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

  • $975 Weekly Pay
  • 13,300 workers Employment Size
  • Stable Future Growth
  • Lower skill Skill level rating
  • Higher unemployment Unemployment
  • 86.1% Full-Time Full-Time Share
  • 47.6 hours Average full-time
  • 44.5 years Average age
  • 7.9% female Gender Share

The number of Agricultural, Forestry & Horticultural Operators fell over the past 5 years and is expected to stay fairly stable over the next 5 years:
from 13,300 in 2017 to 13,300 by 2022.
There are likely to be around 9,000 job openings over this time from workers leaving and new jobs being created.

  • Size: This is a medium sized occupation.
  • Unemployment: Unemployment was above average in 2017.
  • Location: Agricultural, Forestry & Horticultural Operators work in most regions of Australia.
  • Industries: Most work in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing; Public Administration and Safety; and Wholesale Trade.
  • Earnings: Full-time workers earn 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.
  • Full-time: Most work full-time (86.1%, much higher than the all jobs average of 68.4%).
  • Hours: Full-time workers spend around 47.6 hours per week at work (compared to the all jobs average of 40.0 hours).
  • Age: The average age is 45 years (compared to the all jobs average of 40 years). Many workers are under 25 years of age (24.6%). Many workers are 45 years or older (50.4%).
  • Gender: 7.9% of workers are female (compared to the all jobs average of 46.7%).

Employment Outlook

Number of Workers

Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, Department of Jobs and Small Business trend data to May 2017 and Department of Jobs and Small Business projections to 2022.
YearNumber of Workers
200715500
200815600
200911600
201014100
201112700
201217200
201313600
201414900
201512500
201614000
201713300
202213300

Weekly Earnings

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

Main Industries

Main Employing Industries (% Share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2017, 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 Fishing74.2
Public Administration and Safety6.9
Wholesale Trade4.6
Manufacturing4.5
Other Industries9.8

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 2017, 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
NSW26.231.6
VIC29.826.2
QLD16.319.7
SA11.96.7
WA9.710.8
TAS5.72.0
NT0.21.1
ACT0.41.8

Age Profile

Age Profile (% Share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2017, 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
15-1911.4-5.25.2
20-2413.2-9.99.9
25-3417.2-23.623.6
35-447.8-21.721.7
45-5429.2-20.820.8
55-594.4-8.88.8
60-648.1-6.06.0
65 and Over8.7-4.04.0

Education Level

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.

Before starting a course, check it will provide you with the skills and qualifications you need.

  • Compare undergraduate and postgraduate student experiences and outcomes on the QILT website.
  • Compare Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses, providers and student outcomes on the My Skills website.
  • You might be interested in Agriculture, Horticulture and Conservation & Land Management VET training pathways on the AAPathways website.

The course listings on this page are provided by Good Education Group.

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

These are important topics, subjects or knowledge areas.

  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
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
The 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.

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

These are kinds of activities workers regularly do in this job.

  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
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
The 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.

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