Agricultural contractor

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Agricultural contractors provide specialised, seasonal or temporary services to farmers.

Salary Range: Variable

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You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly
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You could take a course at agricultural college, which may be useful when you start looking for work. Courses include:

  • Level 2 Award in Agriculture Machine Maintenance
  • Level 2 Certificate in Agriculture

Entry requirements

You may need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
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You could get into this job through an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship in agriculture.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
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Direct application

You could apply directly to become an agricultural contractor. Employers will usually expect you to have experience of working with farm machinery.

More information

Career tips

Agricultural contracting can be competitive, with lots of contractors applying for the same work. It will help you to get jobs and build your business if you have a specialism that no one else in the surrounding area offers.

Professional and industry bodies

You could join the National Association of Agricultural Contractors, which can help with industry training and professional development.

Further information

You’ll find more about working and training in agriculture from Tasty Careers and the National Land Based College.

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Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • ambition and a desire to succeed
  • the ability to work well with others
  • knowledge of food production methods
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • persistence and determination
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • maths knowledge
  • knowledge of human resources and employment law
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and requirements

You’ll need to:

  • have a Certificate of Competence, if you carry out hazardous tasks using a chainsaw

Driving other vehicles like lorries, tractors, harvesters and fork lift trucks can also be part of your work. You can find out more about driving specialist vehicles from GOV.UK.

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Day-to-day tasks

You may specialise in areas like:

  • crop spraying and fertilising
  • harvesting
  • seed processing
  • seed milling and mixing
  • sheep shearing and dipping
  • animal management including hoof trimming
  • lambing
  • breeding

You could also carry out general work like:

  • dry stone walling
  • fencing
  • excavation
  • drainage work

Working environment

You could work on a farm.

Your working environment may be physically demanding, outdoors in all weathers and you’ll travel often.

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With experience, you could move into teaching, training or consultancy.

You could also work for private companies or co-operatives that offer management services to farms.