How To Become A Farmer In Australia: A Complete Guide

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Students want to know how they can become farmers in Australia.


Do you enjoy physical work and working outside, involving different challenges? If yes, a career as a Farmer might suit you.


Farmers plan, manage, control, and perform farming operations to cultivate crops. They work independently or in public and private establishments that grow crops, produce dairy products, and raise livestock.


You don't need formal qualifications to work as a Farmer in Australia. However, a VET course in agriculture, animal science, agribusiness, or agricultural science and crop farming experience will help.


Learn who a farmer is, what they do, what personal attributes and qualifications they have, how much they earn, how to get into farming and agriculture, courses, where they work, and the steps to become a farmer in Australia.



1. What Is A Farmer?


Farmers form the backbone of the agriculture industry. Also called agriculturalists, their main aim is to produce crops and generate income from selling their stock.


Farmers cultivate crops, vegetables, fruit, fibres, and other agricultural products. Further, they raise cattle, poultry, shellfish, and fish or produce ornamental plants, dairy and nursery products.


Farmers may specialise in enterprises such as horticulture or cropping. Most are self-employed, managing their farm or working on a contract basis for a corporation or farm.


There are three different types of farmers:


  • Crop farmers

  • Livestock, poultry, and dairy farmers

  • Aquaculture farmers 



2. What Does A Farmer Do In Australia?


Farmers, in general, supervise all stages of the crop production process, including planting, harvesting, herding, and fertilising.


The size or range of the farm majorly determines what tasks farmers handle. Those operating small farms are responsible for all functions, such as land inspection, harvesting, crop cultivation, raising animals, maintaining records, servicing equipment, and maintaining buildings. 


On the other hand, farmers employed on larger farms generally work with a team of agricultural workers performing specific farming tasks.


Some of the most common duties you might find yourself doing are as follows:


  • Determine the type of crops to be grown, the location to plant the seeds, and the livestock to raise

  • Choose and plant seeds, bulbs, seedlings, and graft new varieties. 

  • Plan the kind of farming activities to implement

  • Estimate operating costs 

  • Order supplies such as seed, farm machinery and fences, livestock fodder, and fertiliser

  • Recruit farmworkers and guide them on crop cultivation and livestock raising

  • Maintain crop production by growing, pruning, de-budding, and maintaining ideal cultivating conditions

  • Conduct farming operations, such as storing, gathering, grading, and packaging produce

  • Organise the purchase, sale, and despatch of produce

  • Monitor soil, perform harvest duties and fertilise and spray crops.

  • Manage the business capital by budgeting, debt, taxation, loan management, and controlling income and expenses

  • Handle, load, and move livestock for display, sale, or slaughter 

  • Clean and maintain facilities, sheds, pens, buildings, equipment, and water supply systems.

  • Maintain health standards and superior-quality produce

  • Supervise animal health and seek vet advice when needed

  • Ensure adequate food and water supply and ensure temperature, lighting, and ventilation are comfortable for livestock. 

  • Organise activities to reduce environmental degradation, supervise environmental effects caused due to farming activities and repair any damage through tree planting and other programs



3. What Skills Do You Need To Become A Good Farmer?


Farming is considered a complicated but rewarding career. A person capable of coping with difficulties of logistical, environmental, and financial fluctuations is ideal for this profession.


Here is a detailed list of personality traits and specialised skills you need to succeed in this role:


  • Physical Strength

  • Able to work outdoors in all weather conditions

  • Good planning and analytical skills

  • Methodological and logical problem solver

  • Effective communicator 

  • Critical thinker

  • Good organisational and supervisory skills

  • Responsible 

  • Able to work both independently and in a team

  • Able to handle animals confidently and patiently

  • Technical and Mechanical aptitude

  • Good Interpersonal skills

  • Positive attitude

  • Sound reasoning and judgment abilities

  • Able to take Initiative

  • Able to work long hours

  • Able to embrace change

  • Good decision-making skills

  • Hardworking



4. What Qualifications Do You Need To Be A Farmer?


There are no essential requirements for farming related to education and training. You can work as a farmer without any formal qualifications in Australia. 


However, credentials can help you acquire the essential knowledge and skills much faster and make you a competitive applicant.


It is beneficial to complete a degree or VET course in agriculture, animal science, agribusiness, agricultural science, or rural science at TAFE, agricultural college, or university.


