
$33,800
High Value Crop Farm Manager
High Value Crop Farm Manager
Ag 1 Source
Ag 1 Source
08/27/2020
08/27/2020
$70,00008/27/2020
$70,000
Farm Manager
Farm Manager
Tennessee State University
Tennessee State University
06/23/2020
06/23/2020
$28,80706/23/2020
$28,807
Horticulture/Small Fruit Farm Manager
Horticulture/Small Fruit Farm Manager
Washington State University
Washington State University
04/21/2020
04/21/2020
$26,86304/21/2020
$26,863
Manager-Department Farms
Manager-Department Farms
The Ohio State University
The Ohio State University
04/08/2020
04/08/2020
$53,00004/08/2020
$53,000
See More Recent Salaries

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Farm Manager Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Farm Manager. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Farm Manager Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Farm Manager resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Detailed Information

Farm Manager Demographics

Gender

male

70.0 %

female

26.9 %

unknown

3.1 %

Ethnicity

White

89.8 %

Hispanic or Latino

6.3 %

Asian

1.2 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

72.0 %

French

8.0 %

German

4.0 %
See More Demographics

Farm Manager Education

Majors

Business
19.5 %

Degrees

Bachelors

42.7 %

High School Diploma

21.7 %

Associate

14.7 %

Top Colleges for Farm Managers

1. Stanford University

Stanford, CA

In-State Tuition
$51,354
Enrollment
7,083

2. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

3. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

4. Maine Maritime Academy

Castine, ME

In-State Tuition
$13,478
Enrollment
979

5. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA

In-State Tuition
$56,225
Enrollment
19,548

6. California State University - Bakersfield

Bakersfield, CA

In-State Tuition
$7,309
Enrollment
9,142

7. SUNY at Binghamton

Vestal, NY

In-State Tuition
$9,808
Enrollment
13,990

8. Villanova University

Villanova, PA

In-State Tuition
$53,308
Enrollment
6,819

9. San Diego State University

San Diego, CA

In-State Tuition
$7,488
Enrollment
30,018

10. Bentley University

Waltham, MA

In-State Tuition
$49,880
Enrollment
4,177
See More Education Info

Entry Level Jobs For Becoming A Farm Manager

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Part Time
Internship
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Top Skills For a Farm Manager

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 11.9% of farm managers listed farm equipment on their resume, but soft skills such as analytical skills and mechanical skills are important as well.

  • Farm Equipment, 11.7%
  • Safety Standards, 8.8%
  • Beef Cattle, 7.1%
  • Farm Operations, 5.4%
  • Payroll, 5.1%
  • Other Skills, 61.9%
  • See All Farm Manager Skills

Best States For a Farm Manager

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a farm manager. The best states for people in this position are New York, Illinois, New Jersey, and West Virginia. Farm managers make the most in New York with an average salary of $64,892. Whereas in Illinois and New Jersey, they would average $63,098 and $61,840, respectively. While farm managers would only make an average of $58,848 in West Virginia, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. New York

Total Farm Manager Jobs:
296
Highest 10% Earn:
$121,000
Location Quotient:
1.09
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Illinois

Total Farm Manager Jobs:
258
Highest 10% Earn:
$112,000
Location Quotient:
1.03
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. South Dakota

Total Farm Manager Jobs:
15
Highest 10% Earn:
$86,000
Location Quotient:
1.21
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Farm Manager Employers

1. Murphy-Brown
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$43,086
Farm Managers Hired: 
84+
2. Tyson Foods
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$37,931
Farm Managers Hired: 
15+
3. Seaboard
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$40,468
Farm Managers Hired: 
14+
4. Aviagen
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$47,923
Farm Managers Hired: 
10+
5. Fisher Farms
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$42,301
Farm Managers Hired: 
9+
6. Pilgrim's Pride
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$30,886
Farm Managers Hired: 
7+

Farm Manager Videos

Recently Added Farm Manager Jobs

Updated October 2, 2020