Looking for an education that will set you on the path to a career in the equine world? Western Horseman has gathered a couple of colleges with classes and experiences that can help you on your way.
Not all careers in the Western world involve riding. If you love the agricultural field, but don’t want to be a trainer or rancher, what can you do? Deborah Dunsford is a senior lecturer and academic advisor in the Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications department at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. She shares tips on how to find your dream job — one that might not be horseback — in the equine industry.
Think creatively about job prospects
Beyond the obvious career choices, Dunsford says there are jobs available in communications at media outlets that cover the Western industry such as horse, cattle or crop magazines, breed or species associations and more.
For every business in the Western world, there are many positions within the company, from attorneys to graphic artists to administrators. Think of saddlemakers, or trailer and equipment companies — all have a need for employees with skills unrelated to riding horses.
“All of the industries that serve the Western industry need people who do a variety of jobs,” Dunsford says. “Many of our st dents go into sales for everything from animal pharmaceuticals to animal feed companies or equipment. Some of them go into managing facilities that host Western events, such as rodeos and horse shows, along with lots of other things.”
You can also become a real estate agent specializing in farm and ranch properties.
Check your qualifications
Dunsford emphasizes the importance of having the appropriate education, experience or qualifications to secure your ideal job, and those things can vary depending on the industry.
“If you want to work for a company that, for example, sells animal pharmaceuticals or livestock feed, [and] you were wanting to move into the communications position for the whole company, you’re probably going to want to have a sales territory at some point, because that experience will be valued,” Dunsford says. “They’ll want to know that you have the experience of having that sales territory.”
Some positions require some sort of post-high school degree or certification. Some jobs, such as a veterinary technician, have a career training path and certification process.
“For folks that go into the financial side, there’ll be a degree, and depending on the company, you may want to get your Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation,” Dunsford says.
Finding your path
As you’re thinking about the career path you’d like to take, Dunsford suggests looking up on LinkedIn someone who already has your dream job, and studying their resume and background to discover the steps they took to get that position.
“If possible, get in touch with them and tell them, ‘You have my dream job,’ and they’ll usually be very flattered,” Dunsford says. “Ask them what they did to get there. What did they wish they had done? Do they wish they’d taken more classes? What do they think you’d need to do now to get into that position?”
This is a great way, according to Dunsford, to see what the ideal current steps are to obtain that position. In many fields, the methods to secure a job and experiences needed have changed over the years. This will help you plan what experiences and training you need to get where you want to go.
Whenever you’re at a horse show or other equine event, Dunsford recommends paying attention to the vendors present and the companies servicing that industry. They could be potential employers.
“Talk to as many people as you can, whether they’re your competition, some of the vendors or some of the officials,” Dunsford says. “Talk to them about what you’re interested in. You’ll be amazed, because networking is critically important. That will open more doors for you than you can ever imagine and give you more current information than you can imagine.”