How to become a Farmer

Farmers and farm managers undertake farming operations to raise livestock and cultivate crops, fruit, vegetables and other agricultural products. A farmer is a self-employed person who farms their own land or a leasehold property rented from a landowner. A farm manager is an employee who is paid a salary to manage a farm or group of farms. Farmers and farm managers may specialise in enterprises such as cropping or horticulture. Others work with animals such as beef or dairy cattle, sheep, pigs or poultry. Many farmers and farm managers conduct mixed farming operations.

Personal requirements for a Farmer

  • Good at planning
  • Able to analyse and solve problems
  • Good organisational and supervisory skills
  • Good communication skills
  • Responsible approach and attitude
  • Enjoy working outdoors in all kinds of weather
  • Able to work both in a team and with limited social contact
  • Able to handle animals with confidence and patience
  • Mechanical aptitude
  • Aptitude for working with computers
  • Able to work independently

Education & Training for a Farmer

You can work as a farmer or farm manager without formal qualifications, although skills in farm management, crop management and/or animal husbandry are considered essential. You may learn these skills from an experienced farmer or farm manager on a working farm or formally at an educational institution such as a TAFE, university or an agricultural college. Courses may focus on specific areas of agriculture or all aspects of farm management. You may like to consider a VET qualification. As subjects and prerequisites can vary between institutions, you should contact your chosen institution for further information. You can also become a farmer or farm manager through a traineeship. Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require Year 10. Alternatively, you can become a farmer or farm manager by completing a degree in agriculture, agribusiness, animal science, agricultural science or rural science. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, physics and chemistry are normally required. Applicants may also be required to attend an interview and have basic farm skills. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.


Duties & Tasks of a Farmer

Farmers and farm managers:

  • Decide or advise on the kind of crops to be grown, the area to be sown or planted and the livestock to be raised
  • Plan the type of farming activities to be undertaken, estimate operating costs and order supplies such as seed, fertiliser, livestock fodder and farm equipment
  • Recruit and coordinate farm workers and direct them on crop growing and livestock raising
  • Plant, spray, fertilise, harvest and sell crops
  • Handle, load and transport livestock for showing, slaughter or sale
  • Clean and maintain buildings, sheds, pens, equipment and facilities to maintain health standards and high-quality of produce
  • Monitor animal health and seek veterinary advice when necessary
  • Ensure there is adequate food supply, water and protection from the weather for livestock
  • Ensure temperature, ventilation and lighting conditions are comfortable for livestock kept indoors
  • Observe and record produce quality or livestock body weight and condition, adjusting management or feeding programs if required
  • Manage the strategic direction of the business
  • Manage the financial aspects of the business by controlling income and expenses
  • Plan activities to minimise environmental degradation, monitor environmental effects of farming activities and repair existing damage through programs such as tree planting.

Tasks

  • Maintaining and evaluating records of farming activities, monitoring market activity, and planning crop preparation and production to meet contract requirements and market demand.
  • Maintaining crop production by cultivating, de-budding and pruning, and maintaining optimal growing conditions.
  • Managing business capital including budgeting, taxation, debt and loan management.
  • Directing and overseeing general farming activities such as fertilising and pest and weed control.
  • Maintaining farm buildings, fences, equipment and water supply systems.
  • Organising and conducting farming operations, such as collecting, storing, grading and packaging produce, and organising the sale, purchase and despatch of produce.
  • Planning and coordinating the production and marketing of crops, such as grain, cotton, sugar cane, fruit and nuts, vegetables, turf and flowers, from soil preparation to harvest taking into account environmental and market factors.
  • May select, train and supervise staff and contractors.
  • Selecting and planting seeds, seedlings and bulbs, and grafting new varieties to root stocks.

Working conditions for a Farmer

Farmers may work on large or small enterprises, or they may need to travel between a number of properties to manage activities. They spend much of their time working outdoors.


Employment Opportunities for a Farmer

Traditionally, farms in Australia have been owner operated and farmers have been self-employed. Such properties have often been owned by the one family over many decades. As product markets have changed and new technologies have been introduced, many properties have merged into bigger farms, often run by employed farm managers. For all farmers and farm managers, the business of running a farm has become more complex and sophisticated.


Specializations

Production Horticulturist

A production horticulturist is involved in the cultivation and maintenance of such produce as berries, nuts, fruit, vegetables and other crops. These products can be exported as either fresh or dried produce. Production horticulturists are involved in all of the associated production processes.

Permaculturalist

A permaculturalist cultivates plants and crops through the use of sustainable practices and renewable resources to minimise the impact upon local ecosystems while maximising natural productivity.

Farmer

Farmers and farm managers undertake farming operations to raise livestock and cultivate crops, fruit, vegetables and other agricultural products. A farmer is a self-employed person who farms their own land or a leasehold property rented from a landowner. A farm manager is an employee who is paid a salary to manage a farm or group of farms. Farmers and farm managers may specialise in enterprises such as cropping or horticulture. Others work with animals such as beef or dairy cattle, sheep, pigs or poultry. Many farmers and farm managers conduct mixed farming operations.

Permaculturalist

A permaculturalist cultivates plants and crops through the use of sustainable practices and renewable resources to minimise the impact upon local ecosystems while maximising natural productivity.

Production Horticulturist

A production horticulturist is involved in the cultivation and maintenance of such produce as berries, nuts, fruit, vegetables and other crops. These products can be exported as either fresh or dried produce. Production horticulturists are involved in all of the associated production processes.

  • Average age
    Average age
    52 years
  • Future Growth
    Future Growth
    Stable
  • Gender Share
    Gender Share
    25% female
  • Average full-time
    Average full-time
    52 hours
  • Weekly Pay
    Weekly Pay
    $1,788
  • Skill level rating
    Skill level rating
    Very high skill
  • Unemployment
    Unemployment
    Lower unemployment
  • Full-Time Share
    Full-Time Share
    78% Full-Time
  • Employment Size
    Employment Size
    41,100 workers
  • Employment Size
    Employment by state
    ACT: 0.1%
    NSW: 23.1%
    NT: 0.6%
    QLD: 25.7%
    SA: 15.5%
    TAS: 2.3%
    VIC: 20.1%
    WA: 12.5%
  • Employment Size
    Age brackets
    15-19: 0.8%
    20-24: 3%
    25-34: 11.8%
    35-44: 17.8%
    45-54: 23.9%
    55-59: 12.7%
    60-64: 11.3%
    65 and Over: 18.7%
  • Employment Size
    Education level
    Advanced Diploma/Diploma: 9.2%
    Bachelor degree: 9.9%
    Certificate III/IV: 18.5%
    Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 2.4%
    Year 10 and below: 33.2%
    Year 11: 8%
    Year 12: 18.7%
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