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.

A Certificate II or III, or at least 1 year of relevant experience, is usually needed to work in this job. Around two in five workers have Years 11 and 10 as their highest level of education. Even with a qualification, sometimes experience or on-the-job training is necessary. Registration or licensing may be required.

Tasks

  • 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

Job Titles

  • Agricultural and Horticultural Mobile Plant Operator
  • Logging Plant Operator
  • Agricultural and Horticultural Mobile Plant Operator

    Operates agricultural and horticultural plant to clear and cultivate land, and sow and harvest crops. Registration or licensing may be required.

    Specialisations: Cotton Picking Machine Operator, Harvester Operator, Tractor Operator

  • Logging Plant Operator

    Operates plant to fell trees and drag, transport and load logs onto trucks. Registration or licensing may be required.

    Specialisations: Forwarder Operator, Skidder Operator, Tree Feller Operator

Fast Facts

  • Avg. Weekly Pay

    $975 Before Tax
  • Future Growth

    stable
  • Skill Level

    Certificate II or III
  • Employment Size

    13600
  • Unemployment

    average
  • Male Share

    92.9%
  • Female Share

    7.1%
  • Full-Time Share

    82.9%

Find Vacancies

This is a medium sized occupation employing 13,600 workers. Over the past 5 years the number of jobs has stayed about the same.
Little change in the number of jobs is expected in the future. New jobs and turnover from workers leaving may create between 5,001 and 10,000 job openings over the 5 years to 2020.

  • Agricultural, Forestry & Horticultural Operators work in most parts of Australia.
  • They mainly work in: Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing; Public Administration and Safety; and Manufacturing.
  • Full-time work is very common. Full-time workers, on average, work 44.2 hours per week (compared to the all jobs average of 40 hours).
  • Average earnings for full-time workers are around $975 per week (below the all jobs average of $1,230). Earnings tend to be lower when starting out and higher as experience grows.
  • The average age is 39 years (compared to the all jobs average of 40 years).
  • More than 9 in 10 workers are male.
  • In 2016, the unemployment rate was similar to the average.

Employment Outlook

Number of Workers

Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, Department of Employment trend data to November 2015 and Department of Employment projections to 2020.
YearNumber of Workers
200512700
200612500
200716300
200813600
200912000
201013300
201116300
201215100
201314300
201414400
201513600
202013700

Weekly Earnings

Full-time Earnings

All Jobs Average

Weekly Earnings (before tax)

Source: Based on ABS Characteristics of Employment survey, August 2015, Cat. No. 6333.0, Customised Report. Median earnings are before tax and do not include superannuation. 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.
EarningsAgricultural, Forestry and Horticultural OperatorsAll Jobs Average
Full-Time Earnings9751230

Hours

Weekly Hours Worked

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Hours actually worked by people who usually work full-time, and share of employment by full-time and part-time status, for this job compared to the all jobs average.
CategoryAgricultural, Forestry and Horticultural OperatorsAll Jobs Average
Full-time82.968.4
Part-time17.131.6
Average Weekly Hours (full-time)44.240

Main Industries

Top Industries

Main Employing Industries (% share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Industries are based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC 06).
Main Employing IndustriesIndustry (% share)
Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing80.5
Public Administration and Safety7.3
Manufacturing5.7
Administrative and Support Services3.8
Other Industries2.7

States and Territories

  • NSW

  • VIC

  • QLD

  • SA

  • TAS

  • NT

  • ACT

Employment by State and Territory (% share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Share of workers across Australian States and Territories, in this job compared to the all jobs average.
StateAgricultural, Forestry and Horticultural OperatorsAll Jobs Average
NSW21.331.8
VIC31.225.5
QLD20.119.8
SA14.56.8
WA8.411.2
TAS4.12
NT0.31.1
ACT0.31.8

Age Profile

Age Profile (% share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Age profile of workers in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Age BracketAgricultural, Forestry and Horticultural OperatorsAll Jobs AverageAll Jobs Average
15-199.4-5.45.4
20-2410.3-9.99.9
25-3417.3-23.423.4
35-4422.1-21.721.7
45-5420.3-21.121.1
55-595.9-8.78.7
60-643.8-5.95.9
65 and Over10.7-3.83.8

Gender

Male Share

Female Share

Gender (% share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Male and female share of employment in this job compared to the all jobs average.
CategoryAgricultural, Forestry and Horticultural OperatorsCategoryAll Jobs Average
Males92.9Males53.6
Females7.1Females46.4

Education Level

Top Education Levels

Highest Level of Education (% share)

Source: ABS, Education and Work (2016). Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data. Highest qualification completed by workers in this job (in any field of study). Skill level requirements can change over time, the qualifications needed by new workers might be different from the qualifications of workers already in the job.
Type of QualificationAgricultural, Forestry and Horticultural OperatorsAll Jobs AverageAll Jobs Average
Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate0-8.68.6
Bachelor degree0-17.917.9
Advanced Diploma/Diploma0-10.110.1
Certificate III/IV23-18.918.9
Year 126.7-18.718.7
Years 11 & 1042.4-17.717.7
Below Year 1027.9-8.18.1

A Certificate II or III, or at least 1 year of relevant experience, is usually needed to work in this job.
Around two in five workers have Years 11 and 10 as their highest level of education. Even with a qualification, sometimes experience or on-the-job training is necessary. Registration or licensing may be required.

If you are interested in this style of work, there are a wide range of training options available that could lead to this or a similar job.
The pathway that is right for you will depend on your skills and interests.

It is a good idea to speak to industry bodies, employers, and workers to learn more about the skills and qualifications you will need.

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.

Knowledge

The topics, subjects, or knowledge areas workers rate as most important are shown below.

  1. Food Production

    92% Important

    Planting, growing, and harvesting food (both plant and animal), including storage and handling.

  2. Personnel and Human Resources

    73% Important

    Recruiting and training people. Managing pay and other entitlements like sick and holiday leave. Negotiating pay and conditions.

  3. Chemistry

    71% Important

    Chemical composition, structure, and properties. How chemicals are made, used, mixed, and can change. Danger signs and disposal methods.

  4. Administration and Management

    69% Important

    Planning and coordination of people and resources.

  5. English Language

    68% Important

    English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

Occupational Information Network Agricultural Equipment Operators Opens in a new window
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. The information on this site is derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2

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.

Activities

The work activities workers rate as most important are shown below.

  1. Controlling Machines and Processes

    88% Important

    Operate machines or processes either directly or using controls (not including computers or vehicles).

  2. Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material

    88% Important

    Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials for errors, problems or defects.

  3. Operating Vehicles or Equipment

    87% Important

    Running, manoeuvring, navigating, or driving things like forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or water craft.

  4. Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment

    87% Important

    Servicing, repairing, adjusting, and testing mechanical machines, devices, moving parts, and equipment.

  5. Handling and Moving Objects

    72% Important

    Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.

Occupational Information Network Agricultural Equipment Operators Opens in a new window
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. The information on this site is derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2

go to top