The courses focus on specific areas of agriculture to develop skills in farm management, animal husbandry, or crop management that are essential in this occupation. 


However, to enter these courses, you will need to obtain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education in prerequisite subjects, including English, Physics, Mathematics, and Chemistry.



5. How To Become A Farmer Without Land In Australia?


To be a successful Farmer, you need a combination of practical and technical knowledge in the specific type of farming you want to conduct. Here are the step-by-step instructions to learn how to become a farmer without experience.



Step 1: Decide The Farming Type


The first step to qualifying for this profession is to decide on the type of farming that interests you. After this, identify the skills and specialised knowledge you need to prepare to work in that field.



Step 2: Obtain Education


What education is needed to become a farmer? Formal qualifications are not essential, but a VET course, as a minimum, can be helpful.


Farming courses are a perfect way to learn about the industry and gain technical knowledge and hands-on farm experience in farming with business knowledge.


These courses cover a wide range of areas related to livestock and crops, including:


  • Industry Overview

  • Observe and report the weather

  • General farm operations

  • Cropping methods and techniques

  • Mustering and moving animals 

  • Repair machinery and property 

  • Maintain records

  • Helping with the care and breeding of young animals

  • Identify diseases in livestock and plants 

  • Operating and maintaining equipment and machinery like irrigation systems

  • Environmental sustainability laws, animal welfare laws, and health and safety regulations


Some of the recommended course options to consider are:


  • The Certificate II in Agriculture (12 months): Australian Agricultural Training, TAFE QLD, TAFE NSW, SW TAFE, TAFE SA, South Regional TAFE, Central Regional TAFE


  • The Certificate III in Agriculture (1-year on campus or two years traineeship): Federation University, TAFE QLD, SW TAFE, TAFE SA, Jobs & Skills WA


  • The Certificate IV in Agriculture (12 months): TAFE NSW, Training, Melbourne Polytechnic, Federation University, My Skills


  • Diploma in Agriculture (18 months): Melbourne Polytechnic, Training, Jobs & Skills WA, TAFE QLD, My Skills



If you want to devote three years of full-time study before entering the job market, consider the following degrees:


  • Bachelor of Agriculture at CQ University (3 years Online), the University of Melbourne (3 or 6 years On campus)        

  • Bachelor of Science (Animal Science) – USQ (3 years Online, Off-Campus) or Charles Sturt University (4 years On campus)

  • Bachelor of Science (Plant Agricultural Science) - USQ (3 years, Online, On-Campus)


As many of these courses are delivered online, people can access them remotely and complete them at their pace and convenience.



Step 3: Gain Hands-On Work Experience


The range and scope of work on a farm are mixed and overwhelming. To become a farmer, you must get to a farm and build a real-life experience.


The amount of experience you need varies with the farm size and complexity of the work. Those with a Master's qualification in agriculture may not need past work experience to enter this profession, as universities usually offer prospective farmers opportunities to work on a farm.


Do you want to know how to become a farmer with no money? Suppose you need more money for education. In that case, you can start as a Farmhand and focus your efforts on cleaning, livestock tending, machinery operations, and planting and harvesting crops. 


Alternatively, you may also develop basic farm skills working with an experienced farmer/ farm manager on a working farm.


It will help you become skilled and experienced in different areas. As you build experience, you will find what you enjoy working on the most. With this understanding, you can combine your passion and skills for a successful business.



Step 4: Start Working and Stay Updated


You are ready to work as a farmer with the correct qualification and adequate work experience


Besides excelling in the job, a good farmer continuously keeps himself updated on the market trends and changes in farming practices, regulations, developments, and products.



National Resources for Farmers:




6. Working Conditions For A Farmer


Farmers majorly work on crop farms from sunrise to sunset during the planting and harvesting periods of the year. Farm work can be seasonal, so the number of hours may fluctuate based on the season. 


Full-time farmers usually work for around 52 hours per week. Corporate or Independent farmers may work shifts based on the farm's needs.


When not working on the farm, they work in offices to research and plan the crops for the following season. Further, they maintain records, order goods, arrange logistics, advertise their products, and repair and maintain equipment.


Farming is a physically demanding job requiring farmers to perform strenuous and repetitive tasks, including lifting heavy objects, bending, stretching, operating heavy and complex machinery, climbing ladders, etc.


