Agricultural, Forestry & Horticultural Operators
Agricultural, Forestry and Horticultural Plant Operators operate agricultural, forestry and horticultural plant to clear and cultivate land, sow and harvest crops, and fell trees and move logs.
preparing and positioning plant for operation
operating tractor-drawn and self-propelled plant to plough land and sow, fertilise, cultivate and harvest crops, and avoid damaging crops
adjusting speed, height and depth of implements
operating plant to hold, lift and cut trees
operating attachments to lift, swing, release and sort trees and logs, and operating auxiliary plant such as chipping machines and log splitting machines
feeding felled trees into processors to strip limbs and cut into logs and loading logs onto stockpiles and into trucks
keeping log tallies and writing work reports
servicing plant and performing minor repairs
Vocational Education and Training (VET)
Informal or on-the-job
JSA produces employment projections to show where likely future job opportunities may be. The latest data are for the five years from November 2021 to November 2026. Over this period, the number of workers:
- is expected to grow strongly
- is likely to reach 17,000 by 2026.
Source: Jobs and Skills Australia Employment Projections to 2026.
Notes: The number employed includes people who work in this occupation as their main job. People who work in more than one job are counted against the occupation they work the most hours in.
Employment projections figures are rounded to the nearest 100. Calculations based on these rounded figures may result in differences to the numbers that are displayed on this page. Employment projections data (including occupations) can be downloaded from the Employment Projections page.
Number of Workers
Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, ABS seasonally adjusted data to November 2021 and Jobs and Skills Australia Employment Projections to 2026.
Earnings and hours
Around 82% of people employed as Agricultural, Forestry & Horticultural Operators work full-time hours, in all their jobs combined. This is 16 percentage points above the all jobs average (66%).
Full-time workers work an average of 49 hours per week in their main job. This is 5 hours more than the all jobs average (44 hours per week).
Median full-time earnings are $1,185 per week, this is much lower than the all jobs median ($1,593):
- 3 in 4 workers earn more than $950
- 1 in 4 earn more than $1,329
Median hourly earnings are $31, this is lower than the all jobs median ($41 per hour).
Sources: Full-time share and full-time hours: ABS, 2016 Census, customised report. Compared to the all jobs average. Full-time median earnings and median hourly earnings: ABS, Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours, May 2021. Compared to all jobs median.
Weekly Earnings (Before Tax)
|Earnings||Agricultural, Forestry & Horticultural Operators||All Jobs Average|
Source: Based on ABS Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours, May 2021, Customised Report. Median weekly total cash earnings for full-time non-managerial employees paid at the adult rate. Earnings are before tax and include amounts salary sacrificed. Earnings can vary greatly depending on the skills and experience of the worker and the demands of the role. These figures should be used as a guide only, not to determine a wage rate.
Most Agricultural, Forestry & Horticultural Operators work in the Agriculture, forestry and fishing industry. They are also employed in industries like:
Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2021.
Employment across Australia
Employment by State and Territory (% Share)
|State||Agricultural, Forestry & Horticultural Operators||All Jobs Average|
Around 90% of Agricultural, Forestry & Horticultural Operators live outside of capital cities, compared with the all jobs average of 38%.
Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania have a large share of employment relative to their population size.
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Share of workers across Australian states, territories and regions, in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Age and gender
The median age of Agricultural, Forestry and Horticultural Operators is 43 years. This is higher than the all jobs average of 40 years.
A large share of workers are aged 45 to 54 years.
Females make up 6% of the workforce. This is 42 percentage points below the all jobs average of 48%.
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile and gender share compared to the all jobs average.
Age Profile (% Share)
|Age Bracket||Agricultural, Forestry & Horticultural Operators||All Jobs Average|
|65 and Over||6.4||4.2|
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile of workers in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Education, training and experience
Formal qualifications are not essential to work as an Agricultural, Forestry or Horticultural Plant Operator. Although some workers have a certificate III or IV in rural machinery operations or harvesting and haulage.
- My Skills to compare Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses, providers and student outcomes.
- AAPathways website to explore Agriculture, Horticulture and Conservation & Land Management VET training pathways.
