Also known as farm assistant, general farm worker or farm technician.
This profile highlights the skills and knowledge associated with the role. However, jobs will have varying responsibilities depending on level of the role and the size or type of the business.
This is a very varied role, where you support the assistant farm manager, manager, or owner with a range of tasks.
You can choose to work on various farms, such as with animals or plants and crops. But, whichever you choose, you’ll support the farm business by working productively, sustainably, and safely at all times.
This role involves working outside and doing many practical hands-on tasks, which means you can develop different skills and build knowledge. It's a solid entry-level role into farming on which you can build your career.
You will be a valuable member of the farm team and will take responsibility for your work as well as support other members of the team.
The role can require periods of working on your own and times when you would need to work in a team.
A more experienced member of the team, such as the farm manager, will help you as you develop your skills and knowledge.
There are opportunities to work in a range of sectors, including:
Arable and horticulture
Arable and horticulture farm businesses produce crops such as fruit, vegetables, or grains for human consumption, animal feed, and fuel.
You'll assist with planting, caring, harvesting, and safely storing crops or grain. You might also support the management of healthy soil and plants, which can help protect the environment.
Livestock farms rear animals such as sheep, pigs, cattle, or poultry for the production of meat, breeding stock, or eggs, in the case of poultry.
You'll support the health and welfare of the animals, which will also help them to breed and give birth or hatch successfully. You may also assist with rearing young animals, often known as youngstock, and selecting animals for sale. Some farms will just have one animal species, whereas others may have several, including less common species, such as goats or alpacas.
In addition to the above, you might also get involved in milking cows, sheep, or goats, usually supervised by an experienced member of the milking team.
Mixed farms manage livestock and crops, so your job might include many different tasks across all areas of the farm.
Farm workers typically report to the assistant farm manager, farm manager, or farm owner. The role provides an excellent opportunity to gain basic experience, essential for anyone wishing to further their career in many aspects of agriculture or horticulture, for example, engineering, management, sales, and agronomy.
Regardless of which sector you work in, you may need your own transport to get to work.
As a farm worker, your responsibilities might include:
- Preparing the ground for sowing crops
- Sowing, maintaining, and harvesting crops following a management programme
- Operating and maintaining a range of farm machinery, such as tractors, combine harvesters, telehandlers, quad bikes, and balers, in a safe and responsible manner
- Supporting high welfare standards on livestock farms
- Feeding, cleaning out, and bedding down livestock
- Maintaining high standards of biosecurity and health and safety
- Maintaining a clean feed and water supply and monitoring intake
- Moving and handling animals in a respectful manner
- Repairing and maintaining farmyard buildings and boundaries, such as fences
- Helping to maintain areas of the farm for environmental benefits
- Completing other general farm duties when required
- Maintaining records
To take on the role of farm worker, you should:
- Act responsibly to achieve high standards
- Be resilient and flexible to the changing requirements of your work and the industry
- Be able to communicate and listen well to others
- Be able to follow instructions for relevant tasks
- Be able to use initiative and know when to seek help
- Enjoy working on different tasks
- Be highly motivated and keen to develop skills and knowledge
You don’t necessarily need a formal qualification to become a farm worker, but you do need to have a keen interest in agriculture and/or horticulture.
You should also be prepared to work outdoors in all types of weather. However, there are also opportunities with indoor farm environments, such as indoor pigs and poultry and glasshouses in horticulture.
Alternatively, you can gain experience by studying at an agricultural college (see below).
You can also gain experience by volunteering on a farm or smallholding.
If you live in a city or urban area, you could volunteer on a local city farm, community garden, or allotment. You can find some of these in your area on the Social Farms and Gardens website.
If working with animals, it’s also helpful to have a basic knowledge of animal diseases and health issues and how to help prevent them.
As a farm worker in an arable or horticultural business, you’ll have the following competencies to successfully produce crops. You will:
- Follow farm protocols for health and safety and biosecurity
- Assist with the careful management of healthy soils to help increase productivity and protect the environment
- Assist with crop production, including sowing, harvesting, and storage
- Support successful crop production to ensure plant health and maximise productivity
- Use farm technology effectively, for example, GPS guidance and mapping, telemetry, and nitrogen sensors
- Effectively operate and maintain machinery, equipment, and vehicles
As a farm worker in a livestock business, you’ll have the following competencies to maintain the welfare and production of livestock. You will:
- Follow farm protocols for health and safety and biosecurity
- Support successful livestock/bird production to ensure successful breeding and lambing/calving/farrowing/hatching
- Follow farm protocols to ensure successful livestock/bird husbandry
- Follow farm protocols for data collection, such as information on weight and parentage
- Follow farm protocols to support good health, welfare, and environmental practice
- Ensure animals/birds receive high-quality feed and water regimes to achieve production targets
- Use farm technology effectively, including machinery, equipment, and vehicles
- Provide and maintain appropriate, clean, and safe housing for livestock/birds
- Maintain records as required
- Follow farm protocols to ensure high-quality milk production when milking the animals if working on a dairy farm
- Support the management of healthy crops and soil if working on a mixed farm
You can find more about the competencies for each of the different sectors in this role and how they map with our Capability Framework by downloading our competency profile document below:
Starting salaries can range from £9 to £13 per hour and may vary depending on experience.
You may also receive training and certification as part of your employment benefits. Once you gain more experience and skills, you can expect your salary to increase.
Full-time, part-time, casual, and seasonal work opportunities are available.
If you choose to progress in your career, other opportunities are available. Over time, once you have gained enough experience and knowledge, you could progress to a supervisor level.
If your career goal is to be a farm manager (either with livestock or with crops), you could choose to return to study a higher qualification, such as a BSC in Agriculture (see qualifications and training below) or join a management training programme.
Farm workers are also known to progress their careers in other trades that support farmers with advice or selling products or services that could benefit the farm business.
Further along in your career, you could also work towards specialising in a particular area of agriculture, such as agronomy, where you would advise farmers on crop production. This requires expert knowledge, so you would need to complete further study, such as a BASIS course.
Courses which can help you on this career path include:
Level 1 Diploma Land-based Studies Agriculture
Level 2 Technical Certificate in Agriculture
Level 3 Advanced Technical Certificate in Agriculture
TIAH Essential Skills
Our online Essential Skills modules can help you develop your skills and knowledge in a range of areas and are a great addition to your CV.