How Ranch Hands Work

How to Get Work as a Ranch Hand

Operation Ranch Hand
During the Vietnam War, U.S. forces stripped the Viet Cong jungle using aerial herbicide spraying. This defoliation removed both cover and food supply. This notorious and poisonous spray, better known as Agent Orange, affected South Vietnam's jungles and mangrove forests. Officials called the chemical warfare "Operation Ranch Hand."

Does working on a ranch sound appealing to you? Then, let's talk a little bit about how to land a job as a ranch hand. As with just about any job, experience and knowledge of the industry is key.

The skill set of a ranch hand is wide and varied. You can't just put on a cowboy hat, hop on a horse and get a job. A ranch hand must have agricultural and animal husbandry experience. If you didn't grow up living or working on a ranch and gain experience in that manner, employment experts suggest participating in some education programs. Look into taking courses in animal science and agricultural studies at a local community college.

Most employment ads for ranch hands require a high school diploma or GED, as well as training or experience in the fields mentioned above. Ranch hand salaries run anywhere from low-$20,000 to mid-$30,000 annually. Of course, this varies widely by location and job description. Some ranch hand jobs pay on the lower end of the scale, but provide free housing and utilities. Some pay on the higher end, but the ranch hand is required to pay for his or her own room and board. Some jobs offer health insurance and benefits -- benefits that sometimes include a free supply of beef! Some don't. Some ranch hand work is seasonal. Some isn't. Depending on your preference, you may like seasonal work that allows you to move from ranch to ranch. On the other hand, you may be looking for something more permanent.

To find a ranch hand job, you can try looking at the many job boards available on the Internet. is a Web site dedicated to connecting potential employers and employees. Ranches post job descriptions and users search by job title or location. Another similar site is

Many modern ranches even have their own Web sites. Try contacting them directly to inquire about jobs. Finding a ranch hand job is just like finding any other job -- use your networking skills.

Next up, find out the specifics about ranch hand work.