Looking for an outdoor job that offers physical challenge, self-employment and seasonal work' An agriculture job or fishing job might be right for you.
Jobs in agriculture involve more than raising and harvesting crops or herding livestock. Farm workers also need business skills to sell their livestock or crops and to record, report and pay taxes. They also need mechanical skills to run and repair agricultural machinery.
Fishing work appeals to those who like locating, catching and processing fish. Despite assistance from fishing machinery and modern technology such as GPSes, radar and sonar, jobs in fishing are strenuous, hazardous and in some cases, seasonal. To get a fishing job you need to be physically strong, flexible and coordinated.
Agriculture Job Types
Farmers and ranchers working on their own farms often do everything themselves, while farming jobs on corporate farms are broken down by specialty.
Agricultural managers operate farms or ranches owned by others and manage the farm workers and ranch hands who do the day-to-day work.
Crop farmers' and crop managers' careers revolve around the production, harvest, packaging, storage and sale of crops.
Livestock ranchers, dairy farmers and poultry farmers raise animals, which includes feeding, housing, breeding and selling.
Horticultural specialty farmers create careers in an agricultural niche such as turf grass, vineyards or nuts.
Aquaculture jobs combine farming and fishing. Fish and shellfish farmers grow seafood to sell or run recreational fishing operations.
Fishing Job Types
When you take a fishing job on a big boat, be prepared to stay at sea for extended periods. On the largest boats, on-board seafood processing creates other fishing work opportunities.
Shallow-water fishing jobs are on smaller boats that stay close to shore and are operated by one or two fishermen using nets or pots to catch shrimp, crab, lobsters, oysters or scallops.
The entry-level position in a fishing career is deckhand, followed by boatswain, second mate, first mate and captain.
Agriculture Education and Certification
In the past, most farmers learned agriculture work on the family farm. Today, an agribusiness degree with courses in business, agronomy, plant disease or (for ranchers) veterinary science will boost your chances of having a successful agriculture career.
The American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers awards the Accredited Farm Manager (AFM) designation to members who demonstrate business and agricultural job skills.
Fishing Education and Certification
A high school vocational degree in fishing or community-college coursework in seamanship, vessel operations, marine safety, navigation, vessel repair or fishing technology repair will improve your chances of landing entry-level fishing employment.
To work on the largest boats, you may need a Merchant Mariner's Credential (MMC) from the US Coast Guard. Boat captains need a license.
Agriculture Job Market
The competition from large, well-capitalized, efficient commercial farms and ranches is driving family farmers out of business, but also creating more jobs for agricultural and ranch managers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that employment in agriculture will decline by 3 percent from 2010 to 2020.
Fishing Job Market
Currently, about 32,000 Americans earn their living from fishing work, but between 2010 and 2020, about 6 percent of those fishing jobs will disappear as equipment makes fishing more efficient and governments impose fishing limits, the BLS says.
Farmers' and ranchers' salaries are highly dependent on the size of the operation. Most small family farmers have another job. Overall, farmers', ranchers' and agricultural managers' median salary was $64,660 in 2011, the BLS reports. The lowest-earning 10 percent made less than $32,000 and the best-earning 10 percent made more than $112,000.
The median pay for a fishing job was $27,000 in 2011, the BLS says. The lowest-paid 10 percent made less than $21,000 and the highest-paid 10 percent earned more than $42,000, the BLS says.