Uncovering the Rewarding Life of a Farmer: A Comprehensive Guide to Career Duties, Benefits and Steps!

Uncovering the Rewarding Life of a Farmer: A Comprehensive Guide to Career Duties, Benefits and Steps! If you are a person who enjoys working outdoors with plants or animals, you may be interested in becoming …

Uncovering the Rewarding Life of a Farmer: A Comprehensive Guide to Career Duties, Benefits and Steps!

Uncovering the Rewarding Life of a Farmer: A Comprehensive Guide to Career Duties, Benefits and Steps!

If you are a person who enjoys working outdoors with plants or animals, you may be interested in becoming a farmer. Farmers can specialize in different agricultural sectors, providing food, animal products and raw materials. Learning more about what it’s like to work as a farmer could help you decide if this is the right path for you. In this article, we explain what a farmer does, list the potential benefits and answer some frequently asked questions about this career path.

What does a farmer do?

A farmer is an agricultural professional who raises living animals or plants. They may produce raw materials, food or animal products. They can specialize in different agricultural areas such as dairy or flowers. Their responsibilities can vary depending on their specialty, but common duties can include:

  • Planting, fertilizing and harvesting plants

  • Feeding and herding groups of animals

  • Providing special diets and care for animals

  • Collecting food or animal products

  • Performing manual labor

  • Operating farm equipment

  • Selecting and purchasing products such as fertilizer, seeds and equipment

  • Inspecting and maintaining farming equipment

  • Managing a team of farmworkers

  • Selling food products or animals to customers, stores or other farmers

  • Supervising farm facilities and repairing tools

  • Updating records with tax information, employee data and production sales

 

What is the workplace of a farmer like?

Farmers work or manage farms. They often work outside, although they may also work in an office setting when managing paperwork. Many farmers operate their own farms, run a family farm or lease land to manage a working farm. They may work independently on small farms or run large farms with a team of agricultural professionals. Depending on the size of the farm, they may supervise and maintain fields, buildings and delivery services.

Benefits of working as a farmer

Working as a farmer has many potential benefits, including:

  • Ability to work outside: Farmers spend most of their workday outside. They often wake early to feed animals, inspect crops and perform other agricultural duties. Farming can be a great profession for people who enjoy being outside.

  • Increased activity: Farming requires a lot of physical exercise and activity. This can be a great role for professionals who enjoy staying active.

  • Improved well-being: Being outside and performing physical activity could help improve your well-being.

  • High job satisfaction: Farmers perform essential work by creating food and food products for people. Some professionals feel more satisfied when they know they are doing important tasks.

  • More independence: Many farmers operate their own farms. They can schedule their days, hire employees and make important decisions.

How to become a farmer

If you are interested in becoming a farmer, consider following these general steps:

1. Research farming types

Farmers can specialize in different agricultural services. Before becoming a farmer, consider researching the types of farms to determine what path you are most interested in. Some types to consider include:

  • Organic farming

  • Tree farming

  • Cattle farming

  • Poultry farming

  • Fish farming

  • Flower farming

  • Urban farming

  • Vineyard farming

  • Beekeeping

  • Pick-your-own farming

  • Commercial farming

Farmers may specialize in one or more areas. For example, a farmer might raise poultry, cattle and organic vegetables. Learning more about the types of farming could help you plan your career path.

2. Gain farming experience

Aspiring farmers can develop industry knowledge and technical skills while working on a farm or ranch. Consider applying for an entry-level farming position or signing up as a farm volunteer to gain professional experience. Depending on your location and skills, you may find a role as a seasonal worker, ranch hand, or cashier.

3. Learn more about farming

There are no formal education requirements for this career, but farmers must possess agricultural knowledge about plants and animals. They also need technical skills to operate machinery and business skills to manage their farm’s finances. Some farmers gain this knowledge by earning an associate or bachelor’s degree in agricultural sciences, farm business or animal science. Other farmers develop their skills by completing certification courses, seminars or independent research.

4. Explore financing options

Whether you are purchasing an existing farm or starting a new farm, it’s important to consider the financing options. In some locations, there are special loans available for farmers. Other financing options can include a mortgage, credit system or investors.

5. Plan and organize your business

Operating a farm requires careful planning and business strategy. Consider organizing your information and creating a business plan before you open a new farm. You can create a budget using your expected costs and sales. Also, consider who you will use as suppliers and how you plan to sell goods. Some farmers manage their own storefronts, while others send goods to local or national buyers.

