What do Agricultural Equipment Operators Do?
We all depend on farmers and the agriculture industry to provide us with the food we eat every day. Agricultural equipment operators play an important role in production by specializing in the use of farming equipment. Some of the tools an agricultural equipment operator may use include soil tillers, harvesters, and seed drills. Nationally, the projected job openings are at 4% annually. This translates to about 2,020 new positions that are expected to become available every year.
Agricultural Equipment Operators Skills and Abilities
`Agricultural equipment operators often need to drive farming equipment to prepare fields for harvest, so strong driving skills are an important part of the job. Other duties entail operating stationary tools, and for these tasks, a general mechanical competence is necessary. Familiarity with farming practices and methods will be helpful because you will likely be responsible for a variety of tasks beyond operating equipment. In addition to working with machinery, you may bale crops or buck hay. For this position, you should possess a proclivity for manual labor as well as the ability to operate farming equipment.
Agricultural Equipment Operators Duties
As an agricultural equipment operator, you can expect to work with a team of people who are responsible for maintaining a farm’s daily functions. While you may not work beside them all day, you will have to engage with them cohesively and communicate well in order to complete your tasks. You will probably be given tasks outside of your specialty on occasion to ensure all of the farm’s duties are completed. Some of the duties you may be assigned include:
- Care for, service, and repair all equipment used on the farm
- Fertilize crops manually or with equipment
- Plant, fertilize, and harvest crops by operating plows, tractors, and other equipment
- Maintain proper conditions for fields by monitoring irrigation
- Drive trucks to transport materials around farm
Agricultural Equipment Operators Tools and Technology
Equipment operators must be comfortable operating heavy machinery and driving industrial equipment on a daily basis. You will most commonly be using tools like harvesters, fertilizer spreaders, and seed drills. In addition to operating this machinery, you should be able to regularly service it and repair it should maintenance be required. You may also need to learn a software such as Martens Farms Farm Site Mate to perform certain tasks.
Education and Training for Agricultural Equipment Operators
There are many entry-level positions available in agricultural equipment operation, so you will not need a degree or prior training to pursue this occupation. Most equipment operation positions on farms are open to applicants with minimal qualifications, and training usually occurs on-the-job. This makes farming equipment operation a relatively easy field to enter and gain experience in.
Agricultural Equipment Operators Salary
Since agricultural equipment operators require minimal education and prior experience, the pay can be close to or slightly better than that offered at other entry-level jobs. Most jobs are paid hourly rather than by salary. The bottom 10% working in this occupation earn $8.63 per hour, and the top 10% earn $20.07 per hour. The median wage is $12.94, however, so you may find that this position pays better than jobs in other fields with low entry requirements.
Agricultural Equipment Operators Jobs by Geography
Areas where farming is a thriving industry, of course, have the most opportunities available for agricultural equipment operators. Job prospects are the best in states like California, Texas, and Iowa. In order to determine where you are most likely to find a job, you may want to consider what kind of farm you would like to work on. Your experience on a small, family-owned farm will likely be different than working for an industrialized corporate farm. In order to find the jobs that are best suited to your goals, you should research what kind of farms populate different areas.