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How to Become an Agricultural Worker

Agricultural workers typically receive on-the-job training. Many do not need a high school diploma before they begin working, but employers require animal breeders to have either more work experience and training or a college degree.

Education and Training

Most agricultural workers do not need a high school diploma. Instead, they usually get up to a year of on-the-job training, depending on their responsibilities. In addition to on-the-job training, some animal breeders have a bachelor’s degree in animal science and genetics.

Work Experience

Animal breeders typically have several years of experience in a related occupation.

Important Qualities

Listening skills. Agricultural workers need to work well with others. Because they take instructions from farmers and other agricultural managers, effective listening is critical.

Manual dexterity. Agricultural workers need excellent hand-eye coordination to harvest crops and operate farm machinery.

Physical stamina. Agricultural workers need to be able to perform laborious tasks repeatedly.

Physical strength. Agricultural workers must be strong enough to lift heavy objects, including tools and crops.

Technical skills. Agricultural workers must be able to competently operate complex farm machinery. They also occasionally do routine maintenance on the machinery.


Agricultural workers may advance to crew leader or other supervisory positions. The ability to speak both English and Spanish is helpful for agricultural supervisors.

Some agricultural workers aspire to become farmers, ranchers, and agricultural managers or to own their own farms and ranches. Knowledge of produce may provide an excellent background for becoming a purchasing agent and buyer of farm products. Those who earn a college degree in agricultural science could become agricultural and food scientists. For more information, see the profiles on farmers, ranchers, and agricultural managers and agricultural and food scientists.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition