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Farm Worker or Technician

Farm workers or technicians plant, cultivate and harvest crops, raise livestock and poultry, operate and maintain farm equipment, and maintain and repair farm buildings.

  • Avg. Salary $38,897.00
  • Avg. Wage $19.93
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed 11,600
  • In Demand High
Also Known As

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

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

74%
74%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Farm Worker or Technician is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
General Farm Workers
NOC code: 8431
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 Dec 16, 2016

Farm workers perform tasks such as the following on farms or ranches:

  • plant, fertilize, cultivate, control weeds and pests, irrigate and harvest grain, forage or specialty crops or landscaping products (for example, sod, 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, monitor for signs of disease or injury) and carry out primary health care protocols for sick animals
  • drive trucks, tractors and other powered equipment
  • operate and maintain equipment
  • prepare and transport produce to markets.

In addition to the above duties, ranch workers may:

  • patrol grazing lands, usually on horseback or all-terrain vehicles
  • move and transport animals
  • ensure water supplies and maintain fencing
  • protect herds from predators, possibly with the assistance of trained dogs
  • attend animals during birthing and assist with difficult births
  • process cattle (for example, immunize, brand and castrate) 
  • shear sheep.

Farm machinery operators maintain and operate agricultural equipment (for example, machines that cultivate, fertilize and seed land, and spray and harvest crops).

Working Conditions
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Farm workers may work long hours particularly in the summer months, often outdoors in all kinds of weather. Although automation and mechanization have helped to make the work less tedious and physically demanding, repetitive manual labour often is required. Farm workers may routinely lift items weighing 20 kilograms or more.

Workers in farm businesses are not covered by employment standards, occupational health and safety regulation and standards or Workers Compensation legislation in Alberta.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Farm workers need the following characteristics:

  • good health and stamina (physically fit, not allergic to grains, feeds, animals or dust)
  • good co-ordination and manual dexterity
  • the ability to follow instructions and work independently
  • a genuine interest in agriculture and willingness to learn
  • a responsible, caring attitude when handling equipment, produce and animals.

Farm machinery operators also need the mechanical aptitude required to operate and maintain complex equipment.

All farm workers should enjoy having clear rules and organized methods for their work, operating and maintaining equipment, and monitoring the health of crops, livestock or poultry.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 16, 2016

The education and training requirements for farm workers vary from one employer to another. Some employers will hire job applicants who have limited farming experience and provide comprehensive on-the-job training. Others prefer to hire applicants who already have farm experience. Advancement to supervisory and farm management positions may require related education as well as extensive farm experience.

The Alberta Green Certificate Program offered through the Government of Alberta is an apprenticeship-style training that combines hands-on farm mentorship with formal education.

The Green Certificate is a complimentary program of study available to students of all Alberta high schools. There are various specializations offered (for example, dairy production and field crop production) at each level. Graduates of the Level I Green Certificate Program are certified as farm production technician and may earn up to 16 credits towards their high school diploma for each specialization completed. Levels II (farm production supervisor) and III (agribusiness manager) Green Certificates are also available for those who are interested in advancing their career in the agriculture industry.

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 approximately one year, allowing trainees to experience all of the seasons on a farming operation.

For more information about the program and admission requirements, students may follow the Green Certificate Program link above or contact their school representative to connect with the Green Certificate regional coordinator.

A wide variety of short, specialized in-class or distance education courses related to agriculture are offered by:

Courses range in length from one day to several weeks and provide flexibility for those who choose not to leave their farm operations for long periods of time. Courses may be advertised in brochures, local newspapers 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.

Assiniboine Community College - Brandon

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

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Below-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Farm workers may be permanent or part time employees, or family members of the farm owner. Many jobs are seasonal or casual. A greater need for employed farm staff has been created due to:

  • technological changes
  • decreases in family size
  • increases in the amount of land needed to maintain a viable business
  • the development of value added farm based enterprises
  • other economic factors.

Some people seek positions as general farm workers through direct contact and negotiations with individual farm owners. Others use the services of government offices or private recruitment and placement agencies to find employment.

Experienced farm workers, particularly those who have related education and demonstrated leadership skills, mechanical skills and business skills, may advance to supervisory and farm management positions. Farm supervisors or herdsmen, sometimes called production supervisors, oversee a specific area of a farming operation and 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 in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Agriculture industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • 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.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Wages and benefits usually are individually negotiated between farm employers and the workers, and vary with the type and hours of work. For seasonal and year-round positions, accommodations may be provided on the farm for a nominal rent or as a taxable benefit.

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

General farm workers
NOC code: 8431

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 $10.20 $25.00 $16.81 $16.00
Overall $10.20 $32.97 $19.93 $19.00
Top $10.68 $36.78 $23.90 $23.00

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
Agriculture
ALBERTA, ALL INDUSTRIES
Wholesale Trade

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

74%
74%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

72%
72%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

22%
22%

2015 Vacancy Rate

N/A
Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Science
  • Natural Resources
    • Agriculture
  • Trades, Manufacturing and Transportation
    • Fabrication
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Agriculture and Related Technologies
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 16, 2016

Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development website: www.agric.gov.ab.ca

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

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Feb 01, 2011. 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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