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Dairy Producer

Dairy producers run dairy farms and ensure the health of their livestock. They produce raw milk that is processed to become table milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, and other products.

Also Known As

Farmer, Milk Producer

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Farmers and Farm Managers (8251) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Farmers and Farm Managers (I011) 
  • 2011 NOC: Managers in agriculture (0821) 
  • 2016 NOC: Managers in agriculture (0821) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Farmers and Farm Managers
2006 NOC : 8251

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

DIRECTIVE

Interest in supervising and hiring farm workers; and in determining amounts and kinds of crops to be grown and livestock to be raised, and in purchasing farm machinery, livestock, seed, feed and other supplies

METHODICAL

Interest in co-ordinating information to plant, cultivate and harvest crops; and in raising and breeding livestock and poultry

OBJECTIVE

Interest in driving - operating and maintaining farm machinery, equipment and buildings

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Duties
Updated Dec 31, 2018

Dairy producers own and operate dairies. Owners of small- or medium-sized dairies do most of the work themselves. Owners of large dairy farms may hire supervisors and herdspersons.

In general, their duties include:

  • Milking, feeding, cleaning, and caring for cows
  • Ensuring sanitary conditions in the handling, collection and storage of milk, including cleaning barns and milking equipment after each milking session and cleaning milk storage tanks
  • Breeding cows and raising calves
  • Keeping records for the proAction food safety program, which requires annual audits
  • Hiring and supervising staff
  • Using software to keep records of production, breeding, and finances
  • Producing, harvesting, and storing feed crops (unless they buy feed)

The dairy industry runs under a supply-management system. That means all dairy producers must obtain a quota from Alberta Milk before they can ship milk to processing plants. Once they obtain a quota, they must produce the specified amounts at all times.

Working Conditions
Updated Dec 31, 2018
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg

Dairy producers work indoors in barns and dairy offices. They also work outdoors in all kinds of weather. Modern barns are well ventilated. Manure is flushed out regularly.

Working hours are long and can vary. Dairy producers must stick to a strict daily schedule, but they may also work split shifts, depending on the time of year. They milk and feed cows 2 or 3 times a day, 365 days a year.

Technology and automation have made this work less tedious and physically demanding than it once was. But the work still requires daily management and repetitive manual labour.

Dairy producers must follow safety precautions to avoid injury when working with machinery. They must also wear protective clothing.

Traits & Skills
Updated Dec 31, 2018

Dairy producers need:

  • A responsible, caring attitude in handling equipment and animals
  • Patience and self-discipline
  • Organizational and business-management skills. The ability to work alone and with a team
  • Adaptability
  • Physical strength and stamina
  • Co-ordination and manual dexterity

They should have few or no allergies to grains, feeds, animals, or dust. They should enjoy:

  • Working with animals
  • Taking a methodical approach to their work
  • Operating machinery and equipment

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Managers in agriculture
NOC code: 0821

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 11 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Nov 04, 2021 and May 08, 2022.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Maintain farm machinery, equipment and buildings
Perform general farm duties
Personal Suitability: Organized
Personal Suitability: Flexibility
Personal Suitability: Initiative
Equipment and Machinery Experience: Tractor
Personal Suitability: Judgement
Equipment and Machinery Experience: Truck
Monitoring animal health
Personal Suitability: Effective interpersonal skills
Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 31, 2018
  • Minimum Education Varies

Dairy production is a specialized business. Many dairy producers have post-secondary education and additional training related to:

  • Animal welfare
  • Herd health
  • Breeding
  • Growing feeds and ration formulation
  • Related technologies
  • Business management

The Government of Alberta offers the Green Certificate Program. The program provides apprenticeship-style training. It combines hands-on farm mentorship with formal education.

The program is free and available to students at all Alberta high schools. Various specializations, such as dairy production, are offered at each level. Graduates of the Level I Green Certificate Program are certified as farm production technicians. They may earn credits toward their high school diploma for each specialization they complete. Level II (farm production supervisor) and III (agribusiness manager) Green Certificates are also available. They are meant for people interested in a career in agriculture.

To participate in the Green Certificate Program, trainees must be at least 15 years of age and in grade 10, 11, or 12. The training takes about a year. That allows trainees to experience all 4 seasons on a farm.

For more information on registration requirements and other details, students may visit the Green Certificate Program website or ask their guidance counsellor.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Dec 31, 2018
  • Certification Not Regulated

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 31, 2018

It is expensive to set up a dairy operation. Initial costs include land, buildings, meeting production quota, equipment, and cows. Ongoing costs include feed, veterinarian fees, breeding expenses, and labour. There are also operating costs, such as facility upkeep, utilities, and fuel. Programs may be available to help with some of these costs. Alberta Milk’s New Entrants Assistance Program is one example.

There are various jobs at large dairy operations. Examples are general farm workers, dairy workers, milkers, calf raisers, dairy herd operators, herdspersons, assistant herdspersons, and dairy managers. With courses, on-the-job training, and experience, general workers on dairy farms can advance to positions with more responsibility.

Those who have university degrees and dairy farm experience may move into positions with government, inspection agencies, industry organizations, or private businesses, like feed companies or equipment companies.

Dairy producers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 0821: Managers in agriculture. In Alberta, 97% of people employed in this classification work in the Agricultural [pdf] industry.

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the Agriculture industry
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 31, 2018

Dairy production ensures the dairy producer a regular monthly income. However, total incomes vary from one dairy operation to another depending on the size of the herd, its production capacity, and the size of the operation’s debt load (loans and major expenses). Dairy farm income often is supplemented by sales of surplus animals, purebred stock, and crop products such as grain and forage.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Managers in agriculture

2016 NOC : 0821
Average Wage
$31.36
Per Hour
Average Salary
$70,992.00
Per Year
Average Hours
45.2
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2019 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 0821 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $50.00 $25.98 $23.00
Overall $19.04 $57.69 $31.36 $28.85
Top $20.81 $61.20 $34.45 $31.67

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information
Public Administration
ALL INDUSTRIES
Agriculture

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

17%
17%)

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

73%
73%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

0%
0%

Vacancy Rate

N/A
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Agriculture and Related Technologies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 31, 2018

Government of Alberta website, Agriculture and Forestry: www.agric.gov.ab.ca

Alberta Milk website: albertamilk.com

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Dec 31, 2018. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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