Harvesting Supervisor: Job Description, Duties, Outlook and Salary

Sep 20, 2019

A harvesting supervisor oversees various harvesting operations related to crops, livestock, wood and fish. Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a decline in job growth for agricultural managers during the 2018-2028 decade, it indicates that professionals in this field who have diverse work experience within the industry are more likely to find employment. Most harvesting supervisors receive on-the-job training; however, some have completed a bachelor's degree in a field related to agriculture.

Essential Information

Harvesting supervisors work in the agricultural industry managing the harvesting of crops and livestock. They may also work in the forestry industry, supervising the harvesting of wood used for commercial applications, or in the aquaculture industry, where they manage workers who harvest aquatic livestock for food consumption. Although many supervisors receive training on the job, they may also earn an undergraduate degree related to agricultural, forestry or aquaculture business.

Required Education High school diploma or GED certificate, plus on-the-job training; some hold bachelor's degrees in relevant fields
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* -1% decline for farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers
Median Salary (2018)* $46,960 for first-line supervisors of farming, fishing and forestry workers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description for Harvesting Supervisors

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), this position is similar to other agricultural industry managers in regards that they are workers who oversee a particular part of the production, namely harvesting (www.bls.gov). Many harvesting supervisors work at larger farms and coordinate their efforts with other managers on site. For instance, harvesting supervisors have to know how many workers to hire for the season, so they must speak with both the planting and cultivation supervisors to find out what was planted in each location and how many crops are expected to grow.

Harvesting Supervisor Job Duties

Besides hiring workers, supervisors must order equipment and make sure it is properly maintained. Many also train workers on using harvesting equipment. Supervisors should know how to do every harvesting job on site, even though they may not perform these tasks on a daily basis. In fact much of their time may be spent making sure workers are completing tasks, submitting invoices, and writing reports. These reports can include budget projections, harvest quotas, and work-hours used. Depending on the size of the farm, some harvesting supervisors may work directly with marketing teams that package the harvested product. Harvesting supervisors may also be employed in the forestry and aquaculture industries, where they have similar duties.

Career Outlook for Harvesting Supervisors

The BLS projected that employment opportunities for farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers will see a decline through 2028 due to a significant shift in the agricultural and food production industries. Although the trend toward the larger farm model will limit employment growth, the BLS noted that supervisor positions in some niche markets may see an increase. For instance, farms focusing on organic crops and sustainable farming methods show significant growth in the industry. Owners may also be more likely to hire supervisors that possess a diversified background in harvesting different products within the agricultural and horticultural industries.

Salary Information of a Harvesting Supervisor

Salary information for agricultural managers changes frequently due to various factors that affect the value of farm products sold. Many large farms receive subsidized funding from the government that can provide a slightly more stable income for workers. The BLS reported that the mean annual salary earned by first-line supervisors of farming, fishing and forestry production was $50,790 in May 2019.

Common tasks of a harvesting supervisor include hiring laborers, maintaining and operating farm equipment, filling out invoices and writing reports on topics such as budgets and quotas. They need to have a solid understanding of all harvesting procedures that are completed on a site. A high school diploma is typically required to work as a harvesting supervisor.

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