In the times of the Old West, the cowboy career began as a way to raise beef on the open plains and transport cattle to railroads for shipping to the east where more people lived. While the career has changed, you can still become a cowboy, either as a ranch hand or a rodeo performer.
The actual pay a cowboy receives depends on his experience and job duties. For instance, a starting ranch hand may only make a few hundred dollars a month in the beginning, while a rodeo cowboy may make a good living after a few years on the circuit. Some compensation is not given in money. Ranch hands often receive additional benefits, such as free housing or food products from the farm. The additional benefits offset the lower pay.
Work with Animals
Someone who has a love of animals can enjoy working as a cowboy, especially as a ranch hand. Cowboys who work on ranches have frequent contact with horses and cattle. The more experience you have with these animals, the better pay you will receive. Therefore, it is advantageous for you to learn as much as you can about these animals. This includes care and management, such as roping cattle and saddling horses.
A cowboy's job description is often quite broad. Rodeo cowboys often compete in different events requiring specific skills. A ranch cowboy is often given a list of duties for which he is responsible each day, but he will also need to help in other areas. In addition to working with the animals, many cowboys also need to be familiar with driving farm equipment, carpentry, mechanical skills and other farming tasks. Animals are typically the focus but certainly are not the only part of a cowboy's job.
To be a good cowboy, strength is a requirement. The horses and cattle dealt with on a regular basis are large animals and require strength when handling. Whether working the rodeo circuit or a ranch, it can be dangerous for individuals unprepared or physically unable to handle the horses and cattle.
Cowboys do not require a lot of training to get started. You certainly will have an advantage If you have a degree in agriculture, took riding lessons or have practical experience with horses or cattle. However, much of the training you need to become a cowboy can be gained while working, and you do not need to spend money going to school. On-the-job training will increase your pay and benefits. Try your hand at becoming a cowboy by applying for a summer job on a ranch. You can find out if it is the right type of work for you before you make a career change.