Highest Level of Education (% Share)
|Type of Qualification||Agricultural, Forestry & Horticultural Operators||All Jobs Average|
|Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate||0.3||10.1|
|Year 10 and below||39.6||12.5|
Source: ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Highest qualification completed by workers in this job (in any field of study). Qualifications needed by new workers might be different from the qualifications of workers already in the job.
Skills and Knowledge
Employers look for Agricultural, Forestry & Horticultural Operators who are trustworthy and responsible, can communicate with a variety of people and have good team work skills.
Skills can be improved through training or experience.
54%Operation and control
Controlling equipment or systems.
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Maintaining equipment and deciding what maintenance will be needed in the future.
Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
Fixing machines or systems.
Figuring out why a machine or system went wrong and working out what to do about it.
Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.
41%Quality control analysis
Doing tests and checking products, services, or processes to make sure they are working properly.
Talking to others.
36%Coordination with others
Being adaptable and coordinating work with other people.
34%Complex problem solving
Noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it.
Understanding why people react the way they do.
Keeping track of how well work is progressing so you can make changes or improvements.
29%Judgment and decision making
Figuring out the pros and cons of different options and choosing the best one.
Reading work related information.
27%Management of personnel resources
Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, and choosing the best people for the job.
Managing your own and other peoples' time to get work done.
Being able to use what you have learnt to solve problems now and again in the future.
Teaching people how to do something.
Deciding on the kind of tools and equipment needed to do a job.
These are important topics, subjects or knowledge areas.
Planting, growing, and harvesting food (both plant and animal), including storage and handling.
Chemical composition, structure, and properties. How chemicals are made, used, mixed, and can change.
57%Administration and management
Business principles involved in strategic planning, leadership, and coordinating people and resources.
Design techniques, tools, and principles used to make detailed technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
53%Building and construction
Materials, and methods used to construct or repair houses, buildings, or other structures like highways and roads.
46%Education and training
Curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
39%Production and processing
Raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and ways of making and distributing goods.
English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
34%Personnel and human resources
Recruiting and training people, managing pay and other entitlements (like sick leave), and negotiating pay and conditions.
30%Customer and personal service
Understanding customer needs, providing good quality service, and measuring customer satisfaction.
Transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
Plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, how they rely on and work with each other and the environment.
The physical laws of matter, motion and energy, and how they interact through space and time.
Describing land, sea, and air, including their physical characteristics, locations, how they work together, and the location of plant, animal, and human life.
Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics.
Foreign (non-English) language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition and grammar, and pronunciation.
14%Public safety and security
Use of equipment, rules and ideas to protect people, data, property, and institutions.
14%Economics and accounting
Economics and accounting, the financial markets, banking and checking and reporting of financial data.
Word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office work.
Workers use these physical and mental abilities..
Quickly change the controls of a machine, car, truck or boat.
Use your arms and/or legs at the same time while sitting, standing, or lying down.
Listen to and understand what people say.
Tell the difference between sounds.
Communicate by speaking.
Decide which thing is closer or further away from you, or decide how far away it is.
Quickly move your hand, finger, or foot when a sound, light, picture or something else appears.
Put together small parts with your fingers.
See details that are up-close (within a few feet).
Keep your hand or arm steady.
Quickly move your hand to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
Notice when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong, even if you can't solve the problem.
Change when and how fast you move based on how something else is moving.
Quickly choose the right movement of the hand, foot, or other body part when there are two or more different signals (lights, sounds, pictures).
Pay attention to something without being distracted.
Pay attention to a certain sound when there are other distracting sounds.
Use general rules to find answers or solve problems logically.
See details that are far away.
Speak clearly so others can understand you.
Identify and understand the speech of another person.
These are kinds of activities workers regularly do in this job.
77%Handling and moving objects
Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, moving and manipulating objects.
66%Controlling equipment or machines
Operating machines or processes either directly or using controls (not including computers or vehicles).
66%Working with mechanical equipment
Servicing, repairing, adjusting, and testing machines, devices, moving parts, and equipment.
63%Doing physically active work
Use your arms, legs and whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling objects.
56%Researching and investigating
Looking for, getting and understanding different kinds of information.
54%Driving vehicles or equipment
Running, manoeuvring, navigating, or driving things like forklifts, vehicles, aircraft, or water craft.
54%Checking for errors or defects
Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials for errors, problems or defects.
54%Monitoring people, processes and things
Checking objects, actions, or events, and keeping an eye out for problems.
52%Planning and prioritising work
Deciding on goals and putting together a detailed plan to get the work done.
49%Making decisions and solving problems
Using information to work out the best solution and solve problems.
48%Scheduling work and activities
Working out the timing of events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
46%Communicating within a team
Giving information to co-workers by telephone, in writing, or in person.
43%Coordinating the work of a team
Getting members of a group to work together to finish a task.
38%Keeping your knowledge up-to-date
Keeping up-to-date with technology and new ideas.
37%Managing payments and orders
Monitoring and controlling resources and the spending of money.
35%Looking for changes over time
Comparing objects, actions, or events. Looking for differences between them or changes over time.
32%Training and teaching others
Understanding the needs of others, developing training programs, and teaching or instructing.
31%Coming up with systems and processes
Deciding on goals and figuring out what you need to do to achieve them.
29%Estimating amounts, costs and resources
Working out sizes, distances, amounts, time, costs, resources, or materials needed for a task.
25%Documenting or recording information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Interests and demands
Learn about the daily activities, and physical and social demands faced by workers. Explore the values and work styles that workers rate as most important.
Interests are the style or type of work we prefer to do. All interest areas are shown below.
Practical, hands-on work. Often with plants and animals, or materials like wood, tools, and machinery.
Following set procedures and routines. Working with numbers and details more than with ideas, usually following rules.
Ideas and thinking. Searching for facts and figuring out problems in your head.
Starting up and carrying out projects. Leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes require risk taking and often deal with business.
Working with forms, designs and patterns. Often need self-expression and can be done without following rules.
Working with people. Helping or providing service to others.
Supportive management that stands behind employees. Workers are treated fairly by their company, they are supported by management, and have supervisors who train them well.
Work alone and make decisions. Workers are able to try out their own ideas, make decisions on their own, and work with little or no supervision.
Results oriented. Workers are able to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.
Serve and work with others. Workers usually get along well with each other, do things to help other people, and are rarely pressured to do things that go against their sense of right and wrong.
Job security and good working conditions. There is usually a steady flow of interesting work, and the pay and conditions are generally good.
Advancement and the potential to lead. Workers are recognised for the work that they do, they may give directions and instructions to others, and they are looked up to in their company and their community.
Talk with people face-to-face.
96%Outdoors, exposed to weather
Work outdoors, exposed to the weather.
95%In an open vehicle or equipment
Work in an open vehicle (e.g., a tractor).
95%In an enclosed vehicle or equipment
Work in a closed vehicle (e.g., car).
Talk on the telephone.
87%Using your hands to handle, control, or feel
Spend time using your hands to handle, control, or feel objects, tools or controls.
84%Very hot or cold temperatures
Work in very hot or cold temperatures.
83%Exposure to contaminants
Be exposed to pollutants, gases, dust or odours.
79%Loud or uncomfortable sounds
Be exposed to noises and sounds that are distracting or uncomfortable.
Work near dangerous equipment like saws, machinery with open moving parts, or moving traffic.
76%Contact with people
Have contact with people by telephone, face-to-face, or any other way.
76%Outdoors, under cover
Work outdoors, under cover (e.g., in an open shed).
72%Being exact or accurate
Be very exact or highly accurate.
72%Consequence of error
Work where mistakes have serious consequences.
71%Indoors, not heat controlled
Work indoors without heating or cooling (e.g., warehouse without heat).
69%Health and safety of others
Take responsibility for the health and safety of others.
69%Pace of work set by equipment
Pace of work depends on the speed of equipment or machinery.
69%Freedom to make decisions
Have freedom to make decision on your own.
Have freedom to decide on tasks, priorities, and goals.
Work with people in a group or team.
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
The skills and importance ratings on this page are derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2, 45-2091.00 - Agricultural Equipment Operators.
Links and downloads
Research and reports
The Skills Priority List provides a current labour market rating and a future demand rating for nearly 800 occupations nationally. Current labour market ratings are available for occupations at a state and territory level.
Occupation profiles data are available for download.
The Employment Projections are available for download.