How to Become a Farmer and Start a Career in Agriculture

by Emily Gorsky
Posted: March 23, 2017

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A life on the farm is varied and sometimes surprising. It is empowering to be self-sufficient, to create a system that not only supports you financially but is in harmony with the environment. 

Being a farmer is a lifestyle as much as it is a job, and it can be one of the most satisfying career choices for both men and women. Australia is a land built on farms — in fact, farming is the driving force behind Australia’s agriculture industry. 

As a farmer, you are responsible for the work carried out on a farm, but as you’ll find out, there’s much more to it than ploughing fields and milking cows. Read on to learn about how to become a farmer and the rewards of a life on the farm.

1.    Decide what type of farming you want to get into

Farmer silhouette on how to become a farmer

Want to minimise your environmental impact, create a healthy balance between nature and farming, and throw yourself into the thriving organic farming industry?

Maybe you want to work on a dairy farm or perhaps you’re more interested in pastoral farming? There are different types of farms, some are more specialised and require different skills and duties. 

You can also work on a mixed farm which requires both livestock rearing and crop farming. As you grow your experience, you will learn what you enjoy and what works best for business. Farm work in general is quite varied, so it certainly helps to be skilled in many different areas. 

We should farm closer to nature’s design.” Colin Seis, Creator of Pasture Cropping.

2.    Understand the responsibilities and demands

If you want to become a farmer, you will need to acquire the practical, technical and theoretical knowledge of farm work. Farming involves plenty of manual labour; when you first begin as a farm labourer you will be focusing your efforts on cleaning, machinery operations, livestock tending, and planting and harvesting crops.

You will always be performing some sort of manual labour, therefore physical strength and good overall health are essential. Working hours are dictated by the seasons, during harvesting periods you may be working up to 18 hours a day. 

Farmers work outdoors all year round, so you must be prepared for all weather conditions from rain and wind to the searing sun. If you don’t mind (and perhaps enjoy) getting up at the crack of dawn to get right down to work you will fit right into the farmer way of life.

Did you know? Australian farmers supply roughly 93% of Australia’s food.

3.    Plant the seed to grow your career

Young girl with laptop standing on a farm to begin a career in agriculture

Whether you have some experience or none at all, the scope and range of work on a farm can be overwhelming. There is plenty to learn if you want to become a farmer! Most farmers begin their careers as assistants or trainees before progressing into farm manager positions.

Taking farming courses is an excellent way to get up to speed and learn everything there is to know about farm work, from how to perform specific tasks to the business side of things.

A Certificate II in Agriculture will give you the fundamental skills for working on a farm. It’s perfect for those who need an introduction to the industry and haven’t found their feet yet. If you do not have any hands-on farm experience, you will get it when you undertake the work placement which is essential to completing the course. This course will prepare you for work on a farm, teach you about farm safety and how to perform maintenance, and provide you with the skills to look after livestock as well as how to grow and harvest crops.

The Certificate III in Agriculture offers broad skills and the ability to specialise in livestock, crops or both. You will learn how to observe and report weather, repair property and machinery, keep records, identify unusual diseases in plants and livestock and operate irrigation systems—just to name a few. A course like this can be beneficial if you have knowledge gaps or wish to qualify your skills. 

As you gain experience, you will begin to look after the business and administrative side of running a farm, such as monitoring budgets, maintaining financial records, dealing with clients or suppliers and devising strategies for breeding or harvesting. 

Most importantly, you will ensure the farm complies with animal welfare laws, environmental laws and health and safety regulations. This is where a Certificate IV in Agriculture is not only highly beneficial but necessary in order to perform your duties to the highest standard. This course is especially ideal if you want to start and manage your own farming business.

4.    Gain real experience

Nothing beats real life experience, so if you want to become a farmer you must get yourself to a farm. Aspiring farmers should work on a farm in order to acquire the skills that come with it. Much of your training will be done on the job under supervision. 

How to become a farmer with the right personality

Young handsome farmer sitting on tractor on a farm

Certain qualities set successful farmers apart, namely a positive attitude and the ability to embrace change. Farmers have a capacity for hard work and thorough decision-making, they’re able to handle adversity and work with a great deal of autonomy. 

Experienced farmers are self-employed and might need to wear many hats, as their role will vary greatly over the course of their career. Remember, a farmer’s job is more than just their livelihood, it’s their life, and it’s as far away as you can get from the average 9-5!

Life on the farm provides a sense of community with family often working together contributing to the running of the farm. As a farmer, you are on-call 24 hours a day seven days a week. 

If there is a problem, you are expected to deal with it right away. At the end of the day, being a farmer is for those who enjoy the measure of independence that farm life provides.

If you are just starting out on the road to becoming a farmer, you will soon see how dynamic and interesting farm life can be.


Inspired to make a lasting impact on the planet? Download your free Agriculture course guide via the form below, or research our Agricultures courses here.

 

Emily Gorsky

Emily Gorsky

Emily Gorsky is a writer with over 5 years of experience in digital marketing and content strategy. Emily is also a proud Associate Member of the Australian Society of Authors.

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