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Working As a Farm Equipment Operator

  • Controlling Machines and Processes
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment
  • Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment
  • Handling and Moving Objects
  • Deal with People

  • Outdoors/walking/standing

  • $25,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Farm Equipment Operator Do

Agricultural workers maintain the quality of farms, crops, and livestock by operating machinery and doing physical labor under the supervision of farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers.

Duties

Agricultural workers typically do the following:

  • Harvest and inspect crops by hand
  • Irrigate farm soil and maintain ditches or pipes and pumps
  • Operate and service farm machinery and tools
  • Spray fertilizer or pesticide solutions to control insects, fungi, and weeds
  • Move shrubs, plants, and trees with wheelbarrows or tractors
  • Feed livestock and clean and disinfect their pens, cages, yards, and hutches
  • Examine animals to detect symptoms of illnesses or injuries
  • Use brands, tags, or tattoos to mark livestock in order to identify ownership and grade
  • Herd livestock to pastures for grazing or to scales, trucks, or other enclosures
  • Administer vaccines to protect animals from diseases

The following are examples of types of agricultural workers:

Crop, nursery, and greenhouse farmworkers and laborers perform numerous tasks related to growing and harvesting grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other crops. They plant, seed, prune, irrigate, and harvest crops, and pack and load them for shipment.

Farmworkers also apply pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers to crops. They repair fences and some farm equipment.

Nursery and greenhouse workers prepare land or greenhouse beds for growing horticultural products such as trees, plants, flowers, and sod. They also plant, water, prune, weed, and spray the plants. They may cut, roll, and stack sod; stake trees; tie, wrap, and pack plants to fill orders; and dig up or move field-grown shrubs and trees.

Farm and ranch animal farmworkers care for live animals, including cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, horses, poultry, finfish, shellfish, and bees. These animals usually are raised to supply meat, fur, skins, feathers, eggs, milk, or honey.

These farmworkers may feed, herd, brand, weigh, and load animals. They also keep records on animals; examine animals to detect diseases and injuries; and administer medications, vaccinations, or insecticides.

Many workers clean and maintain animal housing areas every day. On dairy farms, animal farmworkers operate milking machines.

Agricultural equipment operators use a variety of farm equipment to plow and sow seeds, as well as maintain and harvest crops. They may use tractors, fertilizer spreaders, balers, combines, threshers, and trucks. These workers also operate machines such as conveyor belts, loading machines, separators, cleaners, and dryers. Workers may make adjustments and minor repairs to equipment.

Animal breeders use their knowledge of genetics and animal science to select and breed animals that will produce offspring with desired traits and characteristics. For example, they breed chickens that lay more eggs, pigs that produce leaner meat, and sheep with more desirable wool. Other animal breeders breed and raise cats, dogs, and other household pets.

To know which animals to breed and when to breed them, animal breeders keep detailed records. Breeders note animals’ health, size, and weight, as well as the amount and quality of the product they produce. Animal breeders also track the traits of animals’ offspring.

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How To Become A Farm Equipment Operator

Agricultural workers typically receive on-the-job training. A high school diploma is not needed for most jobs as an agricultural worker; however, a high school diploma typically is needed for animal breeders.

Education and Training

Most agricultural workers do not need a high school diploma; however, a high school diploma typically is needed for animal breeders. Some jobs as an animal breeder may require some postsecondary education.

Agricultural workers typically receive some short-term on-the-job training. Employers instruct them on how to use simple farming tools and more complex machinery while following appropriate safety procedures. More experienced workers also are expected to perform routine maintenance on the tools they use.

Important Qualities

Dexterity. Agricultural workers need excellent hand–eye coordination to harvest crops and operate farm machinery.

Listening skills. Agricultural workers need to work well with others. Because they take instructions from farmers and other agricultural managers, effective listening is critical.

Physical stamina. Agricultural workers need to be able to perform laborious tasks repeatedly.

Physical strength. Agricultural workers must be strong enough to lift heavy objects, including tools and crops.

Mechanical skills. Agricultural workers must be able to operate complex farm machinery. They also occasionally do routine maintenance on the machinery.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Animal breeders sometimes need previous work experience interacting with livestock. Ranch workers may transition into animal breeding after they become more familiar with animals and learn how to handle them.

Advancement

Agricultural workers may advance to crew leader or other supervisory positions. The ability to speak both English and Spanish is helpful for agricultural supervisors.

Some agricultural workers aspire to become farmers, ranchers, or agricultural managers or to own their own farms and ranches. Knowledge of produce and livestock may provide an excellent background for becoming buyers or purchasing agents of farm products. Those who earn a college degree in agricultural science could become agricultural or food scientists.

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Farm Equipment Operator Typical Career Paths

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Average Yearly Salary
$25,000
Show Salaries
$21,000
Min 10%
$25,000
Median 50%
$25,000
Median 50%
$25,000
Median 50%
$25,000
Median 50%
$25,000
Median 50%
$25,000
Median 50%
$25,000
Median 50%
$31,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Taylor Farms
Highest Paying City
Knoxville, TN
Highest Paying State
Minnesota
Avg Experience Level
3.9 years
How much does a Farm Equipment Operator make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Farm Equipment Operator in the United States is $25,765 per year or $12 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $21,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $31,000.

