CAREER DEVELOPMENT / MAY. 16, 2014
version 6, draft 6

How to Become a Farm Manager

Farm Manager
istock

For many of us, we’ll never experience farming firsthand. We do however enjoy products that farms supply. All the meat, diary, and produce that we consume, comes from farmers worldwide.

For those individuals who do have experience farming, enjoying all that it offers; why not become a farm manager? 

What Does a Farm Manager Do?

Before we dive into how you become a farm manager, let’s focus on what this career entails. As mentioned, farms highly differ one from the other. Some farms will solely target corn, others will focus on livestock, the next farm may produce dairy, while a collection of farms will do an assortment of the mentioned specialties.

It is hard to generalise regarding farm management, but some of the main tasks include:

  • Managing finances, staying within budget.
  • Everyday activities; feed livestock, run machinery, maintenance, and more.
  • Purchasing needed supplies; food, fertilizer, seeds, etc.
  • Training and monitoring staff, as well as monitoring the health of livestock.
  • Organising; deadlines, production, and tasks.
  • Maintaining biodiversity through sustainable measures.
  • Planning for business ahead, weather conditions, etc.

As you can see, a farm manager is a very busy individual. They not only have many tasks to perform, but they need to have a vast amount of knowledge. They need to be aware of health and safety concerns, pest control, effective production, and environmental factors just to name a few.

What is Required to Become a Farm Manager?

When it comes to entering the world of farming, many farmers are born into this line of work. There are many family farms that carry on through generations. With that being said, there are some people who have a passion for farming and would like to get involved.

Depending on the farm you’re applying to, they may value different things. Some farms will hire based on experience alone, while others want to see that you have some education to back your experience up. Some or all of these requirements is what a prospective farm will look for:

  1. Experience: Farming is a hard job, and requires you to know a variety of important details. A lot of farming knowledge will simply come with experience. A potential employer will want to know that you have experience with farming practices and techniques. There’s more to farming than driving a tractor, they will want to know that you’re ready for the main tasks.
  2. Education: Although some farms will hire off experience alone, many will want to see that you have some sort of educational training. Majority of farm managers will hold a degree in agriculture. Other related degrees are; farm business management, horticulture, or agricultural engineering.
  3. Knowledge: Your knowledge of farming will be just as critical as your experience. Farms will want to see that you understand; basic farming practices, animal welfare, food production, and environmental concerns.
  4. Administrative: It will be key to have a thorough understanding of the administrative side of farming. This will include; marketing, planning, finances, time management, negotiation skills, business awareness, and more.

Pay

  • Starting salaries tend to be in around £20,000 per year. 
  • More experienced farm managers make between £26,000 to 40,000 per year.
  • Farm managers who have been working for 10-15 years can make up to £70,000 pounds per year (averaging about £50,000/year).

Career Development

When it comes to being a farm manager, you will more than likely need to work your way up into that position. Of course there are various exceptions, but you will more than likely start at a lower position. If you were to approach a farm, you would more than likely start as an assistant. You may be managing a specific unit within the farm. Many large farms will have multiple units. For example, you may be the manager of the livestock unit. Once you tackle that task with confidence and success, there will be room to grow.

It is not uncommon for a farm manager to work at various farms before he/she is situated at one final location. Before you gain the title of farm manager, you may need to work at several farms. This is due to many modern farms devoting their time and energy to one specific aspect of farming. If you want to become a farm manager, it’s important to have a vast knowledge of all areas. You may manage a dairy farm for a year, then move onto a vegetable farm. It’s important to understand different aspects in order to be well rounded. Once you have built up your experience; you may be situated at one farm, or oversee multiple farms.

Once you have reached this point, you may want to buy your own farm. You could run your own business, within your backyard. You can then hire employees to work on your own personal farm. You will take all the skills and experience you collected along the way, in order to create a successful business.

Depending on where you see yourself, you may even want to approach education. There are opportunities to teach, or work within government departments. Once you are a farm manager, there are multiple doors that open.

For those farm managers who enjoy a sense of adventure, farming is offered worldwide. Perhaps you would like to work for a year in Canada, then move to Australia, or New Zealand. Whether your goal is to farm in Africa, or around the corner from where you grew up; there’s travelling opportunities available.

So, if you’re interested in running a farm; look into farm management. Whether you want to work for someone else, or run your own business; becoming a farm manager is your ticket to that dream. Although farming is hard work, it’s rewarding and enjoyable to many. Farming is more than a career, it becomes a way a life. Don’t hesitate to approach local farmers in your community. Ask  them about their journey, and express your passion towards the farming industry. They are the best people to talk to when trying to develop your farm management direction.

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