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Farm Worker or Technician

Farm workers or technicians prepare land for cropping, plant seeds, and nurture and harvest crops. In doing this, they account for soil, water, and air biodiversity and help attend and care for livestock and poultry. They also operate and maintain farm equipment, and maintain and repair farm buildings.

Also Known As

Agricultural Technician, Farm Equipment Operator, Livestock Care Technician, Ranch Worker

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

  • 8431: General Farm Workers

2006 NOC-S

  • I021: General Farm Workers

2011 NOC

  • 8431: General farm workers

2016 NOC

  • 8431: General farm workers
Updated Mar 22, 2023

Farm workers work on farms or ranches. Their work varies depending on the farm. In general, they:

  • Monitor and assess soil, plant, water, and other biological processes that affect and contribute to the growing of crops
  • Plant and fertilize crops
  • Control weeds and pests
  • Irrigate and harvest grain, forage, specialty crops, or landscaping products like sod or trees
  • Maintain and repair farm buildings, facilities, and fences
  • Handle feed, water, and husbandry for livestock and poultry
  • Milk cows
  • Gather and process eggs
  • Promote and maintain livestock health programs and traceability requirements (by keeping enclosures clean and checking for signs of disease or injury)
  • Carry out basic health care routines for sick livestock and overall health
  • Drive trucks, tractors, and other farm equipment
  • Operate and maintain equipment
  • Prepare to ship produce

Ranch workers may also:

  • Patrol grazing lands, usually on horseback or in all-terrain vehicles
  • Transport livestock
  • Check on water supplies and fencing
  • Protect herds from predators, sometimes using trained dogs
  • Attend livestock during birthing and assist with difficult births
  • Process cattle (for example, by immunizing, marking, treating)
  • Shear sheep
  • Follow the national Codes of Practice for the care and handling of farm animals

Farm machinery operators maintain and operate farm equipment. This includes machines that cultivate, fertilize, and seed land, and that spray and harvest crops.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 22, 2023
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg

Farm workers work outdoors in all kinds of weather. They may work long hours, especially in the summer and during busy times such as harvest and calving. Many farm jobs require weekend work. Winter can be particularly tiring for those employed in the livestock industry.

Automation has made farm work less tedious and physically demanding, but workers still need to do repetitive manual labour.

Paid, non-family farm and ranch workers are covered by employment standards, occupational health and safety regulations and standards, and Workers’ Compensation legislation in Alberta.

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.

General Farm Workers

2006 NOC: 8431

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

Interest in comparing information to examine produce for quality and prepare for market, to feed and tend livestock and poultry, and to clean stables, barns, barnyards and pens; and to set and monitor water lines, air flow and temperature in barns, pens and chicken coops


Interest in driving - operating and maintaining farm machinery and equipment


Interest in detecting disease and health problems in crops, livestock and poultry

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


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

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 22, 2023

Farm workers need:

  • A responsible, caring attitude toward equipment, produce, and livestock
  • A willingness to learn
  • The ability to pay attention to detail
  • Fitness and stamina
  • Coordination and manual dexterity
  • The ability to follow instructions
  • The ability to work alone
  • A genuine interest in farming

They should also be free of allergies to grains, feeds, livestock, and dust.

Farm machinery operators also need mechanical aptitude to run and maintain complex equipment.

All farm workers should enjoy:

  • Having clear rules and organized work methods
  • Running and maintaining equipment
  • Checking on the health of crops, livestock, or poultry

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.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

General farm workers

2016 NOC: 8431

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 100 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Feb 17, 2024 and Apr 16, 2024.

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.
Work Setting: Rural area
Construction Specialization: Team player
Handling heavy loads
Work Site Environment: Outdoors
Tasks: Operate and maintain farm machinery and equipment
Construction Specialization: Flexibility
Attention to detail
Construction Specialization: Organized
Tasks: Harvest crops
Tasks: Plant, cultivate and irrigate crops
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 22, 2023
  • Minimum Education Varies

Education and training requirements vary from one employer to another. Some will hire applicants with limited farming experience and give them full on-the-job training. Others prefer those who already have experience. More and more, producers look for applicants who have post-secondary education. Advancing to supervisory and management roles may require related education and extensive experience. Farm workers typically need to have a minimum Class 5 driver’s licence.

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

This program is free and available to students at all Alberta high schools. Various specializations are offered at each level, such as dairy production and field crop production. Graduates of the Level I Green Certificate Program are certified as farm production technicians. They may earn up to 16 credits toward their high school diploma for each specialization they complete.

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

For more information, students may visit the Green Certificate Program website or ask their guidance counsellor.

A wide variety of in-class and distance education courses related to agriculture are also offered by:

Courses range from 1 day to several weeks in length. This provides flexibility for those who choose not to leave their farms for long stretches. Courses may be advertised in brochures, local media, and agricultural magazines.

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 Mar 22, 2023
  • Certification Not Regulated

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

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 22, 2023

Farm workers may be permanent or part-time employees. They are often family members of the farm owner. Many jobs are seasonal or casual. The demand for farm staff has increased due to:

  • Changes in technology
  • Smaller family sizes
  • Increases in the amount of land or livestock needed for a viable business
  • The development of value-added, farm-based enterprises, such as milling wheat into flour and growing organic products
  • Other economic factors

Some people look for general farm worker jobs by contacting farm owners directly. Others use government offices or private agencies.

Experienced farm workers may advance to supervisory and management roles. This is even more likely if they have related education and leadership, mechanical, and business skills. Farm supervisors or herdsmen (sometimes called production supervisors) oversee a specific area of a farming operation. They report directly to the farmer or farm business manager.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 8431: General farm workers occupational group, 90.9% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 8431: General farm workers occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of -0.7% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, -99 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2019-2023 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

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

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 22, 2023

Wages and benefits usually are individually negotiated between farm employers and the workers. They vary with the type and hours of work.

Annual incomes in this occupation vary widely. Often, farm workers are contracted to work for a specified period of time.

For seasonal and year-round positions, accommodations may be provided on the farm for a nominal rent or as a taxable benefit.

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.

General farm workers

2016 NOC: 8431
Average Wage
Per Hour
Average Salary
Per Year
Average Hours
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 8431 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.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Hourly Wage

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

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $25.00 $18.07 $18.00
Overall $16.50 $31.25 $22.32 $21.00
Top $18.50 $40.77 $27.45 $26.80

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

Wholesale Trade
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services
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
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 22, 2023

Government of Alberta website, Agriculture and Irrigation:

Alberta Community and Co-operative Association (ACCA) website:

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

Updated Mar 22, 2023. 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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