Real Farm Equipment Operator Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Agricultural Equipment Operator/Farm Worker Ben Froese Farms Seminole, TX Sep 21, 2015 $38,563 -
$39,563
Farm Equipment Operator Statz Bros. Inc. Sun Prairie, WI Dec 28, 2007 $36,752
Farm Worker-Equipment Operator Olson Transport Co, LLC Douglas, ND Jan 01, 2014 $31,827
Farm Worker-Equipment Operator Corey Murray Wimbledon, ND Dec 17, 2013 $31,827
Farm Equipment Operator Ken Huse & Sons Onida, SD May 27, 2015 $28,362
Farm Equipment Operator Gerard Kadlec Trucking LLC Roscoe, SD Apr 15, 2015 $28,362
Farm Equipment Operator Ken Huse & Sons Onida, SD Apr 02, 2014 $27,987
Farm Equipment Operator Gm Dix, Inc. Woodston, KS Feb 12, 2016 $26,790
Crop Farming-Equipment Operator Arnold Bros Water Management Hazel, SD Dec 19, 2013 $25,733
Farm Worker-Equipment Operator B & A Young, LLC Madrid, NE Dec 30, 2013 $25,733
Farm Worker-Equipment Operator West Acres Farm Partnership Onida, SD Dec 27, 2013 $25,733
Farm Equipment Operator Mark Yaggie Farms, Inc. Breckenridge, MN Mar 14, 2016 $25,086
Farm Equipment Operator Sorg Farm Hastings, MN Apr 04, 2016 $25,086
Equipment Operator/Farm/Irrigation Worker Blaine Larsen Farms, Inc. Hamer, ID Mar 17, 2016 $24,522
Farm Equipment Operator Wesley Jones Farms LA Jul 30, 2014 $20,599
Farm Equipment Operator Et Farm & Cattle Deerfield, KS Jan 30, 2008 $19,827
Farm Equipment Operator Et Farm & Cattle Deerfield, KS Nov 07, 2007 $19,827
Farm Equipment Operator Wayne A. McKinney Weskan, KS Feb 03, 2010 $19,827
Farm Equipment Operator Love Agricultural Company Montezuma, KS Aug 30, 2012 $18,992
Farm Equipment Operator Evans Cattle, Inc. Gove City, KS Jul 08, 2010 $18,574
Farm Equipment Operator Staley Farms Garden City, KS Mar 04, 2009 $18,574
Farm Equipment Operator Kolb Farms Hugoton, KS Dec 22, 2010 $18,261
Farm Equipment Operator Falfa Farms 95 Queen Creek, AZ Feb 20, 2008 $15,653
Farm Equipment Operator Falfa Farms 95 Queen Creek, AZ Jan 09, 2008 $15,653
Farm Equipment Operator Falfa Farms 95 Queen Creek, AZ Nov 26, 2007 $15,653
Farm Equipment Operator Falfa Farms 95 Queen Creek, AZ Oct 15, 2007 $15,653
Farm Equipment Operator Arlington Valley Farms Arlington, AZ Dec 27, 2007 $15,653
Farm Equipment Operator Arlington Valley Farms Arlington, AZ Dec 21, 2007 $15,653
Farm Equipment Operator Table Top Tillage CA Dec 19, 2007 $15,131
Farm Equipment Operator M & G Farms Coolidge, AZ Jun 10, 2008 $14,922

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Top Skills for A Farm Equipment Operator

  1. Grain Farm
  2. Heavy Equipment
  3. Preventative Maintenance
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Operate equipment and general labor in the daily operation of the grain farm, and preform other task as required and necessary
  • Experience in operation of heavy equipment used in soil cultivation Experience in maintenance and servicing equipment used
  • Maintained 100% preventative maintenance logs on all project equipment keeping continuous availability resulting in zero breakdowns or project delays.
  • Preformed general maintenance around the farm and dairy including farm vehicles and equipment.
  • Perform night chores and various farm equipment operations

Rank:

Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Farm Equipment Operators

  1. Iowa
  2. Minnesota
  3. Alaska
  4. Kansas
  5. Alabama
  6. Michigan
  7. South Dakota
  8. Arkansas
  9. Nebraska
  10. Florida
  • (122 jobs)
  • (86 jobs)
  • (27 jobs)
  • (37 jobs)
  • (70 jobs)
  • (54 jobs)
  • (10 jobs)
  • (31 jobs)
  • (29 jobs)
  • (243 jobs)

Farm Equipment Operator Demographics

Gender

Male

86.4%

Unknown

6.8%

Female

6.8%
Ethnicity

White

71.1%

Hispanic or Latino

11.4%

Black or African American

9.1%

Asian

4.7%

Unknown

3.7%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

100.0%

Farm Equipment Operator Education

Schools

Iowa State University

7.7%

Oklahoma State University

7.7%

Chippewa Valley Technical College

5.8%

Richland Community College

5.8%

State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill

5.8%

Big Bend Community College

5.8%

Fresno City College

5.8%

Brigham Young University

5.8%

Idaho State University

5.8%

The Academy

5.8%

Texas A&M University

3.8%

Alexandria Technical College

3.8%

Arkansas State University

3.8%

Northwest Lineman College

3.8%

Oregon State University

3.8%

Pittsburg State University

3.8%

Pennsylvania State University

3.8%

Lansing Community College

3.8%

Rappahannock Community College

3.8%

Tarleton State University

3.8%
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Majors

Automotive Technology

15.4%

Business

13.7%

Precision Metal Working

7.7%

Criminal Justice

7.7%

General Studies

7.1%

Agricultural Business

7.1%

Electrical Engineering Technology

3.8%

Biology

3.8%

Fire Science And Protection

3.3%

Agriculture

3.3%

Mechanical Engineering

3.3%

Drafting And Design

2.7%

Computer Science

2.7%

Electrical Engineering

2.7%

Liberal Arts

2.7%

General Education, Specific Areas

2.7%

Heavy/Industrial Equipment Maintenance Technologies

2.7%

Heating And Air Conditioning

2.7%

Nursing

2.2%

Education

2.2%
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Degrees

Other

42.3%

Bachelors

24.5%

Associate

18.5%

Certificate

7.5%

Masters

3.1%

Diploma

2.8%

License

1.3%
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Updated May 19, 2020