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Become A Farm Operator

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Working As A Farm 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

  • $26,250

    Average Salary

What Does A Farm 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 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 Operator jobs

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Farm Operator Demographics

Gender

Male

84.1%

Female

14.2%

Unknown

1.7%
Ethnicity

White

84.8%

Hispanic or Latino

8.3%

Asian

5.4%

Unknown

1.2%

Black or African American

0.4%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

57.1%

German

28.6%

Swedish

14.3%

Farm Operator Education

Schools

Iowa State University

20.0%

Kansas State University

7.3%

Arkansas State University

5.5%

University of Iowa

5.5%

Purdue University

5.5%

Tennessee Technological University

5.5%

Washington State University

3.6%

Des Moines Area Community College

3.6%

Eastern Washington University

3.6%

Vincennes University

3.6%

Wright State University

3.6%

Hinds Community College

3.6%

Texas Tech University

3.6%

Walla Walla Community College

3.6%

University of Idaho

3.6%

Pennsylvania State University

3.6%

Delaware Valley University

3.6%

Lincoln Land Community College

3.6%

University of Central Missouri

3.6%

Grand Rapids Community College

3.6%
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Majors

Business

22.7%

Agriculture

10.1%

Agricultural Business

6.7%

Computer Information Systems

6.7%

Management

5.9%

Environmental Science

5.0%

Accounting

4.2%

Automotive Technology

3.4%

Education

3.4%

Animal Science

3.4%

Plant Sciences

3.4%

Human Resources Management

3.4%

Chemical Engineering

3.4%

Agricultural Production Operations

3.4%

Precision Metal Working

2.5%

General Studies

2.5%

Electrical Engineering

2.5%

Agricultural Engineering

2.5%

Biology

2.5%

Computer Science

2.5%
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Degrees

Bachelors

45.5%

Other

20.2%

Associate

15.5%

Masters

8.9%

Certificate

8.0%

Diploma

1.4%

License

0.5%
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Top Skills for A Farm Operator

LargeTractorsLivestockHeavyFarmEquipmentFarmMachineryCropProductionDairyCowFamilyFarmOperationEquipmentMaintenanceHeavyMachineryGPSAcreFarmIrrigationSystemsSuperviseFarmTasksFarmVehiclesJohnDeereChemicalApplicationAgriculturalProductionCDLFarmManagement

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Top Farm Operator Skills

  1. Large Tractors
  2. Livestock
  3. Heavy Farm Equipment
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Managed and operated grain and livestock farming operation, handling all aspects of the business on a daily basis.
  • Operated heavy farm equipment and tractor trailers for farming operations.
  • Maintained all farm machinery in excellent, functional condition.
  • Perform crop production duties such as planning, tilling, planting, fertilizing, cultivating, spraying, and harvesting.
  • Care for a 300 head dairy cow operation.

Top Farm Operator Employers

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