How to become a Shearer

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

Personal requirements for 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. 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 traineeshipg. Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require Year 10.

Duties & Tasks of a Shearer


  • 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.


  • Treating skin cuts
  • Selecting and preparing shearing equipment
  • Catching and positioning animals for shearing
  • Returning shorn animals to let-out pens for counting and checking
  • Identifying contaminated fibre and injured, infected and diseased animals
  • May service, maintain and repair shearing equipment
  • Shearing and removing wool and hair from animals
  • May shear stud animals with hand shears or special combs

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.



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

  • Average age
    Average age
    39 years
  • Future Growth
    Future Growth
  • Gender Share
    Gender Share
    3% female
  • Average full-time
    Average full-time
    43 hours
  • Weekly Pay
    Weekly Pay
  • Skill level rating
    Skill level rating
    Medium skill
  • Unemployment
    Higher Unemployment
  • Full-Time Share
    Full-Time Share
    64% Full-Time
  • Employment Size
    Employment Size
    5,000 workers
  • Employment Size
    Employment by state
    ACT: 0.1%
    NSW: 41.6%
    NT: 0.0%
    QLD: 2.2%
    SA: 14.4%
    TAS: 5.0%
    VIC: 19.9%
    WA: 16.7%
  • Employment Size
    Age brackets
    15-19: 3.8%
    20-24: 13.1%
    25-34: 27.1%
    35-44: 18.4%
    45-54: 22.7%
    55-59: 8.9%
    60-64: 3.8%
    65 and Over: 2.3%
  • Employment Size
    Education level
    Advanced Diploma/Diploma: 1.7%
    Bachelor degree: 0.9%
    Below Year 10: 0%
    Certificate III/IV: 31%
    Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 0%
    Year 10 and below: 44.3%
    Year 11: 9.7%
    Year 12: 12.4%
    Years 11 & 10: 100%
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