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Ranch Jobs in Canada – Live Your Dream

It seems to be the dream of many travellers to find ranch jobs on cattle ranches out west. How do you find work on a ranch?

Ranch Jobs in Canada
The Canadian dream

To find work on a ranch is much harder than finding a job in the hospitality industry. It needs more effort, more experience, and more commitment.

If you already have experience in ranching, or you have mechanical skills, experience in driving big trucks or heavy equipment, know how to ride and throw a lariat, and know what’s required for ranch jobs, then you can register with one of the ranch jobs agencies, and you may be lucky.

Ranching in Canada is based around the calving season. During the off-season, fencing, haying, cleaning, and another million different jobs are expected from the workers.

To work on a ranch you need to be in excellent shape and work long hours. Many of the large cattle ranches in Canada additionally operate tourist business. The fact is, that if you do get a job at one of the ranches, it might not be the authentic lifestyle that you expect.

Canada still has working cowboys, most of them come from generations of ranching families and many are involved in the rodeo circle.

You might be a good horse rider and you want to get a Cowboying job. Sorry, most probably you’re out of luck. These ranch jobs are mostly held by Canadian Cowboys.

And, it’s a tough life, the Cowboy life. It’s not all romantic like in ‘Brokeback Mountain’.

Where Are The Working Ranches Located?

In the Calgary, Alberta region you will find some of the large Canadian Ranches. Merritt, British Columbia has many huge ranches as well. Ranches/farms are all across Canada, but the hiring ones are mainly in British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.

Other larger ranches, mostly found in Ontario, include dairy farms. They offer a different variety of work and many of the farms expect that you have experience. If you come from a small-town background, this also helps.

Guest Ranches In Canada

Another opportunity to live and work in the wilds of the Canadian west is at one of the Guest Ranches or Dude Ranch. These ranches offer tourists a western lifestyle experience and many of them have ranch jobs available. Some of these ranches call themselves working ranches, which usually means that they have cattle. Other guest ranches are horse ranches without cattle.

Most of the guest ranches don’t operate in winter and therefore only offer seasonal work.

What you should know about working on a ranch

While previous ranching experience helps with finding ranch jobs in Canada and is welcome by any employer, a good attitude and willingness to work hard are a LOT more important, especially on guest ranches. You will be welcome if you are not afraid of hard work and long hours if you are reliable, enthusiastic, and willing to learn. You also need to bring a good measure of common sense.

Ranch jobs on a guest ranch vary and may include anything from horse management and cow work, wrangler work, checking water troughs, fencing, repairs, maintenance, cutting trees, and clearing trails… You get the idea.

The same is true for domestic staff on a ranch. You might have to cook, clean, do gardening, oversee kids’ homework, help with yard work… For all ranch jobs, you need to be flexible, adaptable, and able to get along with people.

Getting along in a team and being flexible and hardworking are probably the most important traits you’ll need for all ranch jobs. You need to pull your weight and there is no room for whiners.

Accommodation and meals may be basic. Asking for a special diet is not appreciated on most ranches. You’re expected to eat what is served! learn about the Canadian Outhouse if you are a newcomer to Canada. Also, think about your shower habits. Having a shower might be limited to a couple of times a week, depending on the water supply.

Ranch jobs on a large cattle ranch maybe, that you are camped away from the ranch for days at a time, sleeping in a basic camp.

Whatever kind of ranch jobs you’re looking at, you’ll be working very long days most of the time, from sunrise to sunset, and sometimes without a day off.

Most ranches are remote and isolated

Still interested? Great, you must be one of the tough ones! You decided to go for ranch jobs in Canada and you might be lucky; many ranches need good workers badly.

Make sure you have proper travel insurance if you apply for a ranch job. Ranch jobs can be dangerous and injuries are possible.

Finding Work On A Guest Ranch

Guest ranches are a place for vacations, and they are great places to work, and they are always looking for staff.

Ranch Jobs in Canada - Riding
Working on a ranch

Guest ranches vary considerably in size and style and so do the ranch jobs. Some guest ranches are small family businesses promoting simple living, others are luxury outfits and resorts. If you see a job vacancy that interests you, take the time to read about the ranch on their website and try to imagine what it would be like to work there. Many guest ranches have a special page about ranch jobs on their website.

Consider whether it is a suitable job and the right ranch for you before applying. Try to read some reviews about the ranch. Make sure you know what is expected from you and what you can expect. Working on a guest ranch is not an easy ride. The days can be long and the work can be physically demanding.

Volunteering On A Guest Ranch

Ranch Jobs - outhouse

Large guest ranches and all the luxury ones offer paying jobs; small guest ranches rely on Volunteers.

There are two different worlds between luxury and simple (or rustic). Make sure you know what you want.

Working as a volunteer doesn’t mean you have to work less. You get accommodation and food and a western experience in exchange. You get a chance to go along on trips, and you get to ride. Of course, small ranches are more personal.

Some thoughts to consider:

  • Guest Ranching is not just a job, it’s a way of life!
  • If accommodation and meals are offered, find out whether this is also included on your days off. At some ranches, you have to leave the property during your days off.
  • Check your work schedules and any contracts.
  • Find out whether there is WiFi at the ranch and or cell phone reception
  • What will the accommodation be like?
  • What about shower facilities and toilets?
  • Will you work on your own or in a team?

More tips for finding a job in Canada.

Good luck in finding the perfect ranch job for an experience of a lifetime!


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