Types of Farm Work
Small farms may only have a few workers, but on mid-sized farms, which is the size you need to be in order to make a living as a farmer, there is typically a three-tiered structural hierarchy, all managed by the owner(s).
- If you’re new to farming, your best bet at being hired is as a seasonal worker. Seasonal workers start at minimum wage and are typically only guaranteed work during the harvest season or other very busy times on the farm. Seasonal work is great for high school and colleges students, as well as those who are looking for part-time work, especially during the summer and fall.
- The middle tier in the farming world is made up of general day laborers. You could be called a number of titles in this position; for example, many farms referred to their general laborers as farmhands. On smaller farms, general laborers will be responsible for dozens of tasks, which change on a daily basis according to animal or crop need. On larger farms, you may have one specific task, such as milking on a dairy farm, sorting plants in a greenhouse, or running a certain piece of equipment on a grain farm.
- The highest-paying farm jobs are in management. While the owner may do all of these tasks on a smaller farm, larger farms hire staff members to deal with human relations, crop and field management, breeding supervision and livestock health, accounting and payroll, and more. You can also be hired in a laborer management position, where you’ll act as the leader of a team of general day laborers.
In the farming world, the best way to be hired in a high-paying management role is to work your way up through the ranks. Most farm owners reward loyalty, and they’ll hire someone who has been working for them for years over someone fresh out of college who seems more qualified with a farm-related degree. Find a farm you like, and start as a seasonal worker, becoming more involved as positions open, and soon you’ll be qualified for top-tier management positions at that farm.