Crop Farmer: Job Description and Career Advancement Info

Crop farming requires little formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and employment outlook to see if this is the right career for you.

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The job of a crop farmer is demanding work, as they perform manual labor from morning to night. They must possess physical strength, stamina, and vast agricultural knowledge. Experience is important, but some crop farmers earn a relevant degree to move up in their career.

Essential Information

Crop farmers must possess knowledge of crop science, as well as experience. Their work is diverse, covering areas such as pest control, horticulture and business contracts. Some work on family farms, while others are employed by large corporate growing operations. Advancement in the field is generally experience-based; however, formal education can increase employment opportunities. A bachelor's degree in agronomy, agricultural business or other relevant field may be useful.

Required Education None; a bachelor's degree in an agriculture-related field is beneficial
Other Requirements May need license to work with pesticides or chemicals
Projected Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 2% decline for farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers
Median Salary (2015)* $64,170 for farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Crop Farmer Job Description

Crop farmers may raise crops like cotton, coffee beans or horticultural items. These farmers can work in a variety of weather or land conditions. They must know about or have experience with entomology and insects, agribusiness ventures and general agronomy. Crop farmers will often need to keep record of crop rotations, yields, expenses and reports that they generate for the government.

These farmers can work for large commercially owned farms or they can own or lease land. Many need to be licensed in order to work with the chemicals and pesticides used to harvest crops. Crop farmers can balance duties such as the day-to-day operation of a farm, acting as farm managers or doing the general labor involved in picking and selecting crops. They can have physically challenging jobs that include operating and dealing with large mechanical equipment and harvest tools across all weather conditions.

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Crop Farmer Career Advancement Information

A crop farmer can begin their career as a farmhand or farm worker, which offers the opportunity to learn the duties to become a farm manager or crop farmer that oversees an entire operation. Crop farmers can gain education for career advancement, which can include studying different areas of the farming and science fields.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) formal education is not required to be a crop farmer, with some farmers entering the field through a family business (www.bls.gov). Crop farmers interested in gaining formal education may consider bachelor's degree programs in agronomy, agricultural business or other related animal or crop sciences. Entering an apprentice program is another viable option to gain experience that can be used for career advancement.

The farming job market is expected to see less growth compared to other industries, according to the BLS, with a 2% decline in jobs expected from 2014-2024. The BLS notes that this decline is, in part, due to farms being able to produce greater quantities with fewer workers. Some areas where farmers may expect possible advancement opportunities are horticulture and organic farming.

The crop farmer produces items we use on a daily basis, such as vegetables, cotton, and coffee beans, working hard in various weather conditions to provide us with the things we need. Crop farmers should have experience and on-site training, although completing an optional degree program can be advantageous for career advancement. Mechanism on the farm is causing a decline in jobs for farmers.

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