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How to progress your career in farming

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Whether you have a family history of farming or are completely new to the profession, it is a good idea to carefully plan your next few steps in your chosen agricultural career.

The variety of roles available within the farming industry is so huge that knowing what options are available to you and where to go for advice is just as vital as being able to drive a tractor or milk a cow.

In this article, we have listed a few of the main farm jobs. (Farm Workers / Farm Managers / Farm Machinery Technicians) You’ll find the key skills required for each role, the likely salary you could expect to receive and how to climb the career ladder.

General farm worker

As a general farm worker, you could be doing a whole host of activities, from operating basic machinery to rearing sheep and pigs.

You will need to have a basic understanding of animals, machinery, plants and farm maintenance, as well as a broad understanding of key health and safety practices. Like the majority of farm work, you will need to be physically capable of carrying out the work, as well as being self-motivated – you may find you’re spending a large proportion of your time working alone.

The good news is that no specific qualifications are needed to get a good farmworker job. That said, it's useful to seek out college courses or apprenticeships to get a grounding before you start.

Salary-wise, the pay you can expect to receive will vary depending on your age and your experience. General farm worker jobs can typically pay from £12,000 - £30,000 pa.

Career progression for general farm workers

If you land a job at a larger farm, you may be able to progress to farm manager, should you demonstrate a good work ethic and are skilled at the job. To take the next step, we recommend completing a farming qualification to further your knowledge and demonstrate your commitment to pursuing a career in farming. There are dozens of agricultural colleges across the UK that offer both classroom and on-the-job training.

Farm manager

Often, successful farm managers will hold a relevant agricultural-based qualification, as well as extensive experience in a practical farming role.

Farm managers should look to develop skills in the areas of business management, IT, decision making, and people management. Being able to cope with stressful situations can also be beneficial, due to the unpredictability of the farming profession.

Starting salaries can be anywhere from £25k - £35k, depending on experience and the size of the farm itself. An experienced manager may be able to earn more than £50k a year.

While farm management can be tough, it offers a hugely rewarding lifestyle. There are benefits too, as some farms look for managers to live on site (often rent free) and provide a farm vehicle as part of the package.

Career progression for farm managers

To truly progress your career as a farm manager, it is wise to gain as much experience as possible. This can include moving around the country to experience different types of farms and their associated challenges. Another great way to develop is to seek out continuous professional development opportunities to keep up to date with the latest advancements in the field.

Farm Managers should also network – it is a good idea to join farming societies and learning groups to make connections, as well as keep in touch with their old agricultural college.

If you’re looking to move on from farm management, possible follow-on opportunities include sales, farm consultancy and even agricultural teaching.

Machinery technician

To be a machinery technician you will need comprehensive understanding of farm machinery as well as the ability to apply information to the task at hand.

Typical attributes of a successful machinery technician are patience and problem solving. Good working knowledge of health and safety practices is also recommended.

For those interested in pursuing a career as a machinery technician, or looking for machinery jobs or spare parts jobs, start by identifying apprenticeships in your local area. You’ll need four GCSEs in English, Maths, Science and IT to get started, plus a willingness to learn and a good work ethic. As an apprentice, you can expect to earn up to £10k in the first year, progressing to around £35k once qualified.

For diagnostic technicians, this can rise to around £45k depending on skills.

Career progression for machinery technicians

It is absolutely vital you keep up with training, as changes in automotive technology are happening all the time.

Experienced technicians can progress into services management, or can look to go self-employed.

For technicians with more than 10 years' experience, a career as a college lecturer could be a possibility.


For those pursuing forestry jobs, no specific qualifications are required. That said, it is sensible to get some grounding before pursuing a career in forestry. There are NVQ qualifications in tree work available, as well as chainsaw operations.

Like most other farm work, apprenticeships are the most common route into a career as a forester. Apprenticeship salaries (Forestry Commission) start at around £13k per annum, rising to £30k+ once qualified.

Career progression in forestry

If you work for a large organisation like the Forestry Commission, career progression can be much clearer. Qualified and experienced foresters can progress to the role of senior forest worker or supervisor.

If you have a keen interest in wildlife, the role of forest ranger might be more suited to you.

To progress in your career as a forester, join voluntary organisations such as The National Trust in order to gain more experience. Local wildlife trusts might also be a good option.

Ready to progress your career?

If you need a helping hand finding the right role for you, give Agricultural Recruitment Specialists a call today. We are an experienced and friendly consultancy specialising in all jobs within agriculture and farming. So, if you’re looking for the next step in your farming, equestrian, horticultural, rural or animal health career, get in touch. We work with hundreds of farming organisations across the UK. Please visit our website today: