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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.

  • Avg. Salary $70,992.00
  • Avg. Wage $31.36
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed 29,900
  • In Demand Medium
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) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Interest Codes
The Dairy Producer is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Farmers and Farm Managers

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


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


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

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 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 More

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

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.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
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
Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 31, 2018

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.

Medicine Hat College

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Dec 31, 2018

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.

Managers in agriculture

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
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.

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.

Industry Information
Public Administration

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


Vacancy Rate

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:

Alberta Milk website:

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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