What’s it all about then?
As a general farm worker you’ll carry out practical work on livestock, arable or mixed farms
The type of work varies seasonally and involves tasks which could include looking after livestock, milking, and planting tending and harvesting crops
As well as farming related work you’ll also help with the maintenance and upkeep of the farm equipment and buildings
What might I be doing?
The exact work you’ll be doing will vary from season to season and depend on what sort of farm you’re working but a wide range of tasks need to be carried out including:
- Planting, tending and harvesting crops using a variety of equipment such as tractors and combine harvesters
- Rearing and tending livestock which includes feeding, mucking out, caring for sick or newborn animals and using milking machines for dairy work
- Preparing animals for transport
- Maintaining hedges and woodland
- Maintaining vehicles and machinery
- Cleaning and repairing buildings
- Spreading fertiliser
- Putting up and maintaining fences
What will be expected of me?
You’ll be someone who isn’t afraid of physical, outdoor work in all sorts of weather and at all sorts of hours
You’ll be someone who has a genuine interest in farming and learning more about the business; and also able to take instruction from your supervisor or manager
You should be able to calculate out weights and measures to a high degree of accuracy and also work safely at all times, particularly around farm equipment and animals
What can I expect?
At certain times of the year you can expect to work extremely long days to make sure that work is always completed satisfactorily – overtime is payable generally
You’ll have to work flexible hours including weekends so you can expect to live close to, or even on, the farm on which you work
A lot of the work is dirty so you will need to wear suitable protective clothing
Don’t let this worry you though because working on a farm can be extremely rewarding and fulfilling, particular if you like all things connected with nature
What about the pay?
This will depend on where you work, what type of farm you work on, and your level of experience when you commence your employment
You might work on the farm on either a flexible or part time basis and be paid in accordance with how many hours you work per week
In the various UK nations Agricultural Wages Boards set minimum wage levels but you might expect the following levels:
You might expect to earn anywhere between £12k and £18k per annum rising to more than £23k as you increase your skills and experience and take on more responsibilities
You may also be provided with accommodation which is either free or very cheap.
Please remember that these figures are for your guidance only and are likely to vary widely throughout the country. Always check for up to date pay rates
What qualifications do I need to get in?
There aren’t any set entry requirements in terms of qualifications but many employers will need you to have at least some experience, as well as an interest in farming and all things agricultural
You will need to be physically fit and a driving license is also useful to have
You could consider a Level 3 Apprenticeship or Diploma in Agriculture after you leave school. This will provide you with a sound grounding in your job as well as a qualification.
After these you could continue your studies with the FdSc in Agriculture and Technology
You could also take short courses such as operating a particular piece of agricultural equipment, tractor driving or fork lift operation. If your job involves tasks such as operating chainsaws and using pesticides, you will need to have relevant certificates of competence as a legal requirement
As well as this there are numerous specialised courses available which will help you do your job more effectively; machine and other suppliers often offer training as well
Where would I get these qualifications?
Many areas have agricultural colleges within a suitable travelling distance and you should check out their prospectuses in the first instance.
Further education colleges also offer courses which could prove useful for you if you’re going to pursue a career in farming.
What about further training?
If training and qualifications appeal to you then look for suitable degrees that you can take at your local universities. You will find that many courses are available on a part time or even distance learning basis and you can fit them around your work schedule
You may also be able to work and train abroad.
Anything else I might need to know?
Yes, you should remember that skilled workers are much more likely to find work than those without skills; the more qualifications and experience you can gain the better your career prospects will be.
As you gain qualifications and experience you could start looking for promotions to farm management or equivalent – this will likely require you to travel to get the job that suits.
If you work on a large farm you may get the opportunity to specialise and this could be another shrewd career move as you become an expert in one particular area of the job