Farm worker

farm labourer agricultural worker agricultural labourer farmer

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would do practical and manual work on a farm. You could look after animals like cows, chickens or pigs or grow and harvest crops.

You’d operate farm machinery and do general repairs.

You could work on any of the three main types of farm:

  • Farms that only have animals – livestock
  • Farms that only have crops – arable
  • Farms that have both – mixed

Your work would vary depending on the type of farm and the time of year.

If you work with livestock you would

  • Feed the animals
  • Clean (muck out) the buildings they are kept in
  • Care for sick or newborn livestock
  • Use milking machines with dairy cows

On an arable farm you would:

  • Plough fields
  • Sow seeds
  • Spread fertiliser
  • Spray crops with pesticides or weedkillers
  • Harvest the crops

There are lots of other general tasks you’d do regardless of what type of farm you work on.

You would:

  • Operate farm machinery and vehicles such as tractors and combine harvesters
  • Maintain and repair farm buildings
  • Lay and trim hedges
  • Dig and clear ditches
  • Put up and mend fences

Your work would be supervised by the farm owner, manager, supervisor or landowner. You might also supervise casual staff and agricultural contractors.

You’d need to develop technical knowledge for using the machinery and have an awareness of health and safety.

Working conditions

Hours

Farming is seasonal and some times of the year are busier than others. You would normally work at least 39 hours per week, and you will be expected to work paid overtime when necessary. Early mornings, evenings and weekend work are all common. There are also opportunities for part-time and casual work.

Environment

Most jobs involve working outdoors in all weather conditions. Farm work can be dirty and dusty and would not suit people who suffer from allergies such as hay fever.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

People behind the job

Meet real people who’ve done this job – hear their stories and the path they took to get there.

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Following instructions
  • Working with your hands
  • Caring for animals
  • Being physically fit

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Qualifications

There are no set qualifications required to become a farm worker,but it helps to have an interest in farming and working outdoors.

You may be able to train through a Modern Apprenticeship. This combines on-the-job and off-the-job training leading to relevant Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs).  

You could do a college course before starting work, for example a National Certificate (NC) in agriculture or relevant SVQ at level 2.

Helpful to have

Experience of working on a farm, for example from a weekend or holiday job, dairy work or crop picking would be useful.

Qualifications that include relevant work experience such as Skills for Work Rural Skills (SCQF level 4) may be of value.

Once in work you can gain relevant qualifications such as a Scottish Vocational Qualification in Agriculture (SVQ 2/3).