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Working As a Harvester 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

  • $26,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Harvester 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 Harvester 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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Harvester Operator Typical Career Paths

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Average Yearly Salary
$26,000
Show Salaries
$19,000
Min 10%
$26,000
Median 50%
$26,000
Median 50%
$26,000
Median 50%
$26,000
Median 50%
$26,000
Median 50%
$26,000
Median 50%
$26,000
Median 50%
$34,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Seneca Foods
Highest Paying City
Dover, DE
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
2.7 years
How much does a Harvester Operator make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Harvester Operator in the United States is $26,452 per year or $13 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $19,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $35,000.

Real Harvester Operator Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Harvester Operators Canam Harvesting LLC Bridgeville, DE Aug 25, 2015 $32,995
Harvester Operators Canam Harvesting LLC Laurel, DE May 06, 2015 $32,995
Harvester Operators Canam Harvesting LLC Bridgeville, DE May 22, 2016 $32,995
Harvester Operators Canam Harvesting LLC Dover, DE Sep 19, 2016 $32,995
Harvester Operators Canam Harvesting LLC Laurel, DE May 15, 2014 $32,995
Harvester Operators Canam Harvesting LLC Laurel, DE Jun 03, 2014 $32,995
Harvester Operators Canam Harvesting LLC Bridgeville, DE Sep 01, 2014 $32,995
Electric Blueberry Harvester Operator Jasper Wyman & Son Deblois, ME Aug 04, 2014 $25,044
Mechanical Harvester Operator Lozano's Harvesters Corporation Cherryfield, ME Jul 15, 2016 $24,501
Mechanical Harvester Operator Cherryfield Foods, Inc. Cherryfield, ME Jul 29, 2016 $24,501
Mechanical Harvester Operator Hennessey Brothers Whitneyville, ME Jul 25, 2016 $24,501
Mechanical Harvester Operator Cherryfield Foods, Inc. Cherryfield, ME Jul 24, 2015 $23,500
Mechanical Harvester Operator Hennessey Brothers Whitneyville, ME Jul 20, 2015 $23,500
Mechanical Harvester Operator Lozano's Harvesters Corporation Cherryfield, ME Jul 15, 2015 $23,500
Mechanical Harvester Operator Cherryfield Foods, Inc. Cherryfield, ME Jul 26, 2014 $23,416
Mechanical Harvester Operator Hennessey Brothers Marshfield, ME Jul 25, 2014 $23,416
Mechanical Harvester Operator Lozano's Harvesters Corporation Cherryfield, ME Jul 24, 2014 $23,416

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Top Skills for A Harvester Operator

  1. Heavy Equipment
  2. Farm Equipment
  3. Customer Service
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Licensed irrigation technician:Installing and maintaining irrigation systems, maintaining greenbelts, expertise in operating various heavy equipment machinery.
  • Drive and operate combine machinery and several other farm equipment to perform various farm activities.
  • Team work Cooperation McDonalds Albany, OR Customer service Cook Money management Miller Timber Service Philomath, OR Wildland firefighter
  • Helped mechanics perform regular maintenance on machines.
  • Handled entire dry grocery physical inventory including data entry input and reconciling count, item and location discrepancies.

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Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Harvester Operators

  1. New York
  2. Michigan
  3. Rhode Island
  4. Iowa
  5. Pennsylvania
  6. Massachusetts
  7. Minnesota
  8. Oregon
  9. New Hampshire
  10. Nevada
  • (151 jobs)
  • (60 jobs)
  • (6 jobs)
  • (56 jobs)
  • (86 jobs)
  • (60 jobs)
  • (54 jobs)
  • (21 jobs)
  • (9 jobs)
  • (19 jobs)

Harvester Operator Demographics

Gender

Male

74.8%

Female

16.5%

Unknown

8.7%
Ethnicity

White

62.8%

Hispanic or Latino

20.6%

Asian

7.4%

Black or African American

6.3%

Unknown

2.9%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

100.0%

Harvester Operator Education

Schools

College of Southern Idaho

8.3%

University of Maine

8.3%

California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo

8.3%

Colby Community College

8.3%

Western Washington University

4.2%

Louisiana State University and A&M College

4.2%

Kansas State University

4.2%

Central Arizona College

4.2%

Indiana University Bloomington

4.2%

Hutchinson Community College

4.2%

William M. Maguy School of Education

4.2%

Washington State University

4.2%

College of Western Idaho

4.2%

Eastern Washington University

4.2%

Santa Clara University

4.2%

Blue Mountain Community College

4.2%

Ohio State University

4.2%

Withlacoochee Technical Institute

4.2%

Oregon State University

4.2%

Coffeyville Community College

4.2%
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Majors

Business

13.0%

Biology

6.5%

Plant Sciences

6.5%

Environmental Science

6.5%

Accounting

6.5%

General Studies

6.5%

Criminal Justice

6.5%

Political Science

4.3%

Computer Information Systems

4.3%

Electrical Engineering Technology

4.3%

Journalism And Mass Communications

4.3%

Marketing

4.3%

Fire Science And Protection

4.3%

Economics

4.3%

Automotive Technology

4.3%

Electrical Engineering

4.3%

Apparel And Textiles

2.2%

Management

2.2%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

2.2%

General Education, Specific Areas

2.2%
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Degrees

Bachelors

42.0%

Other

29.0%

Certificate

8.7%

Masters

7.2%

Associate

5.8%

Diploma

5.8%

License

1.4%
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