How to Become a Ranch Manager in the US

girl with horse, ranch manager

Most of the meat we eat comes from livestock reared in ranches, and so does the wool used to make clothes and other fabrics. Ranch managers play an important role in ensuring a continuous supply of such livestock products. They supervise all the operations of a ranch and make sure the animals stay healthy. If you love working outdoors, and animals are your best friends, read on!

What do ranch managers do?

The duties of ranch managers include:

  • Supervising junior ranch workers
  • Overseeing the maintenance of structures or facilities on the ranch
  • Supervising activities such as artificial insemination, animal transportation, and feedlot management
  • Maintain positive relationships with suppliers of livestock feed and other products
  • Managing livestock sales – This involves organizing site visits for buyers who want to assess the condition of the animals before making a purchase
  • Maintaining an inventory of all animals, equipment and facilities on the ranch
  • Providing periodic updates to the owner of the ranch
  • Organizing gaming activities (for those who oversee horse ranches)
  • Keeping ranch records

Work environment

Ranch managers typically work from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, and often during the weekends. If you are good at delegating tasks, then weekend work should not be a bother, as you can delegate the work to your assistant.

Basically, you will spend most of your time outdoors. Some ranches are so expansive that managers have to walk long distances while supervising operations. Those who manage horse ranches aren’t worried about the distance though! They can patrol on a horse!


According to, ranch managers earn an average annual salary of $40,783.

Entry requirements

You need an academic background in the business of agriculture and some ranching experience to get this job.

This means your first step should be to earn an associate degree in farm and ranch management. The program will equip you with the knowledge and skills you need to run a profitable ranch, as well as improve your understanding of animal health, herding and pasture management.

Some of the institutions offering this credential include:

  • Colby Community College, Kansas
  • Central Wyoming College, Wyoming
  • Highland Community College, Kansas

After graduating, you can volunteer in ranches in your local area to gain some practical work experience and prepare yourself for employment.

Important qualities

To be a competent ranch manager, you need:

  • Excellent personnel management skills
  • Skills in resource management
  • Strong business skills
  • Good analytical skills to assess the quality of livestock
  • Good decision-making skills
  • Physical fitness
  • Good practical skills
  • Good mechanical skills (the ability to operate ranch equipment)
  • Good records management skills
  • Good organizational skills
  • An understanding of ranching laws and regulations
  • Good outdoor skills
  • A genuine passion for animals

Career advancement

After getting the job, engage in the following activities to increase your competence and career advancement prospects:

  • Pursue a bachelor’s degree in range management or other related fields such as agricultural economics or agricultural management to broaden your expertise.
  • Obtain membership in the Agricultural Personnel Management Association to access training programs and workshops that can improve your ability to manage ranch workers.

A more occupation-specific association is currently being constituted. Once it is fully available, the National Association of Certified Ranch Managers will offer professional certification and membership opportunities to ranch managers. Be on the lookout for its launch!

Job opportunities

The employers of ranch managers include:

  • Owners of ranches
  • Companies that provide farm and ranch management services

With vast ranch management experience, you can advance to set up you own ranch management company. Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in agricultural management or economics can enable you to get hired as an agricultural manager or economist in agricultural companies.

In general, there aren’t vast employment opportunities for ranch managers, as ranching requires vast tracts of land which are not affordable to many people who wish to own ranches. Nonetheless, many of the available job opportunities can be found in Texas, Oregon, Kansas and other states where ranching is widely practiced.

With a genuine love for animals and the credentials outlined above, you will be able to stand out from the crowd and get the job. Good luck!