Farmers may require working in extreme temperatures, including cold, stormy, and rainy days. They need to keep them adequately hydrated. Working under the heat of the sun can lead to dehydration. Daily encounters with insects, spiders, and even snakes while working are common.


Farmers wear long sleeves t-shirts and hand gloves to protect their skin from thorns and harsh sunlight that otherwise could lead to torn skin, life-long scars, and sore arms. Hard hats and goggles are also essential gears that enable them to work comfortably in bright sunlight.


The work environment for farmers can be hazardous as tools, tractors, and other farm machinery can cause acute injury. They must operate equipment safely and handle chemicals properly to prevent accidents and safeguard the environment.


When employed on large farms, farmers spend time meeting with farm supervisors. They may require travelling between different properties to manage activities. 



7. Where Do Farmers Work?


Farmers primarily work outdoors in a variety of settings that includes:


  • Large-scale corporate farms

  • Smallholdings

  • Cattle or sheep stations

  • Orchards

  • Fisheries

  • Nurseries 


The farmer's work could be more stable. Farmers are only in need during crop cultivation and harvesting season or when the animals have requirements, such as breeding or preparing them for sale in the market. 



8. Employment Opportunities For Farmers


Agriculture is a large and diverse industry in Australia. Farmers farm cattle, sheep, wheat, sugar cane, and barley.


The farming industry offers seasonal work/ short-term opportunities for farmers in regional Australia. Farmers work with vegetables, crops, and livestock in the public and private sectors.


The following are the most common areas of employment for farmers to create efficient and safe animal production systems throughout the globe.



  • Agribusiness support sectors such as marketing, banking, trading, and logistics

  • Consulting and research in cropping

  • Cropping

  • Agronomy

  • Government policy development

  • Industry analysis

  • Horticulture

  • Land care

  • Food production industries

  • Sustainability and livestock management

  • Livestock

  • Production enterprise



Private agricultural consultancies, research and development institutions, government agencies, and non-government organisations recruit farmers for the following jobs:


  • Assistant Farm 

  • Station Hand

  • Farm or station worker

  • Livestock transport driver

  • Agribusiness Consultant

  • Assistant Animal Attendant

  • Research Advisor/Extension

  • Technical Advisor

  • Research Scientist

  • Stockperson

  • Farm Business Manager



9. Career Progression For Farmers


Most farmers join the agriculture industry as trainees and assistants. 


While working as agricultural workers for many years, they develop the necessary knowledge and experience to operate their farm or progress to management roles like Farm Manager positions.



10. Areas of Specialisations For Farmers


The agriculture industry offers varied career specialisations to farmers that they can pursue based on their skills, interests, and career objectives.



  • Production Horticulturists: They are involved in the production processes of crops such as berries, fruit, vegetables, and nuts exported as fresh or in dried form. Production Horticulturists implement strategies to promote bulk growth of these crops to make more sales.


  • Perm culturalists: They grow crops and plants using renewable resources and sustainable practices to improve natural productivity and lessen the impact on ecosystems.


  • Shearer: Working in physically demanding conditions, they specialise in removing wool from sheep, processing and selling it in the market. The extracted wool is sent to clothing manufacturers.


  • Farmhand: They support graziers and senior farmers in their daily duties. Based on the type of farm they work on, they usually engage in livestock wrangling and crop cultivation.



11. Job Outlook For Farmers In Australia


The agricultural industry in Australia is undergoing an exciting transformation. New technologies are being introduced and implemented to enhance productivity and change old practices across around 200,000 businesses in this field.


Owners of large pieces of land, who don't live on their property, increasingly seek the expertise of farmworkers and agricultural managers to operate their farm businesses. 


Moreover, increasing crop yields and robust demand for dairy and meat products will result in higher crop and livestock production in the coming years.


As per the national Job Outlook service, crop farmers have grown enormously over the past five years. The number of farmworkers will likely grow at a moderate rate from 44,700 (in 2020) to 45,000 (by 2025).


The employment of farmers is estimated to grow seven per cent from 2016 to 2026. The sector predicts stable future growth with around 3,000 new vacancies over the coming five years.


Job opportunities are available for farmworkers, hobby farmers, and farm managers in organic food production, forestry, hunting, fishing, and aquaculture. 


