How to become a Shearer

Shearers harvest wool from sheep using power-driven handpieces that are fitted with combs and cutters.

Personal requirements of a Shearer

  • Able to work as part of a team
  • Able to work quickly and consistently with hands for long periods
  • Good hand–eye coordination
  • Willing to live in remote areas
  • Able to handle sheep with confidence
  • Able to cope with the physical demands of the job

Education & Training for a Shearer

You can work as a shearer without formal qualifications. You will probably get some informal training on the job. However, entry to this occupation may be improved if you have qualifications. You may like to consider a VET qualification in shearing. As subjects and prerequisites can vary between institutions, you should contact your chosen institution for further information. You can also become a shearer through a traineeship in Shearing. Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require Year 10. For more details, see Section 2. Ask your career adviser about the possibility of starting some of this training in school.

Duties & Tasks of a Shearer

Shearers may perform the following tasks:

  • take sheep from catching pens and hold firmly while shearing fleece in one piece
  • select shearing combs to suit the type of sheep and wool
  • ensure the wool is harvested with the least possible stress on the sheep and in accordance with strict animal welfare guidelines
  • return shorn sheep to let-out pens for counting and checking
  • shear stud animals with hand shears or special combs
  • clean and sharpen combs and cutters
  • identify sheep with specific characteristics, such as black spots, as requested by the wool classer.

Working conditions for a Shearer

Expedition shearers work in a team and may be responsible to an overseer or shearing contractor. These shearers travel long distances from property to property to work. Others may work within their own district and travel daily to the shearing shed, returning to their own homes each day. Accommodation is usually provided in shearers' quarters either on the property or in a nearby town. Shearers supply their own work clothes, combs and cutters.

Employment Opportunities for a Shearer

Shearers can be self-employed or work in shearing teams on properties usually located in country areas. They are paid according to the number of sheep they shear and crutch. Shearers can develop their skills to improve earnings and may progress to shed management, wool classing or other areas of the wool industry. Employment is not as seasonal as it once was. Work is usually available throughout the year in most states, with peak demand being in spring and autumn.

Additional Information
Additional coaching is available in most states to help shearers achieve higher tallies and improve their earning ability.
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