Career Development

What Does a Farm Worker Do?

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

Farm workers are the people who work in our nation’s fields, forests, and farms. They plant, grow, harvest, and otherwise care for crops and livestock. Their work is vital to the food supply of the United States—without them we wouldn’t have fresh fruits and vegetables or meat raised without antibiotics or hormones.

Farm Worker Job Duties

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

  • Cleaning and maintaining equipment such as tractors, plows, rakes, and harvesters
  • Harvesting crops by hand or with machines such as harvesters or pickers
  • Weeding and cultivating fields to prepare them for planting
  • Planting and tending crops according to best practices for each type of crop
  • Storing harvested crops in silos or barns until they can be sold
  • Spraying insecticides and fungicides to prevent plant diseases or other threats to crops from insects or fungi
  • Preparing fields for planting by tilling or plowing through the use of machinery or manual labor
  • Planting seeds in nurseries for transplantation later in the season
  • Maintaining records of work performed on each farm, including hours worked, types of tasks completed, and materials used

Farm Worker Salary & Outlook

Farm workers’ salaries vary depending on their level of experience, the type of crop or animal they’re working with and the region of the country where they are working.

  • Median Annual Salary: $36,000 ($17.31/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $67,500 ($32.45/hour)

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

Employment growth will be driven by the need to replace workers who leave their jobs or retire. In addition, demand for food produced locally and sustainably will continue to increase, leading to more demand for workers to grow and harvest crops.

Related: Farm Worker Interview Questions and Answers

Farm Worker Job Requirements

Farm workers may be required to have the following qualifications:

Education: Most farm workers have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Some employers prefer to hire farm workers who have completed some college courses. Taking classes in agriculture, biology, chemistry and math can help farm workers learn more about the industry and increase their chances of getting hired.

Training & Experience: Most farm workers learn the skills and knowledge they need for their role while on the job. Training may include how to use tools, how to handle livestock and how to plant and harvest crops. Training may also include how to use pesticides and other chemicals safely.

Certifications & Licenses: Certifications are not often required for farmworker positions. However, some agricultural employers may require certifications for specific equipment or techniques.

Farm Worker Skills

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

Communication skills: Farm workers communicate with supervisors, other workers and customers. They also communicate with suppliers and other people in the industry. Effective communication skills can help you work with others and solve problems.

Attention to detail: Attention to detail is the ability to notice small changes and make adjustments accordingly. Farm workers need to have excellent attention to detail to ensure they’re harvesting the right crops and planting the right seeds. Attention to detail can also help you notice when a plant is diseased or damaged so you can remove it before it spreads.

Physical stamina: Farm work can be physically demanding, so it’s important for farm workers to have a high level of physical stamina. This can help them complete their work efficiently and safely.

Problem-solving skills: Farm workers solve problems every day, from figuring out how to harvest a crop to figuring out how to repair a piece of machinery. Having strong problem-solving skills can help you find solutions to challenges you may face in your job.

Teamwork: Farm workers often work with others in teams to complete their work. Having strong teamwork skills can help you work with others to accomplish tasks and solve problems. Farm workers often work with other farm workers, but they may also work with other employees, such as truck drivers, supervisors and managers.

Farm Worker Work Environment

Farm workers typically work outdoors in all types of weather conditions, including hot sun, rain, and snow. They may work long hours, often more than 40 hours per week, and may have to work early mornings, late evenings, weekends, and holidays. Some farm workers may be required to live on the farm where they work. Farm workers typically work on small farms or in agricultural fields and perform a variety of tasks, such as planting, harvesting, and packing crops; caring for livestock; and maintaining farm equipment. Some farm workers may specialize in one type of crop or livestock, while others may perform a variety of tasks.

Farm Worker Trends

Here are three trends influencing how farm workers work. Farm 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 Need for More Agribusiness Talent

The agriculture industry is in need of more talent, as farms are becoming increasingly complex and require a wider range of skills.

Farm workers can capitalize on this trend by becoming certified in specific areas, such as irrigation or livestock care. They can also pursue education and training that will allow them to work in agribusiness, where they can help farms become more efficient and profitable.

A Growing Focus on Sustainability

As the world becomes more aware of the importance of sustainability, farmers are beginning to focus on practices that will help them produce food in a way that is both environmentally friendly and economically viable.

This shift is creating opportunities for farm workers who are knowledgeable about sustainable farming practices. These workers can help farmers adopt new methods that will protect the environment while still producing enough food to meet demand.

More Diversity Among Farmers

There has been a growing trend towards diversity among farmers in recent years. This is due to a number of factors, including the increasing popularity of organic and locally-grown foods, which have led to a greater demand for products from minority-owned farms.

As a result of this trend, farm workers will need to be prepared to work with a diverse group of people. They will also need to be able to communicate effectively with customers in order to sell their products.

How to Become a Farm Worker

A career as a farm worker can be a great way to get started in the agriculture industry. It’s a physically demanding job that requires hard work, but it can also be rewarding and provide you with a sense of accomplishment.

As a farm worker, you’ll be responsible for performing a variety of tasks, including planting, harvesting, and caring for crops and livestock. You may also be required to perform general maintenance duties on equipment and buildings.

To become a farm worker, you should have a strong work ethic and be able to lift heavy objects. You should also be comfortable working outdoors in all weather conditions.

Advancement Prospects

Farm workers may advance to positions such as supervisor, farm manager, or ranch foreman. With experience, some farm workers become agricultural inspectors for the government. Others may open their own farms.

Some farm workers may wish to obtain a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science or a related field to qualify for positions in agricultural extension, agribusiness, or farm management. A few farm workers with advanced degrees become agricultural economists or research scientists.

Farm Worker Job Description Example

We are a small, family-owned farm in the heart of the Willamette Valley. We grow a variety of crops including grass seed, wheat, and corn. We are looking for a farm worker to help with all aspects of crop production including planting, irrigation, harvest, and equipment maintenance. The ideal candidate will have experience working on a farm, and be comfortable working long hours outdoors in all weather conditions. They will be responsible for operating farm equipment, and must have a valid driver’s license. They will also be responsible for performing general maintenance and repairs on farm equipment as needed.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Operate and maintain farm equipment and machinery
  • Plant, fertilize, cultivate, and harvest crops
  • Feed, water, and care for livestock
  • Inspect farms, equipment, and animals to detect disease and health problems
  • Record information about crops, livestock, and farm activities
  • Clean stables, barns, pens, and other farm areas
  • Repair fences, gates, and other farm structures
  • Hire and train new farm workers
  • Order supplies and equipment
  • Plan work schedules and tasks
  • Supervise and evaluate the work of farm workers
  • Negotiate contracts with buyers and sellers

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Ability to lift 50+ pounds
  • Valid driver’s license with clean driving record
  • Reliable transportation
  • Strong work ethic and willingness to work long hours, including weekends and holidays
  • Ability to work in all weather conditions

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Previous experience working on a farm
  • Experience operating farm equipment
  • Basic mechanical skills
  • Knowledge of agricultural best practices
  • Bilingual


What Does a Product Copywriter Do?

Back to Career Development

What Does a Spa Attendant Do?