Jobs in agriculture, forestry and fishing

Everything you need to know about getting a job in the agriculture, forestry, and fishing industry.

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Your interests

This industry may be for you if you are interested in:

  • working outdoors
  • physically demanding work
  • working with tools, machinery, and equipment
  • driving tractors and heavy machinery
  • raising and working with animals
  • picking and packing food
  • building and working with your hands
  • working on boats
  • working with people and being part of a team.

Things to consider

Seasonal work is common, providing short-term opportunities for workers of all ages. You will develop skills on the job. You will probably need to live in regional Australia and work fulltime hours.

Almost 30 per cent of people working in agriculture, forestry and fishing are aged 60 years and over, compared to 11 per cent across all industries. This could present a good opportunity for younger people to enter the industry.1

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported the employee median pay is $1,100 per week before tax.2

This weekly pay is only a guide. Your salary may vary depending on your qualifications, experience and skills.

You might be surprised to know that it’s not only men who work in this industry. These days it’s common for women to work in agriculture, forestry, and fishing as well.

Entry level roles

Your skills and how you present yourself can be more important than formal qualifications. Many businesses advertise entry level roles and will provide on-the-job training.

Businesses value skills and attitudes over prior work experience. A qualification can be helpful.

Entry level roles in the industry include:

  • crop farm workers
  • packing and sorting workers
  • fruit and vegetable pickers
  • farm, forestry, and garden workers
  • wool handlers
  • garden and nursery labourers
  • farm or fishing hands
  • seafood and meat packers.

Visit the Labour Market Insights website for information about entry level roles and occupation profiles.

There can be competition for entry level positions. You may want to consider a short course to build some starting skills. Taking a course in an area of interest can show you have learnt some relevant skills and knowledge.

  • A gardening course may provide you with background information on soil types, irrigation, and pesticides.
  • It’s useful to get basic first aid skills.
  • It’s essential to get workplace health and safety training for most jobs.

Entry requirements

Businesses in this industry will train staff in the skills they require for the role. Employers may consider skills you have gotten from other jobs.

For a career in this industry, it can be good to:

  • be enthusiastic about agriculture and sustainability
  • enjoy working outdoors
  • be able to work in different work environments.

Some roles can be physically demanding. Job ads will make this clear.

Businesses may require you to undergo a medical exam before commencing work.

Some roles will need licenses and accreditations. These may be:

  • first aid certificate
  • boat licence
  • driver’s license.

Find a job in agriculture, forestry and fishing

Vacancies arise often but may be seasonal. Some people may leave the job after a brief time to move into different roles, or more senior positions. Temporary positions are often available as demand increases during busier seasons.

Finding vacancies can be one of the most challenging parts of starting a career in the industry. You can search for jobs on:

  • industry job boards
  • websites of the larger employers.

All Australians can search and apply for jobs through Workforce Australia.

The Pacific Australia Labour Mobility Scheme gives Pacific Island and Timor-Leste workers opportunities. You can access a range of seasonal and longer-term jobs in Australia through their governments' labour sending units.

Find out more about applying for the Pacific Australia Labour Market Scheme.

Search for jobs at the:

Visit the Australian Apprenticeships Pathway website to find information on jobs search websites that may relate to apprenticeships and traineeships.

How to apply for a job in agriculture, forestry, and fishing

Explore the Workforce Australia services, resources, and tools to support you in your job search journey. Find tips to develop your application and prepare for an interview.

Check out Job Jumpstart. It offers resources and activities to help you work out what jobs might suit you.

Get a harvest job

Workforce Australia has information to help you decide whether harvest work is right for you.

There are many entry level roles in harvest work. The Harvest Trail website is the best place to find harvest jobs in Australia. Harvest work is seasonal. You will find a variety of job opportunities across most Australian states and territories. Depending on the season, you will find jobs ranging from farm labouring to crop picking, planting, pruning, or packing.