Developing market niches that involve direct and personalised contact with customers can improve the career prospects of small-scale farmers.


Some areas can exhibit better industry growth rates than others due to changes in market conditions, economics, imports, popularity, and weather conditions. 


Though crop farmers work in several parts of Australia, South Australia and Queensland are the top states with a large share of workers.


Around 78% of workers work full-time, which shows low part-time work opportunities in this profession. The average age of employed farmers is 52 years, with most 45 years or older. Only 25% of workers are female, which is lower than the average of 48%.



12. How Much Does It Cost To Own A Farm In Australia?


In Australia, the cost incurred to own a farm depends on several factors, such as:


  • Size of the farm

  • Location

  • Purpose of using the farm 

  • The type of construction for houses, dams, and sheds


A smaller property close to populated areas could save you around 10,000 dollars per hectare. 


Consult with a reputable real estate agent who has a good knowledge of farming land, is familiar with the local area, and deals in rural properties to get a precise idea. 



13. Things To Consider When Buying A Farm Land


Here are a few tips to guide you on purchasing farmland in Australia:


  • Use a reputable real estate agent.

  • Learn about legal responsibilities and planning restrictions: Pest and weed control, animal welfare, boundary fences, chemical use, and fire preparation 

  • Examine farm infrastructures such as homesteads, fences, tracks, drains, sheds, yards, water supply units (dams, tanks, troughs, pipes), and power supply

  • Understand local council building requirements and restrictions

  • Check the distance from the markets. 

  • Examine the land to assess soil type and watch out for signs of land degradation (erosion, chemical contamination, salinity, pest infestation, and weeds

  • Check farm water (quantity and quality) for domestic, livestock, irrigation, and fire control purposes.

  • Assess natural resources such as wildlife habitats and remnant vegetation

  • Meet the neighbours 

  • Assess any impacts of land use on neighbouring farms to avoid any conflicts



14. What Size Of Land Do You Need For A Lifestyle Farm?


A lifestyle farm can be as small as an acre. It can cater to some livestock, such as cows, sheep, and horses (for entertainment purposes).


However, if you want a hobby farm or to run a farm business, you will need to consider the following to arrive at the right kind and size of land:


  • Expected Production of feed 

  • Your Enterprise goals

  • Prevalent Land prices for lifestyle and small farms 

  • Budget

  • Location



15. How Much Does A Farmer Earn In Australia?


The average yearly farmer salary in Australia is AU$59,758 or AU$24.17 per hour. Their earnings vary from year to year based on the following factors:


  • Farming style

  • Prices of farm products

  • Farmer's experience

  • Geographical location

  • Market demand

  • Types of crops grown or animals grazed 

  • Access to markets

  • Cost of freight

  • Weather conditions (flood, drought, fire, or perfect) 


Besides the earnings from a farm business, farmers also receive government grants and subsidies or other payments that add to their yearly income and lessen some risks associated with farming. 


Moreover, small farm owners depend more on off-farm income sources such as community-supported agriculture programs.


Sustainable Agriculture and Protected Cultivation are two methods of farming that generate higher income. As farmers become more skilled and experienced, they can advance to senior roles and earn higher salaries.


  • Entry-level Farmers (< 1-year experience) earn AU$22.98 

  • Early career Farmers (1 to 4 years of experience) earn AU$23.78 

  • Mid-career Farmers (5 to 9 years of experience) earn AU$24.27 

  • Experienced Farmers (10 to 19 years of experience) earn AU$27.50 



Based on past job vacancies, farmers draw higher salaries in the following cities:


  • Warrnambool VIC: $61,941 per year

  • Sydney NSW: $60,770 per year

  • Tatura VIC: $60,393 per year

  • Cooriemungle VIC: $57,879 per year

  • Nambrok VIC: $57,391 per year

  • Yalca VIC: $56,545 per year

  • Mepunga East VIC: $56,494 per year

  • Maffra VIC: $55,693 per year



16. Conclusion


Farmers are the key drivers of Australia's agriculture industry. Working in this satisfying role is not only supporting you financially, but it also aligns you in harmony with nature.


Are you interested in becoming a farmer and finding yourself fit for this role? Entry-level courses in agriculture are the starting point for many career and study paths in the evolving agribusiness sector.


Useful Links to Explore:

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