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Working as a Farm Hand

What Does a Farm Hand 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.

How To Become a Farm Hand

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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Average Salary$25,510
Job Growth Rate1%

Farm Hand Jobs

Average Salary for a Farm Hand

Farm Hands in America make an average salary of $25,510 per year or $12 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $51,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $12,000 per year.
Average Salary
$25,510

Best Paying Cities

Average Salary
Salary Range29k - 35k$33k$32,553
Salary Range29k - 35k$33k$32,515
Salary Range28k - 33k$31k$30,795
Salary Range26k - 35k$31k$30,605
Salary Range25k - 30k$28k$28,113
Salary Range25k - 31k$28k$28,099
$16k
$35k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyCompanyStart DateSalary
Tree Farm Hand Idabel
Tree Farm Hand Idabel
Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
08/26/2020
08/26/2020
$31,68108/26/2020
$31,681
Farm Hand
Farm Hand
R.W. Sidley, Inc.
R.W. Sidley, Inc.
05/22/2020
05/22/2020
$29,21805/22/2020
$29,218
Farm Hand
Farm Hand
Seven Feathers Casino Resort
Seven Feathers Casino Resort
10/31/2019
10/31/2019
$31,30510/31/2019
$31,305
Farm Hand
Farm Hand
Umpqua Indian Development Corporation
Umpqua Indian Development Corporation
08/14/2019
08/14/2019
$31,30508/14/2019
$31,305
Farm Hand
Farm Hand
Confidential
Confidential
08/05/2019
08/05/2019
$25,04408/05/2019
$25,044
See More Recent Salaries

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Farm Hand Demographics

Gender

male

74.5%

female

23.1%

unknown

2.4%

Ethnicity

White

76.6%

Hispanic or Latino

15.4%

Black or African American

4.1%

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

57.3%

French

11.3%

German

4.7%
See More Demographics

Farm Hand Education

Degrees

High School Diploma

37.3%

Bachelors

30.7%

Associate

16.6%

Entry Level Jobs For Becoming A Farm Hand

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Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Top Skills For a Farm Hand

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 18.3% of farm hands listed farm equipment on their resume, but soft skills such as dexterity and mechanical skills are important as well.

  • Farm Equipment, 18.3%
  • Milk Cows, 14.0%
  • Tractor Trailer, 13.9%
  • Beef Cattle, 12.6%
  • Heavy Machinery, 11.8%
  • Other Skills, 29.4%
  • See All Farm Hand Skills

Best States For a Farm Hand

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a farm hand. The best states for people in this position are Maine, North Dakota, Alaska, and Nebraska. Farm hands make the most in Maine with an average salary of $33,873. Whereas in North Dakota and Alaska, they would average $32,368 and $31,983, respectively. While farm hands would only make an average of $30,866 in Nebraska, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. North Dakota

Total Farm Hand Jobs:
1
Highest 10% Earn:
$40,000
Location Quotient:
0.97
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Iowa

Total Farm Hand Jobs:
87
Highest 10% Earn:
$31,000
Location Quotient:
19.32
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Maine

Total Farm Hand Jobs:
0
Highest 10% Earn:
$38,000
Location Quotient:
0
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Farm Hand Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a farm hand. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

At Zippia, we went through countless farm hand resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Write a Farm Hand Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless farm hand resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Detailed Information

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Top Farm Hand Employers

1. Johnson Farms
3.9
Avg. Salary: 
$26,856
Farm Hands Hired: 
56+
2. Williams
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$67,837
Farm Hands Hired: 
34+
3. Taylor Farms
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$30,464
Farm Hands Hired: 
30+
4. Family Farm & Home
3.6
Avg. Salary: 
$29,018
Farm Hands Hired: 
25+
5. Davis
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$49,773
Farm Hands Hired: 
25+
6. Thompson
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$54,177
Farm Hands Hired: 
23+

Farm Hand Videos

Recently Added Farm Hand Jobs