Career Development

What Does an Agricultural Worker Do?

Find out what an agricultural worker does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as an agricultural worker.

Agricultural workers are the people who plant, grow, and harvest the food we eat. They work in a variety of settings, from large industrial farms to small family operations. Their job is physically demanding but rewarding—they get to spend their days outdoors working with nature.

Agricultural Worker Job Duties

Agricultural workers have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Perform manual labor tasks such as planting, weeding, and harvesting crops
  • Operating machinery such as tractors and irrigation systems to cultivate fields
  • Maintaining records of crop yields, harvesting methods, and equipment maintenance activities
  • Assisting with farm animal care, including feeding and cleaning cages or pens
  • Planting new crops and tending existing crops to ensure that they are growing properly and are ready for harvest
  • Maintaining the general upkeep of the farm, including repairs to buildings and equipment
  • Inspecting crops for signs of disease or damage caused by insects or animals
  • Operating heavy machinery such as tractors and harvesters to plant, fertilize, or harvest crops
  • Performing manual labor such as digging ditches, setting up fences, or constructing barns or fences

Agricultural Worker Salary & Outlook

Agricultural worker salaries vary depending on their level of experience, the type of work they do, and the region in which they live.

  • Median Annual Salary: $52,500 ($25.24/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $145,000 ($69.71/hour)

The employment of agricultural workers is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

Employment growth will largely be driven by the need to replace workers who leave the occupation. As baby boomers continue to age and leave the workforce, some workers may stay in their current jobs rather than retire or move to less physically demanding work.

Agricultural Worker Job Requirements

Agricultural workers may need to meet the following requirements:

Education: Most agricultural workers need only a high school diploma or GED certificate. Some employers may prefer candidates who have completed some post-secondary education in agriculture or a related field.

Training & Experience: Agricultural workers typically receive on-the-job training from their supervisors or other experienced workers. This training may include instruction on how to use specialized equipment, how to perform specific tasks and how to handle animals. Training may also include instruction on how to properly handle and dispose of chemicals and waste.

Certifications & Licenses: Certifications are not usually required to become an agricultural worker, but some employers may require them. Certifications can make you a more competitive job candidate and demonstrate that you have additional skills or knowledge that can help an employer.

Agricultural Worker Skills

Agricultural workers need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication skills: Communication skills are necessary for interacting with supervisors, customers and other workers. As an agricultural worker, you may be required to give presentations to groups of people about the importance of farming practices or the health risks of consuming certain foods. You may also be required to answer questions from customers about the origin of the food they are purchasing.

Attention to detail: Attention to detail is a necessary skill for agricultural workers, as it allows them to complete their work accurately. This skill can help them perform their duties to the standards of their employer and ensure the quality of their work is high. Attention to detail can also help them identify any potential hazards on the job site and take the necessary precautions to keep themselves safe.

Physical stamina: Agricultural workers often perform physically demanding tasks, such as lifting heavy equipment, harvesting crops and moving livestock. Having a high level of physical stamina can help you complete your tasks efficiently and safely.

Problem-solving skills: Agricultural workers often work in teams and may need to solve problems together. Having good problem-solving skills can help you work with others to find solutions to challenges. You may also need to solve problems on your own, such as when you need to fix a piece of equipment or find a way to get to a field when the weather is bad.

Teamwork skills: Agricultural workers often work in teams to complete their tasks. For example, a group of workers may be responsible for harvesting a large field of crops. Working together can help them complete the task more efficiently and safely.

Agricultural Worker Work Environment

Agricultural workers are employed in a variety of settings, including farms, ranches, greenhouses, nurseries, and orchards. They may work outdoors in all types of weather conditions and may be exposed to dust, pollen, and other airborne particles. They may also be exposed to hazardous chemicals, such as pesticides and herbicides. Agricultural workers typically work long hours, often more than 40 hours per week. They may work early morning, evening, night, and weekend shifts. Many agricultural workers are seasonal workers and may be unemployed during part of the year.

Agricultural Worker Trends

Here are three trends influencing how agricultural workers work. Agricultural workers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Use of Robots in Agriculture

The use of robots in agriculture is a trend that is quickly gaining popularity as farmers look for ways to improve efficiency and reduce costs.

As robots become more common in agriculture, agricultural workers will need to learn how to work with them and understand their capabilities. This will allow them to utilize robots to their fullest potential and ensure that they are being used effectively.

A Growing Demand for Organic Products

Organic products are becoming increasingly popular among consumers, who are looking for healthier alternatives to traditional foods. This trend is likely to continue as people become more aware of the dangers of pesticides and other chemicals used in farming.

Agricultural workers can capitalize on this trend by becoming certified organic farmers. This will allow them to produce high-quality products that meet the demands of today’s consumers. In addition, they can also market their products as environmentally friendly and sustainable.

More Diversity in Farming Practices

There is an increasing demand for diversity in farming practices as more and more people are interested in locally sourced food. This has led to an increase in the number of small farms that are producing unique products.

Agricultural workers can take advantage of this trend by becoming experts in a specific type of farming. This will allow them to provide customers with the products that they are looking for, while also helping to support local businesses.

How to Become an Agricultural Worker

Agricultural workers have a variety of career paths they can take. They can move up the ranks to become supervisors, managers, or even owners of their own farms. They can also specialize in a particular area of agriculture, such as livestock or crops.

Agricultural workers should be prepared for a physically demanding job that requires long hours outdoors in all weather conditions. They should also be willing to learn new skills and techniques as technology changes in the industry.

Advancement Prospects

Agricultural workers may advance to farmworker supervisor positions. In these positions, they oversee and coordinate the activities of other agricultural workers. They may also advance to agricultural inspector positions, where they inspect crops and livestock to ensure that they meet quality standards. Some agricultural workers may eventually open their own farms.

Agricultural Worker Job Description Example

Agricultural workers are responsible for a variety of tasks on farms and in greenhouses. They may work with crops, livestock, or both. Duties may include planting, harvesting, grading, packing, and loading agricultural products. Agricultural workers typically work outdoors and may be exposed to extreme weather conditions. They may work long hours, and their work is often physically demanding. Some agricultural workers may operate machinery.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Operate and maintain farm equipment and machinery
  • Plant, fertilize, cultivate, and harvest crops
  • Care for livestock
  • Perform general maintenance and repair work on farm buildings and fences
  • Inspect farms and equipment for safety and compliance with regulations
  • Keep records of activities such as planting, fertilizing, spraying, and harvesting
  • May drive a tractor-trailer combination to transport farm products
  • May pack and load agricultural products for shipment
  • May operate a combine harvester
  • May set up and maintain irrigation systems
  • May supervise other workers
  • May purchase supplies and equipment

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Ability to lift 50+ pounds
  • Proven experience working long hours outdoors in all weather conditions
  • Experience operating farm equipment
  • Basic math skills for measuring and calculating purposes
  • Valid driver’s license

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Associate’s degree or higher in agriculture, horticulture, or related field
  • Bilingual ability
  • Experience with organic farming practices
  • First-aid certification


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