What's It Like To Work as a Farmer? Career Duties, Benefits and Steps

Updated December 19, 2022

If you are a person who enjoys working outdoors with plants or animals, you may be interested in becoming a farmer. Farmers can specialize in different agricultural sectors, providing food, animal products and raw materials. Learning more about what it's like to work as a farmer could help you decide if this is the right path for you. In this article, we explain what a farmer does, list the potential benefits and answer some frequently asked questions about this career path.

What does a farmer do?

A farmer is an agricultural professional who raises living animals or plants. They may produce raw materials, food or animal products. They can specialize in different agricultural areas such as dairy or flowers. Their responsibilities can vary depending on their specialty, but common duties can include:

  • Planting, fertilizing and harvesting plants

  • Feeding and herding groups of animals

  • Providing special diets and care for animals

  • Collecting food or animal products

  • Performing manual labor

  • Operating farm equipment

  • Selecting and purchasing products such as fertilizer, seeds and equipment

  • Inspecting and maintaining farming equipment

  • Managing a team of farmworkers

  • Selling food products or animals to customers, stores or other farmers

  • Supervising farm facilities and repairing tools

  • Updating records with tax information, employee data and production sales

Read more: 14 Jobs in Gardening and Horticulture

What is the workplace of a farmer like?

Farmers work or manage farms. They often work outside, although they may also work in an office setting when managing paperwork. Many farmers operate their own farms, run a family farm or lease land to manage a working farm. They may work independently on small farms or run large farms with a team of agricultural professionals. Depending on the size of the farm, they may supervise and maintain fields, buildings and delivery services.

Benefits of working as a farmer

Working as a farmer has many potential benefits, including:

  • Ability to work outside: Farmers spend most of their workday outside. They often wake early to feed animals, inspect crops and perform other agricultural duties. Farming can be a great profession for people who enjoy being outside.

  • Increased activity: Farming requires a lot of physical exercise and activity. This can be a great role for professionals who enjoy staying active.

  • Improved well-being: Being outside and performing physical activity could help improve your well-being.

  • High job satisfaction: Farmers perform essential work by creating food and food products for people. Some professionals feel more satisfied when they know they are doing important tasks.

  • More independence: Many farmers operate their own farms. They can schedule their days, hire employees and make important decisions.

Read more: 25 Active Jobs To Consider

How to become a farmer

If you are interested in becoming a farmer, consider following these general steps:

1. Research farming types

Farmers can specialize in different agricultural services. Before becoming a farmer, consider researching the types of farms to determine what path you are most interested in. Some types to consider include:

  • Organic farming

  • Tree farming

  • Cattle farming

  • Poultry farming

  • Fish farming

  • Flower farming

  • Urban farming

  • Vineyard farming

  • Beekeeping

  • Pick-your-own farming

  • Commercial farming

Farmers may specialize in one or more areas. For example, a farmer might raise poultry, cattle and organic vegetables. Learning more about the types of farming could help you plan your career path.

2. Gain farming experience

Aspiring farmers can develop industry knowledge and technical skills while working on a farm or ranch. Consider applying for an entry-level farming position or signing up as a farm volunteer to gain professional experience. Depending on your location and skills, you may find a role as a seasonal worker, ranch hand, or cashier.

3. Learn more about farming

There are no formal education requirements for this career, but farmers must possess agricultural knowledge about plants and animals. They also need technical skills to operate machinery and business skills to manage their farm's finances. Some farmers gain this knowledge by earning an associate or bachelor's degree in agricultural sciences, farm business or animal science. Other farmers develop their skills by completing certification courses, seminars or independent research.

Read more: 20 Agricultural Science Jobs

4. Explore financing options

Whether you are purchasing an existing farm or starting a new farm, it's important to consider the financing options. In some locations, there are special loans available for farmers. Other financing options can include a mortgage, credit system or investors.

5. Plan and organize your business

Operating a farm requires careful planning and business strategy. Consider organizing your information and creating a business plan before you open a new farm. You can create a budget using your expected costs and sales. Also, consider who you will use as suppliers and how you plan to sell goods. Some farmers manage their own storefronts, while others send goods to local or national buyers.

6. Purchase equipment, tools and products

The next step to becoming a farmer is purchasing your initial materials. This can vary depending on the specialty but may include tractors, plows and hay balers. You may also purchase any products you need to begin your farm, such as animals, animal food and seeds.

7. Hire a crew

Depending on the size of your farm, you may need to hire a crew of agricultural professionals to help you harvest your crops and manage your animals. You can hire full-time or part-time farmhands, bookkeepers or truck drivers depending on the size of your farm and the products you sell.

Read more: How To Become Farmer in 8 Steps

FAQ about working as a farmer

Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions about being a farmer:

How long does it take to become a farmer?

The time it takes to become a farmer can vary for each individual. Some farmers work on a family farm and develop technical knowledge early in their lives. It is possible to become a farmer after high school, although many farmers attend an associate or bachelor's program to develop business skills and agricultural knowledge. An associate program takes two years to complete, and a bachelor's degree takes four.

What skills do farmers need?

To perform their duties, farmers use a specific set of hard and soft skills, including:

  • Endurance: Farmers may work long hours performing physical activities. They need physical stamina and endurance to accomplish all of their tasks.

  • Time-management: Running a successful farm takes careful planning. Farmers must plan different crop cycles and schedule their days using strong time-management skills.

  • Communication: Farmers may communicate with their employees, suppliers or customers. They need strong communication and interpersonal skills to discuss prices and expectations.

  • Management skills: Depending on the size of the farm, a farmer may oversee a team of agricultural professionals. They need strong management skills to delegate tasks and motivate their team.

  • Organizational skills: Farmers can use strong organizational skills to manage business operations, file paperwork and plan schedules.

What equipment and tools do farmers use?

The equipment and tools a farmer uses will vary depending on their industry. Some of the most common types of equipment and tools include:

  • Truck

  • Utility vehicle

  • Tractor

  • Lawnmower

  • Plows

  • Backhoe

  • Tiller

  • Mechanical digger

  • Pallet fork

  • Wagon

  • Livestock trailer

  • Loader

  • Baler

  • Harvester

  • Various saws

  • Garden hoe

  • Shovel

  • Composter

  • Rake

  • Pesticide or herbicide sprayer

  • Garden hose

  • Feed storage

  • Feed scoop


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