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Career Profile: Agricultural Equipment Operators

Drive and control equipment to support agricultural activities such as tilling soil; planting, cultivating, and harvesting crops; feeding and herding livestock; or removing animal waste. May perform tasks such as crop baling or hay bucking. May operate stationary equipment to perform post-harvest tasks such as husking, shelling, threshing, and ginning.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 65,000 people employed as agricultural equipment operators in the United States. The median annual salary is $32,800. Entry level employees earn approximately $21,860 per year and senior employees earn approximately $47,890 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Load and unload crops or containers of materials, manually or using conveyors, handtrucks, forklifts, or transfer augers.
  • Mix specified materials or chemicals, and dump solutions, powders, or seeds into planter or sprayer machinery.
  • Spray fertilizer or pesticide solutions to control insects, fungus and weed growth, and diseases, using hand sprayers.
  • Observe and listen to machinery operation to detect equipment malfunctions.
  • Operate or tend equipment used in agricultural production, such as tractors, combines, and irrigation equipment.
  • Adjust, repair, and service farm machinery and notify supervisors when machinery malfunctions.
  • Manipulate controls to set, activate, and adjust mechanisms on machinery.
  • Attach farm implements such as plows, discs, sprayers, or harvesters to tractors, using bolts and hand tools.
  • Load hoppers, containers, or conveyors to feed machines with products, using forklifts, transfer augers, suction gates, shovels, or pitchforks.
  • Direct and monitor the activities of work crews engaged in planting, weeding, or harvesting activities.
  • Operate towed machines such as seed drills or manure spreaders to plant, fertilize, dust, and spray crops.
  • Weigh crop-filled containers, and record weights and other identifying information.
  • Walk beside or ride on planting machines while inserting plants in planter mechanisms at specified intervals.
  • Drive trucks to haul crops, supplies, tools, or farm workers.
  • Guide products on conveyors to regulate flow through machines, and to discard diseased or rotten products.
  • Position boxes or attach bags at discharge ends of machinery to catch products, removing and closing full containers.
  • Irrigate soil, using portable pipes or ditch systems, and maintain ditches or pipes and pumps.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
65,000
Annual Openings:
11,700
Increase in Openings by 2030:
13%
Annual Salary Range:
$21,860 - $47,890
Education Requirements:
Some high school