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Career profile Agricultural Equipment Operator

Also known as Baler Operator, Cutter Operator, Equipment Operator, Farm Equipment Operator, Hay Baler, Loader Operator, Packing Tractor Machine Operator, Rake Operator, Sprayer, Windrower Operator

Agricultural Equipment Operator

Also known as Baler Operator, Cutter Operator, Equipment Operator

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
  • Investigative
Pay Range
$21,860 - $47,890 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Operation and Control
  • Operations Monitoring
  • Troubleshooting
Knowledge Areas
  • Mechanical
  • Public Safety and Security
  • Mathematics
Core tasks
  • 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.
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What does an Agricultural Equipment Operator do?

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.

In addition, Agricultural Equipment Operators

  • 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.

What kind of tasks does an Agricultural Equipment Operator perform regularly?

Agricultural Equipment Operators are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • 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.
  • Manipulate controls to set, activate, and adjust mechanisms on machinery.
  • 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.
  • Attach farm implements such as plows, discs, sprayers, or harvesters to tractors, using bolts and hand tools.

The above responsibilities are specific to Agricultural Equipment Operators. More generally, Agricultural Equipment Operators are involved in several broader types of activities:

Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment
Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or watercraft.
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials
Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
Handling and Moving Objects
Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
Controlling Machines and Processes
Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).

What is an Agricultural Equipment Operator salary?

The median salary for an Agricultural Equipment Operator is $32,750, and the average salary is $34,070. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Agricultural Equipment Operator salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Agricultural Equipment Operators earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Agricultural Equipment Operators earn less than $21,860 per year, 25% earn less than $27,850, 75% earn less than $39,340, and 90% earn less than $47,890.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Agricultural Equipment Operators is expected to change by 12.9%, and there should be roughly 11,700 open positions for Agricultural Equipment Operators every year.

Median annual salary
$32,750
Typical salary range
$21,860 - $47,890
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
12.9%

What personality traits are common among Agricultural Equipment Operators?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as an Agricultural Equipment Operator are usually higher in their Realistic interests.

Agricultural Equipment Operators typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as an Agricultural Equipment Operator tend to value Support, Independence, and Achievement.

Most importantly, Agricultural Equipment Operators moderately value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Second, Agricultural Equipment Operators somewhat value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Lastly, Agricultural Equipment Operators somewhat value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Agricultural Equipment Operators must consistently demonstrate qualities such as persistence, dependability, and cooperation.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Agricultural Equipment Operators, ranked by importance:

Persistence
Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Cooperation
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Independence
Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.

What education and training do Agricultural Equipment Operators need?

Working as an Agricultural Equipment Operator may require a high school diploma or GED certificate.

Agricultural Equipment Operators need anywhere from a few days to a few months of training. Usually, an experienced worker could show you how to do the job.

Educational degrees among Agricultural Equipment Operators

  • 49.9% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 28.0% completed high school or secondary school
  • 10.6% completed some college coursework
  • 4.0% earned a Associate's degree
  • 6.2% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 0.9% earned a Master's degree
  • 0.3% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Agricultural Equipment Operators

Agricultural Equipment Operators may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as mechanical, public safety and security, or mathematics knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Agricultural Equipment Operators might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Mechanical
Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Public Safety and Security
Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Mathematics
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Transportation
Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
Production and Processing
Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.

Important Abilities needed by Agricultural Equipment Operators

Agricultural Equipment Operators must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Agricultural Equipment Operators need abilities such as control precision, multilimb coordination, and near vision in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Agricultural Equipment Operators, ranked by their relative importance.

Control Precision
The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
Multilimb Coordination
The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.
Near Vision
The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Far Vision
The ability to see details at a distance.

Critical Skills needed by Agricultural Equipment Operators

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Agricultural Equipment Operators frequently use skills like operation and control, operations monitoring, and troubleshooting to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Agricultural Equipment Operators, ranked by their relative importance.

Operation and Control
Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
Operations Monitoring
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Troubleshooting
Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Equipment Maintenance
Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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