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America was established by farmers. This country was designed for farms, what with its vast amounts of land, regular amounts of precipitation, and healthy soil made it a good place for settlers to come and make something of themselves in the new world.

Thanks to those pioneering families, America is rife with farmers. Farmers work small, medium and large farms that grow grain, vegetables, and animals for milk, eggs and meat. Farmers are early risers, who work alone or with a staff of assistants. They take care of feeding, watering, and nursing animals, spraying herbicides and fertilizer on crops and soil, and harvesting crops for processing. Each day is full to the brim with tasks, chores and the occasional emergency. Sometimes they leave the land to take animals to market or slaughter, or grain to be sold, ground, or analyzed by scientists, or to pick up supplies. However, most of the time they are hard at work on the farm.

Farmers work according to tight schedules--spring, summer, fall, and winter all have their own tasks. While spring might be for tilling and planing, and fall for harvesting, winter might be a time for repairs and maintenance.

Farmers use many skills, including a sound knowledge of science, traditional practices, and agriculture training to do their work. Many farmers today are graduates of college and university agriculture programs, as well as business school. School introduces them to new machinery (like tree shakers, combines, and soil tillers) as well as scientific breakthroughs in soil health and animal nutrition.

However, even though technology, scientific research, and big business methods are encroaching on most farming practices, farmers still do things much the same way their families did before them. They still put in a lot of time and an enormous amount of physical force into a job that has forever been a labor of love. Farmers are driven individuals who work hard to stay competitive in this increasingly modernized field of work.
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  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
Median Salary:
Highest 10% of Earners:

  Interests and Skills  
Interested in living the life of a farmer? Farmers need to be self-motivated, with a love of the outdoors, nature and animals. They must be resilient, confident in their abilities, as well as innovative, and creative problem solvers. They should be physically fit, very strong, and have good health. Farmers need to have a head for business as well as the science of agriculture. They need to be responsible, mature, and dedicated. Finally, they must be organized and methodical in their approach to farming and they must be able to work well alone.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Plant, fertilize, cultivate, spray, irrigate and harvest crops
  • Repair buildings and fences
  • Feed and care for animals (including monitoring for disease)
  • Operate and maintain equipment
  • Prepare and transport produce to market.
  • Clean barns, pens and enclosures
  • Patrol and herd grazing animals on horseback or all-terrain vehicles
  • Shear sheep
  • Attend animals during birthing
  • Sell products
  • A farmer's day starts early, ends late, and is full of hard work. They are constantly working--nothing is ever finished. There are repairs, sick animals, and failing crops to tend to. There is harvesting, planting, testing, and analyzing to be done each and every day. The tasks differ between animal and crop farmers, but the general idea is the same for both--produce healthy, bountiful products to feed and sustain the world's population, protect the environment, and make enough money to keep the farm going for next year.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Farmers work or large scale farms as well as smaller organic farms. Regardless of the size of the farm, however, they work long, hard hours, rising before the sun, 365 days a year. They do get some time off if they work with other farmers or excellent assistants.
  • Farmers work outdoors, in all types of weather. They are exposed to dangerous equipment, harmful chemicals, and animals that can sometimes get violent or aggressive.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Farmers can produce almost anything. They can sell the farm and get into researching agriculture and the possibilities for land development, environmentally sound practices, and organic production. They can become entrepreneurs, sell farming tools or take on director positions with agricultural associations.

  Educational Paths  
Traditionally, farmers learn their skills from their family members. However, with today's advances in biotechnology, crop protection, nutritional advances, and other modern developments, more and more farmers are going to school. They are taking college or university courses in agriculture; agribusiness; livestock and/or crop production; equine studies; animal, plant, and food science, as well as management, economics and accounting.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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