Harvest Trail Services providers offer a free job placement service. They connect employers and workers to fill seasonal harvest jobs. Visit the Harvest Trail Services website to check if you’re eligible to participate.

Workers and employers can contact the Harvest Trail Information Service for information on harvest jobs and other agricultural work.

The Fair Work Ombudsman website has information on your rights as a harvest worker. It helps you to stay safe when looking for harvest jobs.

Career opportunities

This industry is ideal if you want to work your way up from an entry level position.

Entry level roles may progress into team leader, supervisor, or manager roles. Many people work their way up the career ladder by gaining relevant experience over time.

If you want a change, or to advance your career, there are transferrable skills if you have worked:

  • in a role in this industry
  • in the labour or warehouse industry
  • with machinery
  • in a role in management or logistics.

Visit the Workforce Australia JobSwitch tool to help you find new and different jobs you might already have the skills for.

Qualifications can also help you to fill skill gaps or to take the next step in your career. Visit the Your Career website for information on careers and resources available.

Apprenticeship and training

Qualifications can help your career. When you need qualifications, you can apply for an Australian Apprenticeship and work towards a Certificate 3 or Certificate 4 in a related field.

You can consider vocational education and training courses for:

  • agriculture, horticulture and conservation and land management
  • seafood
  • forest and wood products
  • Australian meat
  • national water.

Visit the Australian Apprenticeships website to:

The Australian Apprenticeships Pathways website also has useful information about apprenticeships and traineeships.

You can also search for subsidised training courses on the Your Career website.

University courses

Some workers in this industry are getting higher education. Search for university courses on Course Seeker website.

Universities offer degrees in:

  • agriculture technology and management
  • agribusiness
  • applied science
  • agriculture and forestry systems science.

Self-Employment Assistance

Self-Employment Assistance can help you turn your business idea into a viable business, or even help with your existing business, through flexible services like:

  • exploring self-employment workshops
  • business plan development
  • free accredited small business training
  • business advice sessions
  • business health checks
  • small business coaching.

You may also be eligible for financial support while you start and run your business as part of Small Business Coaching.

Self-Employment Assistance can give you the skills to establish and operate your own business in the agriculture industry, including:

  • identifying gaps in the market
  • finance and bookkeeping
  • marketing
  • connecting with supplier and customer
  • executing a business plan.

Businesses can be in many forms including:

  • weed control
  • bush regeneration
  • fruit and vegetable cultivation
  • farmland restoration and maintenance
  • farming technologies.

Find out more about starting your own business.

Get experience

AgCAREERSTART is a 10–12-month gap-year program designed to kickstart your career in farming.

If you are under 25 and at the start of your career, it’s a great way to:

  • learn new skills
  • apply your knowledge
  • build your confidence.

As a participant you will:

  • Get matched with a host farmer based on your skills and interests.
  • Work and earn money for 10-12 months.
  • Receive training, mentoring and support to complete training.
  • Enjoy access to industry events and a network of industry members and peers.

Volunteer

Volunteer work can be a good way to gain experience. You can find volunteering opportunities in your local area at the GoVolunteer website to:

  • work in community gardens or nurseries
  • maintain grounds for local recreation grounds
  • do field work at local reserves
  • volunteer at events.

More information

There are range of tools and resources that can help you decide if you will be the right fit for this industry:

  • Complete a career quiz at the Your Career website. Find out which occupations match your preferences.
  • If you are aged 15-24 years, you can book a free one-hour Youth Advisory Session phone consultation with a qualified youth career consultant to discuss you interests and dislikes, career options and possible pathways you may not have previously considered.
  • Watch the following YouTube videos for advice from people working in the following industries:

Source: Labour Market Insights, Agriculture Forestry and Fishing, ABS 2016 Census, customised report, accessed 7 July 2023. – Return to age consideration

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Employee earnings, August 2022, accessed 7 July 2023. – Return to median pay