6. Purchase equipment, tools and products

The next step to becoming a farmer is purchasing your initial materials. This can vary depending on the specialty but may include tractors, plows and hay balers. You may also purchase any products you need to begin your farm, such as animals, animal food and seeds.

7. Hire a crew

Depending on the size of your farm, you may need to hire a crew of agricultural professionals to help you harvest your crops and manage your animals. You can hire full-time or part-time farmhands, bookkeepers or truck drivers depending on the size of your farm and the products you sell.

FAQ about working as a farmer

Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions about being a farmer:

How long does it take to become a farmer?

The time it takes to become a farmer can vary for each individual. Some farmers work on a family farm and develop technical knowledge early in their lives. It is possible to become a farmer after high school, although many farmers attend an associate or bachelor’s program to develop business skills and agricultural knowledge. An associate program takes two years to complete, and a bachelor’s degree takes four.

What skills do farmers need?

To perform their duties, farmers use a specific set of hard and soft skills, including:

  • Endurance: Farmers may work long hours performing physical activities. They need physical stamina and endurance to accomplish all of their tasks.

  • Time-management: Running a successful farm takes careful planning. Farmers must plan different crop cycles and schedule their days using strong time-management skills.

  • Communication: Farmers may communicate with their employees, suppliers or customers. They need strong communication and interpersonal skills to discuss prices and expectations.

  • Management skills: Depending on the size of the farm, a farmer may oversee a team of agricultural professionals. They need strong management skills to delegate tasks and motivate their team.

  • Organizational skills: Farmers can use strong organizational skills to manage business operations, file paperwork and plan schedules.

What equipment and tools do farmers use?

The equipment and tools a farmer uses will vary depending on their industry. Some of the most common types of equipment and tools include:

  • Truck

  • Utility vehicle

  • Tractor

  • Lawnmower

  • Plows

  • Backhoe

  • Tiller

  • Mechanical digger

  • Pallet fork

  • Wagon

  • Livestock trailer

  • Loader

  • Baler

  • Harvester

  • Various saws

  • Garden hoe

  • Shovel

  • Composter

  • Rake

  • Pesticide or herbicide sprayer

  • Garden hose

  • Feed storage

  • Feed scoop

 

How To Become a Farmer in 8 Steps

 

A farmer is someone who grows food and raises livestock with the intention of mass production. In this article, we describe what farmers do, explain the six crucial skills they need to have to be successful and list eight steps for how to become a farmer.

What is a farmer?

Many farmers inherit their land and continue the family tradition of farming. People who own or manage their land but did not grow up in a farming family, are known as first-generation farmers.

The daily responsibilities of a farmer will vary depending on whether they are growing crops or raising livestock, and the size of the farm. Here are some common duties:

  • Plant and harvest crops

  • Feed and care for livestock

  • Sell crops and livestock at market

  • Maintain land and equipment in good condition

  • Stay current on all farming regulations and laws

  • Keep track of accounting processes, including payroll, sales, expenses and income

What is the average salary for a farmer?

The average salary for a farmer can vary depending on many factors, including where you live, what products you produce and the size of your farm. For the most up-to-date information from Indeed, please click on the salary link below.

The average annual salary for farm managers is $51,064 per year.

What does a farmer do?

While some farmers grow food and raise livestock, other farmers produce raw materials for textiles or products, such as cotton.

Depending on the industry, a farmer’s job may entail planting fruits and vegetables, soil management and rotation, harvesting crops, the use of heavy machinery and animal husbandry. Here is a list of 13 farming industries a person might choose to work in:

  • Organic farming

  • Tree farming

  • Fish farming

  • Cattle farming

  • Poultry farming

  • Beekeeping

  • Flower farming

  • Commercial farming

  • Dry farming

  • Micro farming

  • Pick-your-own farming

  • Urban farming

  • Vineyard keeping

How to become a farmer

Here are eight steps to take if you are interested in becoming a farmer:

1. Research different farming careers

The first step in becoming a farmer is to research the various farming careers available. Some people run commercial farms in which massive quantities of food, food products, raw materials or livestock are distributed to people around the country. Other people run small farms and focus on serving a local community or niche demographic. For example, a beekeeper, micro farmer or urban farmer may focus on providing goods for people within a particular community.

