An Irrigation Business
By Steve Gillman
My wife and I were recently staying at a hotel in Denver,
Colorado, and I got into a conversation about an irrigation business
while sitting in a hot tub with a family from Nebraska. The man
I was talking to was employed by an irrigation service in a town
of 210 people. The company sold and installed the systems that
make the big green circles you sometimes see as you fly over
farm country. He was in the sales department, and said times
are better than ever (this was in December of 2010).
Commodity prices are going up, and there are tax incentives
for buying irrigation systems, so even with the arrival of winter
he was making sales. Average sale: $80,000 to $100,000 he told
me, and he had made three sales in one day the week before. Salary
or commission, I asked. Both.
The systems that are coming out now are very high-tech, using
computer programs to economize on water. Soil analysis is used
to determine how much water is needed, he explained, and then
the water is doled out specially for each part of the field--each
nozzle is specifically controlled--as the irrigation line circles.
One section of a field might get an inch of water wile another
gets only a half-inch. These systems can cut water usage dramatically,
saving the farmer money. There are water restrictions almost
everywhere, so without this control, fewer acres might have to
be planted, which hurts profits.
There are many different positions in the industry. You can
sell the equipment, be a technician either installing or maintaining
the systems, work as an irrigation consultant, work in management,
or even be an auditor for agencies that monitor water usage.
How Much Can You Make?
At the low end these seem to still be decent jobs, but there
is not a distinct classification in BLS statistics, so it is
tough to pinpoint average wages. Job postings online at the moment
range from $24,000 to $102,000 at several irrigation companies,
but don't have many details about the work or requirements. I
suspect the the sales positions have the most potential. The
man I talked to got a livable salary he said, plus commissions,
and I suspect that the commission on a $100,000 sale is substantial
(and he made three sales last week!).
Of course, owning an irrigation business is a way to make
even more money. I suspect the the profit margins on those $100,000
sales are pretty good.
Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities
If you can't get into the sales department, start where you
can and look for the opportunity to transfer to sales.
Qualifications / Requirements
Although there are not always formal requirements for positions
in the industry, most companies want people with experience.
In fact, many want to see five years of experience for sales
people or technicians. To get that, you'll probably need to start
wherever you can in the company, and then work as an assistant
to a technician or in the sales department. To be a irrigation
consultant, some are looking for ten years of experience designing
of irrigation systems.
Education that can help includes courses in horticulture,
crop production, soil chemistry or irrigation. If you can intern
with an irrigation equipment manufacturer, that will help as
If you want to own an irrigation business you'll probably
need years of experience working in the field, and the ability
to raise a large amount of capital.
Use the resources below to get started earning about the industry.
Then look for a job. Part of the irrigation industry consists
of companies which deal not with agricultural clients, but with
golf courses, and personal lawns and landscaping. These jobs
start as low as $9 per hour, but they can provide experience
which might help you with getting the better positions in time.
- Irrigation business employment postings.
- The Irrigation Association is a membership organization for
irrigation companies and professionals in the industry.