Job Prospects... At a glance
Job prospects are good for shearers during the peak of the shearing season. However, it can be difficult to get work throughout the year, particularly for inexperienced workers. All in all, wage levels are average but employment is projected to grow out to 2024.
Shearers remove wool from sheep, using electric or manual clippers. Sometimes they also shear other animals such as goats and alpacas.
There are no entry requirements to work as a shearer. Most skills are learned on the job. Formal qualifications are becoming more common in the industry and there are certificates available.
Shearers who want a formal qualification can become apprentices and complete the New Zealand Certificate in Shearing (Blade/Crossbred/Fine). This certificate is available at Levels 3 and 4, and each level takes about 9-10 months to complete. This certificate is managed by the Primary ITO.
The New Zealand Apprenticeships scheme is available for anyone over the age of 16, and is subsidised by the government. More information on the scheme is on the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) website.
|New Zealand Certificate in Shearing (Level 3 & 4, Apprenticeship)|
There is a fee of $390 for each level of the certificate.
Rents vary from place to place. Estimated market rents by region, city and suburb are available on the MBIE Tenancy Services website.
The StudyLink website provides general budget advice for students, and the Sorted website provides help with detailed budget planning.
The Industry Training Organisation (ITO) that looks after training for shearers is the Primary ITO. It arranges apprenticeship training nationwide.
The number of students completing a Level 4 certificate in the broader category Agriculture has mostly been between 200 and 250 in recent years, but fell to 105 in 2015.
Qualification completions chart
Source: Ministry of Education
The annual income for shearers is estimated to be around $43,000. Shearers are usually paid per sheep, which means that skilled and experienced shearers can earn considerably more than inexperienced shearers.
|Estimated Average Income|
Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index
Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
* Growth projections are based on the category “Animal Attendants and Trainers, and Shearers”.
The number of shearers in employment fell by almost a quarter from 2006 to 2013. This trend is expected to reverse, and employment is projected to increase substantially out to 2025.
Shearers are usually employed on a casual basis. Their work is concentrated in the shearing season. This means that it can be hard to find work during less busy times of the year.
Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections
|Overseas||In further study||Receiving a benefit||In employment||Median Salary|
Source: Ministry of Education
*Two years after completion of L4 Certificate - Agriculture. ‘Overseas’ refers to the percentage of ALL graduates completing this qualification. Other indicators refer only to graduates living in New Zealand.
Two years after completing a Level 4 Certificate in Agriculture, most graduates were either in employment or further study. A very small percentage were overseas or receiving a benefit. The median salary two years after completion was around $35,000.
Shearers are not on Immigration New Zealand's skill shortage lists.
Immigration NZ, skill shortage list: skillshortages.immigration.govt.nz
Since 2008, the number of online job vacancies for shearers has increased faster than the average for all vacancies. This means that getting a job should be easier now than a few years ago.
Jobs advertised chart
Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment
Shearing vacancies are advertised through public media such as the Trade Me Jobs and Seek websites. Employment in this industry can also be found by proactive job searching.
There is no clear career path for shearers. One option is go into another farming-related occupation, for example, farm management. This usually requires further education.
The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry-level shearers.
More information on shearers is available on the Careers New Zealand website.
The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.
The occupation of shearers has been coded to the following ANZSCO code for their purpose of this report:
3612 – Shearers