First steps to working in the dairy sector


2 min read

Understanding what is involved Is dairy farming for you? Progressing your career in dairy Next steps Who else can help Additional resources

Working on a dairy farm is a rewarding job that many enjoy as they care for animals and land while producing high-quality food every day. The sector provides many opportunities to grow your skills and develop your career, no matter the direction. As with any job, it's important to consider what the day-to-day work will be like, if it will suit your current lifestyle, and if not, whether you’re prepared to make the change.

Understanding what is involved in working on a dairy farm

If you are new to the agricultural or dairy sector, we recommend spending some time understanding what working on a dairy farm involves. You can do this using social media, reading articles and visiting one or more farms for some work experience. Understanding what is involved with living and working on a farm allows you to know whether this is the lifestyle and job that suits you best.

Is dairy farming for you?

We have found some common themes with people who are successful in dairy farming:

  • They like outdoor work and have a good level of fitness.
  • They commonly have experience in mechanical, maintenance, building, engineering or labouring types work.
  • May have experience in rural-related roles such as fertiliser, feed, contracting, banking or stock agent types of work.
  • Are happy to start early in the morning and open to working longer hours during peak times.
  • They have an affinity for animals.
  • They are good at problem-solving and are action orientated.

Progressing your career in dairy

Most people enter dairy farming as a farm assistant to learn important foundations. Then your experience, skills, qualifications, attitude and career aspirations will determine your next steps.

What’s important is that you know the job you’re required to do and the skills you will need to develop for that job and any future jobs.

Roles on dairy farms may share similarities, but they can also vary, especially among farms with different systems and methods. This diversity offers opportunities to enhance skills and expand technical knowledge, regardless of your specific job.

Once you’ve mastered your first role and have decided you would like to see what other opportunities the dairy sector has available for you, it’s a great idea to talk to your current manager or a mentor as they can help you explore the options that may be available to you on your current farm or in the wider sector.

Next steps

To get started we recommend giving our Finding a job on farm section a read. We have provided information on:

If you want to pursue other opportunities beyond being an employed dairy farmer, there are business ownership opportunities which cater to a range of different financial inputs.

Last updated: May 2024

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