How to become a Farm Worker. Read through our comprehensive job guide to learn more about this career.
What does a Farm Worker do?
As a farm worker, you would be employed by a farmer or landowner to do practical and manual work on their farm. You could work on any of the three main types of farm – livestock (animals), arable (crops), mixed (animals and crops).
Your work will vary depending on the type of farm and the time of year, but can include:
- looking after animals – feeding, mucking out, caring for sick animals, using a milking machine to milk cows
- ploughing fields, sowing, looking after and harvesting crops, spreading fertiliser and spraying crops
- driving and maintaining tractors, combine harvesters and other vehicles
- maintaining farm buildings
- laying and trimming hedges
- digging and maintaining ditches
- putting up and mending fences.
You would usually work around 40 hours a week, including weekends, with longer hours at busy times such as lambing season or harvesting. Early starts are common.
Most jobs involve working outdoors in all weather conditions, and include a lot of bending, lifting and carrying. You would usually need to live on or near the farm.
How much does a Farm Worker earn?
Salary and pay information:
- Farm workers can earn between £16,000 and £19,000 a year.
- Experienced workers can earn around £21,000 a year.
You might be provided with accommodation.
See the DEFRA website for details of minimum pay rates and other terms and conditions of employment.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
You do not need any particular qualifications to be a farm worker. It will be useful if you have some experience of agricultural or horticultural work (either paid or voluntary).
The following courses might be useful, but are not essential:
- BTEC Level 2 Diploma in Agriculture
- BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Agriculture.
You should ask colleges about their entry requirements.
You may be able to get into this job through an Apprenticeship scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. To find out more about Apprenticeships, visit the Apprenticeships website.
Training and Development
If your job involves tasks such as operating chainsaws and using pesticides, you need by law to have certificates of competence. These are awarded by the National Proficiency Tests Council (NPTC), and Lantra Awards.
- National Proficiency Tests Council
- Lantra Awards
You could help your career by doing qualifications such as:
- NPTC National Certificate in Agriculture
- NPTC Advanced National Certificate in Agriculture
- Award/Certificate/Diploma in Work-based Agriculture at levels 1, 2 and 3.
You could also do short courses on subjects such as how to operate different types of agricultural equipment, offered by NPTC and Lantra Awards.
Skills and Knowledge
- the ability to do hard physical work
- practical skills
- awareness of health and safety
- the ability to follow instructions.
Employers include farm owners, commercial organisations, and universities or research institutions.
With qualifications and experience, you may be able to progress to supervisor or unit manager on a large farm. You will usually need to move from farm to farm to gain experience and promotion.