Some people decide they want to run a farm that thrives on community involvement and engagement. For example, farms and vineyards where you can pick your own fruits often hold events and charge admission fees.

Take time to research how many farms are in your area. You can also find valuable career information online or by attending first-generation farming seminars. Conducting this preliminary research can help you narrow your options and identify your interests.

2. Talk to people who work in farming industries

After conducting research on the types of farms available, you will likely have a short list of career choices in farming that interest you. Use this list to identify who you should speak with in the farming industry. If you’re most interested in potentially running an urban farm, a pick-your-own type of farm or vineyard, find people who already run those types of businesses.

You might call a farming business and schedule an informational interview or you ask a few casual questions when you visit your local farmer’s market. In your research, make sure to ask questions about the farmer’s daily routine, their expectations, when they started and if they are happy with their career to gain valuable insight to use in your career planning.

3. Apply to an entry-level position

Whether you’ve narrowed your selection to one job or multiple, the next step is to apply for an entry-level position. Having farming experience before you make any major life changes or invest large sums of money can help you determine if this is the right career path for you. Also, you can use your entry-level position to forge professional connections, develop your skills, find a mentor and potentially secure a mid-level farming job.

Here is a list of entry-level farming positions you might want to consider:

  • Seasonal worker

  • Ranch Hand

  • Hay baler

  • Cashier

4. Educate yourself about farming

Professional farmers do not have set educational requirements. However, if you wish to own your own farm or manage a farm, you may benefit from earning an associate degree or bachelor’s degree in agricultural sciences, farm business, sustainability or botany. A degree in science or business can help you understand the intricacies of farming, as well as the economic and financial aspects of running a farm.

It is important to take the time to educate yourself about the farming process, how to use the equipment and tools and what to expect from this career. In lieu of, or in addition to, your two or four-year degree program, you can educate yourself on farming by reading books, attending certification courses or seminars and conducting online research.

5. Research USDA Beginning Farmers loans and microloans

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, there are a variety of loan programs and services for people who want to begin farming and those with existing farms. You can research these loan and microloan options by visiting the USDA Farm Service Agency. Applying for a loan or micro loan can secure up to $1,776,000 of financing for commercial farmers and beginning farmers and up to $100,000 of microloan financing for people looking to start a niche farming business.

6. Get organized

Create a business plan and a business model which formally plans for costs, spending, production goals and estimated profits. Your plans should include information about where you would like to start your farm and whether relocation is necessary.

Track all of your expenses and income, and keep a ledger of your transactions with suppliers.

7. Purchase your equipment

There are specific machines, equipment and tools you’ll need to get started with your farming business. Based on your research, business plan and financial calculations, you can now source and purchase the equipment that you’ll need to maintain your farm. For example, you may need tractors, plows, harvesters, hay balers or mills.

8. Hire a farming crew

The last step in readying your new farm for operation is to find and train a team of capable employees. Research the specific farming industry you wish to work in, and the roles essential to that type of business. You will likely need to fill multiple full-time and part-time roles.

Skills needed for a career in farming

Here are six skills needed for a successful career in farming:

1. Tenacity and grit

Tenacity and grit are used to describe a person’s perseverance and ability to face challenges. Starting a career in farm management is physically laborious and takes a lot of time and effort.

2. Business management

Business management involves the coordination of business operations, goals and practices. Owning or managing a farm requires that a person have a strong understanding of math, business ethics and entrepreneurship.

3. Organization and time management

Organization and time management refer to a person’s ability to best use their time, space and energy. These skills are crucial for running a farming business, as certain tasks must be completed within specific time frames to avoid wasted produce or products.

4. Understanding of earth science and sustainability

Earth science is the study of the earth and its chemical and physical makeup, and sustainability is the practice and study of preserving land, water and other natural resources. As a farmer, these principles are crucial for the operation of a successful farm.

5. Ability to operate heavy machinery

Many farming industries involve the operation of heavy machinery. It is important for farm owners and managers to know how to operate, maintain and repair these machines.

6. Strong judgment

Having strong judgment means having exceptional foresight and the ability to make good decisions. As a farm owner or business manager, you will be responsible for hiring staff members, managing schedules and making choices about suppliers and supplies. For success in these areas, it’s important for you to have sound judgment.