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Career profile Ranch Hand

Also known as Cowboy, Farm Hand, Farrowing Worker, Herdsman, Livestock Handler, Milking Worker, Ranch Hand, Rancher, Vaccinator, Wrangler

Ranch Hand

Also known as Cowboy, Farm Hand, Farrowing Worker

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
  • Enterprising
Pay Range
$19,420 - $46,170 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Critical Thinking
  • Monitoring
  • Judgment and Decision Making
Knowledge Areas
  • Production and Processing
  • Administration and Management
  • Biology
Core tasks
  • Feed and water livestock and monitor food and water supplies.
  • Herd livestock to pastures for grazing or to scales, trucks, or other enclosures.
  • Examine animals to detect illness, injury, or disease, and to check physical characteristics, such as rate of weight gain.
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What does a Ranch Hand do?

Ranch Hands attend to live farm, ranch, open range or aquacultural animals that may include cattle, sheep, swine, goats, horses and other equines, poultry, rabbits, finfish, shellfish, and bees.

In addition, Ranch Hands

  • attend to animals produced for animal products, such as meat, fur, skins, feathers, eggs, milk, and honey,
  • duties may include feeding, watering, herding, grazing, milking, castrating, branding, de-beaking, weighing, catching, and loading animals,
  • may maintain records on animals; examine animals to detect diseases and injuries; assist in birth deliveries; and administer medications, vaccinations, or insecticides as appropriate,
  • may clean and maintain animal housing areas,
  • includes workers who shear wool from sheep and collect eggs in hatcheries.

What kind of tasks does a Ranch Hand perform regularly?

Ranch Hands are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Feed and water livestock and monitor food and water supplies.
  • Herd livestock to pastures for grazing or to scales, trucks, or other enclosures.
  • Examine animals to detect illness, injury, or disease, and to check physical characteristics, such as rate of weight gain.
  • Provide medical treatment, such as administering medications and vaccinations, or arrange for veterinarians to provide more extensive treatment.
  • Mark livestock to identify ownership and grade, using brands, tags, paint, or tattoos.
  • Segregate animals according to weight, age, color, and physical condition.
  • Drive trucks, tractors, and other equipment to distribute feed to animals.
  • Inspect, maintain, and repair equipment, machinery, buildings, pens, yards, and fences.
  • Move equipment, poultry, or livestock from one location to another, manually or using trucks or carts.
  • Clean stalls, pens, and equipment, using disinfectant solutions, brushes, shovels, water hoses, or pumps.

The above responsibilities are specific to Ranch Hands. More generally, Ranch Hands are involved in several broader types of activities:

Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Performing General Physical Activities
Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling materials.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment
Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or watercraft.
Handling and Moving Objects
Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.

What is a Ranch Hand salary?

The median salary for a Ranch Hand is $29,130, and the average salary is $31,060. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Ranch Hand salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Ranch Hands earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Ranch Hands earn less than $19,420 per year, 25% earn less than $23,670, 75% earn less than $36,760, and 90% earn less than $46,170.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Ranch Hands is expected to change by -8.3%, and there should be roughly 36,400 open positions for Ranch Hands every year.

Median annual salary
$29,130
Typical salary range
$19,420 - $46,170
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
-8.3%

What personality traits are common among Ranch Hands?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Ranch Hand are usually higher in their Realistic interests.

Ranch Hands typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Ranch Hand tend to value Support, Relationships, and Independence.

Most importantly, Ranch Hands moderately value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Second, Ranch Hands somewhat value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Lastly, Ranch Hands somewhat value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Ranch Hands must consistently demonstrate qualities such as dependability, independence, and adaptability/flexibility.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Ranch Hands, ranked by importance:

Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Independence
Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
Adaptability/Flexibility
Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.

What education and training do Ranch Hands need?

Working as a Ranch Hand usually requires a high school diploma.

Ranch Hands need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Ranch Hands

  • 49.9% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 28.0% completed high school or secondary school
  • 10.6% completed some college coursework
  • 4.0% earned a Associate's degree
  • 6.2% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 0.9% earned a Master's degree
  • 0.3% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Ranch Hands

Ranch Hands may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as production and processing, administration and management, or biology knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Ranch Hands might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Production and Processing
Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
Administration and Management
Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Biology
Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
Mechanical
Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Food Production
Knowledge of techniques and equipment for planting, growing, and harvesting food products (both plant and animal) for consumption, including storage/handling techniques.

Important Abilities needed by Ranch Hands

Ranch Hands must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Ranch Hands need abilities such as problem sensitivity, control precision, and oral comprehension in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Ranch Hands, ranked by their relative importance.

Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Control Precision
The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Deductive Reasoning
The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Arm-Hand Steadiness
The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.

Critical Skills needed by Ranch Hands

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Ranch Hands frequently use skills like critical thinking, monitoring, and judgment and decision making to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Ranch Hands, ranked by their relative importance.

Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Monitoring
Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Judgment and Decision Making
Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Operations Monitoring
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.