Agribusiness, Horticulture & Fishing
Farmer or Farm Manager
Farmers and farm managers undertake operations to raise livestock and cultivate crops, fruit, vegetables and other agricultural products.
Junior secondary school certificate or equivalent
What does a Farmer or Farm Manager do?
Farmers and farm managers undertake farming operations to raise livestock and cultivate crops, fruit, vegetables and other agricultural products.
As a farmer, you could work on one of three main types of farm - livestock (animals), arable (crops) or mixed (animals and crops). Your work would depend partly on the type of farm, but could include:
- planning how the farm will run over the coming year
- setting budget and production targets
- buying and selling animals or produce
- keeping financial records and records of livestock and/or crops
- recruiting, training and supervising staff
- working with vets to monitor animals for infection and disease
- working with officials on areas like habitat conservation.
On smaller farms, you would be involved in practical farm work, for example managing livestock and pasture maintenance, driving tractors and operating machinery, or harvesting crops.
There may be other responsibilities as the business diversifies such as looking after farm stay accommodation or helping create produce for local markets.
Key skills and interests
To become a farmer or farm manager, you would need:
- an interest in agricultural practices
- business management and budgeting skills
- the ability to organise and motivate staff
- the ability to find and develop new activities to keep the farm profitable
- computer skills
- good communication skills.
Working hours and conditions
Your working hours would vary depending on the time of year, however generally farmers work long hours. At busy times such as harvesting, you are likely to work early mornings, evenings and weekends.
Most farmers are self-employed and farm their own land or a leasehold property rented from a landowner. Farm managers are usually employees who are paid a salary to manage a farm or group of farms.
Farm management combines office work with time spent outside around the farm in all weather conditions. Practical farm work can be physically demanding.
You may work in large or small enterprises, or travel between a number of properties to manage activities. You will also need a drivers’ licence.
How to become an Farmer or Farm Manager?
Entry Level Education
You can work as a farmer or farm manager without formal qualifications, although skills in farm management, crop management and/or animal husbandry are usually vital. You might learn these skills from an experienced farmer or farm manager on a working farm, or formally at an educational institution such as a TAFE, university or an agricultural college. Courses may focus on specific areas of agriculture or all aspects of farm management.
You may like to consider a VET qualification in agriculture, agribusiness or rural operations.
You can also become a farmer or farm manager by gaining a degree in agriculture, agribusiness, animal science, agricultural science or rural science. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent. English and maths would be appropriate subjects to study prior to university.
Job opportunities for agriculture workers have generally been in decline over recent years. However, the demand from Asia for Australian agricultural commodities, including grain and food, is increasing steadily.
Additionally, many farmers are diversifying into value-added products. This may lead to increased demand for farm managers to manage agricultural operations on behalf of local or overseas owners.