In addition to on-farm work, most farm households earn an income from nonfarm sources. A USDA report finds what the most common off-farm jobs are and how skills on the farm are used away from the fields.
Research shows many farms have little agricultural production, which is why only nine percent of farm households claim income solely from farm operations. Still, skills attained on livestock and crop operations are highly transferrable.
The USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) found the most common occupations and industries for off-farm wage and salary jobs held by farm operators and their spouses.
There were some trends observed in the report, one being the tendency for farm operators and their spouses to hold professional and management occupations.
Over one-third (35.9%)of farm operators and their spouses in off-farm employment are in professional or management positions, showing the experience they’ve gained by managing a farm transfers to similar positions elsewhere. The trend was even more apparent as farm size increase and education levels exceed a college diploma.
According to the data, 56 percent of farm operators and 61 percent of their spouses with college degrees working away from the farm held professional and management positions.
Other positions held by farm operators and their spouses included sales, office support, production, maintenance and materials moving. Professional and management positions had a higher economic payoff, averaging $7 more per hour than the next highest paying positions - sales and office support jobs.
Common off-farm jobs for farm operators were in the fields of construction, agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting or mining, whereas their spouses are employed in positions related to healthcare and education.
Farm operators and their spouses who had a high school diploma were more likely to have off-farm jobs in production, transportation and materials moving.