Agricultural workers maintain crops and tend to livestock.
What they do
Agricultural workers perform physical labor and operate machinery under the supervision of farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers.
Agricultural workers typically do the following:
- Harvest and inspect crops by hand
- Irrigate farm soil and maintain ditches or pipes and pumps
- Operate and service farm machinery and tools
- Spray fertilizer or pesticide solutions to control insects, fungi, and weeds
- Move shrubs, plants, and trees with wheelbarrows or tractors
- Feed livestock and clean and disinfect their pens, cages, yards, and hutches
- Examine animals to detect symptoms of illnesses or injuries and administer vaccines to protect animals from diseases
- Use brands, tags, or tattoos to mark livestock in order to identify ownership and grade
- Herd livestock to pastures for grazing or to scales, trucks, or other enclosures
Agricultural workers usually perform their duties outdoors in all kinds of weather.
Agricultural workers’ jobs can be difficult. To harvest fruits and vegetables by hand, workers frequently bend and crouch. They also lift and carry crops and tools that may be heavy.
How to become an Agricultural Worker
Agricultural workers typically receive on-the-job training. A high school diploma is not needed for most jobs as an agricultural worker; however, a high school diploma typically is needed for animal breeders.
Most agricultural workers do not need a high school diploma; however, a high school diploma typically is needed for animal breeders. Some jobs as an animal breeder may require obtaining postsecondary education.
Many agricultural workers receive short-term on-the-job training lasting up to a month. Employers instruct them on how to use simple farming tools and more complex machinery while following appropriate safety procedures. Agricultural equipment operators, however, may need more extensive training before being allowed to operate expensive farming equipment.
The median annual wage for agricultural workers was $25,840 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,850, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $38,990.
Overall employment of agricultural workers is projected to grow 1 percent from 2019 to 2029, slower than the average for all occupations.
Despite increased demand for crops and other agricultural products, employment growth is expected to be tempered as agricultural establishments continue to use technologies that increase output per farmworker.
Similar Job Titles
Agriculture Laborer, Apple Sorter, Corn Lab Technician, Distribution Technician, Egg Grader, Egg Worker, Grader, Potato Grader, Potato Sorter, Sorter
Food Preparation Worker; Dishwasher; Janitor and Cleaner; Stock Clerks-Stockroom, Warehouse or Storage Yard; Sewing Machine Operator
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- American Farm Bureau Federation - This organization represents farm and ranch families working together to build a sustainable future of safe and abundant food, fiber and renewable fuel for our nation and the world.
Magazines and Publications
- Food Technology Today
- Annual Review of Food Science and Technology Journal
- Progressive Farmer Magazine
- Farm World Online
- Food Science News
- Food Science Magazine
- ASABE Resource Magazine
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistic www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org