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Realistic Salary Expectations for a BM/Assistant Trainer (A-Barn)

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  • Realistic Salary Expectations for a BM/Assistant Trainer (A-Barn)

    So this spring I have the opportunity to leave my desk job behind and run my trainer's barn as BM/Assistant Trainer. She's growing immensely and is ready for more managerial help. We are looking to sit down over the holidays and go over details and discuss specifics. I want to be armed and ready with questions to ask as well as have a knowledgable idea of what to expect as far as compensation. This will be a salaried position plus commission on horses bought/sold. She isn't able to offer housing or health at the moment, but that is a possibility down the road. This is an A barn with nice horses, nice clients, excellent grooms and a beautiful facility in an affluent area. I'm already in/out of the barn 20+ hrs/wk and love the staff and fit right in regarding how the program runs. I am looking forward to being there 60+ hours (no really, I am!). I've already calculated what I *need* to make to survive, but am curious what the typical/avg salary parameters are these days for such. We also need to discuss what to do with my horse as far as boarding goes (he is not currently boarded with her, but will need to be for convenience sake). I look forward to any input. And feel free to PM me if you want to give details you wouldn't want public!

    *I should note that I've done the dirt, sweat, and tears of BM work before out of college, so my question really isn't geared towards "oh I want a horsey job, that would be fun!" - I know what I'm getting into

  • #2
    I sure hope you are going to get more than you need to survive because I bet you have underestimated that amount. Salary is only ONE thing for you to consider in these negotiations.

    Right now you have a desk job that pays benefits. Those benefits are very important if you have to start paying for them yourself. Here's some things to pay attention to:

    1. You MUST be an employee. Do not allow yourself to be paid as a contractor. No BM/Assistant Trainer position would meet the IRS definition of an independent contractor, but a surprising number of people try to pay that way.

    If you are an employee that means the employer pays the employer's share of Social Security and Medicare taxes (about 7% of income). If you are a contractor, you pay both the employer and employee amount (14%).

    If you are an employee, your employer needs to provide workers comp that covers you from injuries or illness while on the job. If you are going without health insurance, then the workers comp has to be there.

    If you can't be an employee, you really don't want this job.

    2. Speaking of health insurance, I am assuming you could keep your health coverage from your old job via Cobra. How about negotiating a contribution toward what you would pay to keep the insurance. Going without health insurance is a really bad idea, even if you have workers comp.

    3. What about vacation/holidays/sick leave? You are taking an administrative exempt job that could have you working 60 hours a week. I assume you have leave in your current job -- you need to negotiate your leave and how it is accrued.

    4. Your horse board. Be very careful about this and get whatever is agreed IN WRITING. In fact, you are better keeping this entirely separate from your employment. Just sign a boarding contract for your horse and pay for it. Better to swap checks than have the horse board tied into your pay check.

    Personally, I would look very hard at my desk job and see if that career can't offer me a bit more. The BM career path is not one with a future. It can be great fun, but I would stick to a regular job with benefits.
    Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule
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    • #3
      Sounds like fun, but also sounds kind of scary. I know I would love to get out from behind my desk but like mentioned above, it has benefits. And time off. And decent pay.

      But I know thats not what you asked. So...when one of my friends was an assistant at a very well known AA show barn out here, I'm pretty sure she was getting paid hourly at a rate that turned out to be around $800-1000 a month. However, the trainer paid for her housing. So I guess it was more like $1500 a month. No benefits, worked 6 days a week.

      This was a couple years ago though.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by KateKat View Post
        Sounds like fun, but also sounds kind of scary. I know I would love to get out from behind my desk but like mentioned above, it has benefits. And time off. And decent pay.

        But I know thats not what you asked. So...when one of my friends was an assistant at a very well known AA show barn out here, I'm pretty sure she was getting paid hourly at a rate that turned out to be around $800-1000 a month. However, the trainer paid for her housing. So I guess it was more like $1500 a month. No benefits, worked 6 days a week.

        This was a couple years ago though.
        Eek...that is REALLY on the low side.

        10 years ago I worked at an A barn for about $1200/month without housing but I got a free stall. I also was not the BM and the work was not grueling..8am to 4:30.

        My sister runs our family farm as BM/Assistant Trainer and gets $2000/month. No benefits but we are in Canada so HUGE difference there. Her days can be long but it's a little hard to compare as it's family and she can also leave for the afternoon if she needs to. She works 6-7 days a week but at least 2 of those days are easy days with only riding or night chores.

        I don't know...would around $2000/month take home for a 6 day work week with a stall be the norm these days?

        Whatever you do; don't do it for less b/c you like it. As I'm sure you know, BM positions are usually about long hours and hard work...people often get burnt out and it will happen a lot faster if you feel like you are doing more than what you are getting paid for.
        \"Don\'t go throwing effort after foolishness\" >>>Spur, Man From Snowy River

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        • #5
          Okay...I'm a barn manager at a private dressage barn in Wellington, and started here 13 years ago. This is more of a "real" job with all the benefits:
          All our full time employees (grooms and manager) receive:
          1. fair salary (that really depends on your experience and what you work out with the employer...days/hours/etc and other benefits such as housing).
          2. Housing (each have their own apartment on site, furnished with paid utilities...mine is a 2 bed/2 bath poolhouse, other groom that has been here for a while has a 2/1, and others are 1/1).
          3. We receive a paycheck, on the books, with taxes and ss taken out, also have workers comp.
          4. After working here 6 months you are eligible for benefits...health insurance is free and there is also a buy-up plan as well.
          5. Vacation time...1 week after a year, 2 weeks after 2 years, and so on until it caps out at 4 weeks/year. Remember though, we do not have paid holidays (horses have to be fed!) and we work 6 days a week..so it sounds like a lot of vacation but the work weeks are longer than a "normal" job without holidays too.

          So, the salary all depends on what other perks you receive. I would rather not tell you my actual salary, but will say it has more than doubled from when I started 13 years ago here. That is due to raises, but also just cost of living yearly raises as the economy has changed. The employees do make over $10/hour though, even part timers. It's hard, physical labor that doesn't always allow breaks or any sitting down time, so definitely make sure you are paid what you are worth, not just what you need to get by.
          Best of luck with your decision...I love the horses and even though I get achy feet/back/bruises/etc. it is so nice to work with the horses and just outside in the fresh air! I am realistic though and realize that I can't physically do this forever, so I am going back to school to complete my bachelor of business degree part time (my prior degree is in horse management) that way I can always have a back up in case of injury or whatever might happen in the future.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Czar View Post
            Eek...that is REALLY on the low side.
            Yea, that trainer blows through assistants like nobodies business though. I think a year is the average for most.

            Part of the perk though was you did get lessons from the trainer, I don't know how often. I also think training/board if you had your own horse was probably at a discount. And my friend was an assistant trainer ONLY. No BM work, just riding/teaching lessons/helping at shows.

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