Reindeer Herding as Profession

The profession of a reindeer herder is based on information and tradition passed on from generation to generation.  In this work, nature and the eight seasons of the year are always present. There is probably no other profession that has such a close connection to the nature.  Pure nature is very important for the continuity of the herding work and reindeer herding culture. Both women and men can be reindeer herders.

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The willingness of young reindeer herders to continue herding is obviously the principle element for the continuity. The good news is that there are young people interested in becoming reindeer herders. Only in the southern reindeer husbandry area, there are problems with continuity. This is mainly due to the continuous problems with large predators.

In Finland, every fifth reindeer herder is younger than 25 years. There are more younger reindeer herders compared to the amount of those who could retire.

In practise, everyone from baby to grandparent has a valuable role. Children become familiar with reindeer herding from early childhood and the elderly people participate in herding work as long as they are able to. Work is done together, everyone is takes care of each other. Reindeer herding builds bridges between generations.

The income of a fulltime reindeer herder comes mainly from selling meat and other reindeer products. Reindeer herders are traditionally multi-skilled and active. It is common to have several different sources of income. For example, services related to tourism and selling handicrafts offer many fulltime reindeer herders an important extra income. In addition, many part time herders earn their main income through other businesses related to reindeer herding such as tourism or meat processing.

The amount of the reindeer owned is private information for every reindeer herder. It is never said out loud. When a reindeer herder is asked about how many reindeer there are, you will always get a vague answer.