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Working as an Irrigation Worker

What Does an Irrigation Worker 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 an Irrigation Worker

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$24,802
Job Growth Rate1%

Average Salary for an Irrigation Worker

Irrigation Workers in America make an average salary of $24,802 per year or $12 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $28,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $21,000 per year.
Average Salary
$24,802

Best Paying Cities

City
Average Salary
Aberdeen, SD
Salary Range26k - 33k$30k$29,627
Caldwell, ID
Salary Range20k - 24k$23k$22,543
$20k
$33k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyCompanyStart DateSalary
Irrigation Worker
Irrigation Worker
Murrieta Valley USD
Murrieta Valley USD
10/31/2019
10/31/2019
$38,01610/31/2019
$38,016
General Farm/Irrigation Worker
General Farm/Irrigation Worker
FJ Farms
FJ Farms
08/19/2019
08/19/2019
$25,52408/19/2019
$25,524
Farm/Irrigation/Livestock Worker
Farm/Irrigation/Livestock Worker
Shoreline Farms, LC
Shoreline Farms, LC
08/19/2019
08/19/2019
$27,40208/19/2019
$27,402
Farm/Irrigation/Livestock Worker
Farm/Irrigation/Livestock Worker
Cooksey Produce, LLC
Cooksey Produce, LLC
08/06/2019
08/06/2019
$27,40208/06/2019
$27,402
General Farm/Irrigation Worker
General Farm/Irrigation Worker
Kirk S. Egbert Ranches, Inc.
Kirk S. Egbert Ranches, Inc.
07/30/2019
07/30/2019
$28,13307/30/2019
$28,133
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Irrigation Worker Demographics

Gender

male

84.1 %

female

11.6 %

unknown

4.3 %

Ethnicity

White

58.2 %

Hispanic or Latino

32.6 %

Black or African American

5.1 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

70.0 %

German

10.0 %

Italian

10.0 %
See More Demographics

Irrigation Worker Education

Majors

Degrees

High School Diploma

42.3 %

Bachelors

30.8 %

Associate

19.2 %
Job type you want
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Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Best States For an Irrigation Worker

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as an irrigation worker. The best states for people in this position are Florida, Maine, Georgia, and Oklahoma. Irrigation workers make the most in Florida with an average salary of $32,656. Whereas in Maine and Georgia, they would average $32,338 and $32,087, respectively. While irrigation workers would only make an average of $31,993 in Oklahoma, 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. Georgia

Total Irrigation Worker Jobs:
51
Highest 10% Earn:
$37,000
Location Quotient:
1.48
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. Florida

Total Irrigation Worker Jobs:
42
Highest 10% Earn:
$38,000
Location Quotient:
0.78
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 Irrigation Worker Jobs:
0
Highest 10% Earn:
$40,000
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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Top Irrigation Worker Employers

1. RT Holdings
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$24,153
Irrigation Workers Hired: 
20+
2. Valley View Hospital
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$22,474
Irrigation Workers Hired: 
19+
3. Huntsman Corporation
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$24,015
Irrigation Workers Hired: 
18+
4. Marks
4.2
Avg. Salary: 
$23,607
Irrigation Workers Hired: 
15+
5. Blaine Larsen Farms
3.9
Avg. Salary: 
$23,430
Irrigation Workers Hired: 
14+
6. The Reynolds Company
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$24,232
Irrigation Workers Hired: 
14+
Updated October 2, 2020