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Salary

Average Salary: $40,401

Expected Lifetime Earnings: $1,687,000


The money in cattle all depends on how involved in the process you are. If you're just a ranch hand who gets hired for a season, you're looking at a really small sum of money, around $30,000 or less. It's not a lot of cash, to be sure, but you also don't have as much responsibility. Get cows from here to there, make money for it; that's basically all you're here to do.

If you're actually a full-fledged bona fide cattle rancher, the money is better—not crazy better, but it's not like you're herding Ferraris across the plains. On average you could make $60,000-$70,000 a year as a rancher, although that's by no means a guarantee (source). It depends on everything from the meat market to the weather conditions to whether or not your cows catch cold.

 
Mad cow? We're actually pretty happy. (Source)

Top cattle ranchers can make over $100,000 a year. This could be you—as long as everything works in your favor. As long as your cattle don't come down with mad cow disease. And a tornado doesn't wipe out your entire property. And your milo crop doesn't fail, and your beast of a tractor doesn't spontaneously combust, and you don't need an emergency appendectomy.

You know what? Just accept that some years you'll do well, and some years not so much, and in those good years you'll save for the bad ones. That's the best way to prevent moving out of the farm house and into the poor house.

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