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Farm Worker or Technician

Farm workers or technicians prepare land for cropping, plant and harvest crops, and help care for livestock and poultry. They operate and maintain farm equipment. They maintain and repair farm buildings.

  • Avg. Salary $40,984.00
  • Avg. Wage $20.02
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed 13,100
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Agricultural Technician, Animal Care Technician, Farm Equipment Operator, 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: General Farm Workers (8431) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: General Farm Workers (I021) 
  • 2011 NOC: General farm workers (8431) 
  • 2016 NOC: General farm workers (8431) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

59%
59%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Interest Codes
The Farm Worker or Technician is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
General Farm Workers
METHODICAL

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

OBJECTIVE

Interest in driving - operating and maintaining farm machinery and equipment

innovative

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

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

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2019

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

  • Cultivate fields to prepare for crops
  • Plant and fertilize crops
  • Control weeds and pests
  • Irrigate and harvest grain, forage, specialty crops or landscaping products like sod or, trees
  • Repair farm buildings and fences
  • Handle, feed and care for livestock and poultry
  • Milk cows
  • Gather and process eggs
  • Promote and maintain animal health (for example, keep enclosures clean, check for signs of disease or injury)
  • Carry out basic health care routines for sick animals
  • Drive trucks, tractors, and other farm equipment
  • Operate and maintain equipment
  • Deliver produce to markets

Ranch workers may also:

  • Patrol grazing lands, usually on horseback or in all-terrain vehicles
  • Transport animals
  • Check on water supplies and fencing
  • Protect herds from predators, sometimes using trained dogs
  • Attend animals during birthing and assist with difficult births
  • Process cattle (for example, immunize, brand, and castrate them)
  • Shear sheep

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

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2019

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.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Farm workers need:

  • A responsible, caring attitude toward equipment, produce, and animals
  • A willingness to learn
  • Fitness and stamina
  • Co-ordination 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, animals, 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
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019

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. Level II (farm production supervisor) and III (agribusiness manager) Green Certificates are also available. They are meant for people interested in advancing their careers in agriculture.

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.


Related Education

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

Grande Prairie Regional College

Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

Robertson College - Calgary

Robertson College - Edmonton

Thompson Rivers University

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

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019

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

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2019

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.

In Alberta, 92% of people employed as farm workers/technicians 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

Over 15,700 Albertans are employed in the General farm workers occupational group. This group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.0% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 157 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As farm workers or technicians form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for farmworkers or technicians.

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

In Alberta, the I021: General Farm Workers occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1% from 2016 to 2020. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 157 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2019

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 considerably. 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.

Farm workers or technicians are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 8431: General farm workers.

General farm workers

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
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $22.00 $17.17 $16.00
Overall $15.70 $27.00 $20.02 $20.00
Top $17.00 $37.00 $24.33 $24.00

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.

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.


Industry Information
Public Administration
ALL INDUSTRIES
Agriculture

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

59%
59%)

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

63%
63%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

9%
9%

Vacancy Rate

3%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Agriculture and Related Technologies
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2019

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

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

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

Updated Mar 31, 2019. 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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