Careers with HorsesIf you are anything like Robert Botine Cunningham-Graham, Scottish horseman, writer, and adventurer, then you know that there is no heaven without horses. If you eat, sleep, and breathe horses, then why not parlay all your time and effort into a career in the horse industry? Can you imagine a better way to spend your days?
Surveys done over the last several years show that there are 7 million horses in the United States today. And according to American Horse Council figures, the horse industry supports more than 1.4 million full-time jobs. There are a variety of careers in the horse industry, from hands-on jobs like large-animal veterinarian to jobs that support the industry, like feed and supplement distributor. There are jobs in breeding, showing, health, education, product manufacturing, research, recreation, and service industries to name just a few that come to mind. And one of these areas is most likely just right for you!
So, how do you find a job in the horse industry that is right for you? Well, before you start randomly sending out resumes to every horse-related employer you know of, you need to spend some time considering the type of career you want. In many cases, you'll have to come up with a plan that will lead you to that career. As wonderful as it is that you want to be a large animal veterinary technician, no one is going to hire you without the right credentials. In other words, like most worthwhile pursuits in life, you are going to have to spend a little time and effort to reach your goals.
So, are you ready? Answer these few simple questions and you'll be on your way to finding an equine career that is right for you:
• What do I want out of a horse career? Do you want daily contact with horses, or are you interested in working in a supporting field without daily contact? There are pros and cons to both. A supporting role may offer you a higher income, regular hours, more job stability, and better benefits, but a hands-on career gives you flexibility and the ability to work around your favorite animals every day. What is more important to you? Think very seriously about your own interests, abilities, and personality. It won't hurt to spend a few minutes writing down why you want to work with horses.
• What experience and education do I currently have? There is no teacher like experience, but is it more important than education in the horse industry? That depends on the job. For those seeking skilled hands-on positions like trainers, barn managers, and riding instructors, the more time you've spent around horses the better. Other choices, such as equine vet, writer, public relations expert, or lawyer require a college education and additional training.
• What experience and education am I willing to get to achieve my career goals? If you require experience and education to break into a career in the horse industry, you need to have a good understanding of how much time and money it is going to cost to reach your goals. Do you have the time and money to spare, and are you willing to do so?
• What income do I need? Most people work in the horse industry because their love of horses supercedes their love of money. Many hands-on jobs provide minimal pay and benefits just for the pleasure of being around horses. Salaries improve with higher-level hands on jobs, and support jobs often pay the most and offer the best benefits. Before you make a commitment to a career, know how much money you need to live. Then do some research to find out if your career can realistically support you.
• Where should I enter the industry in order to have a good chance of meeting my goal? Whatever career track you are pursuing, enter the industry in a job that you can handle with your present skills and experience. Getting in over your head may not only prevent you from advancing, it is dangerous! Once you've figured out your entry level, you can work your way up as you gain experience.
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