Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

Occupation Outlook | Main MBIE Site

Farmers and Farm Managers

Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

Demand for new entrants into these occupations will grow as the current ageing workforce retires. Farming also offers numerous opportunities to gain skills and qualifications as you work. Demand will grow as the current ageing workforce retires.

Farm manager positions are limited for those without substantial work experience, but opportunities are good for farmers and farm managers with qualifications and experience, particularly because of the increasing technological and data-based nature of the role.

How to become a farm manager

What they do

Farmers and farm managers are responsible for planning, management and day-to-day running of farms. Farmers own the land they farm, whereas farm managers manage farms for farm owners.

There are many types of farmers and farm managers growing and raising many types of crops and animals - including aquaculture, fruit, grapes, vegetables, beef, dairy, sheep and other livestock.

Their tasks may include:

  • planning and coordinating the operation of hatcheries and crop production
  • breeding and raising livestock and aquatic stock
  • monitoring and maintaining the health of stock
  • identifying and controlling environmental toxins, weeds, pests and diseases
  • organising and conducting farming operations such as maintaining buildings, water supply systems and equipment
  • managing business capital, monitoring market activity and planning production to meet contract requirements and market demand.

Qualifications needed

Aside from experience, there are no formal entry requirements for farming. However, farmers are increasingly completing post-school qualifications. This is because farmers increasingly need good technical and business skills.

Types of farming qualifications vary greatly across the industry, depending on a person’s chosen field, (for example, sheep and beef or dairy farming). All forms of study are likely to improve employment chances. A growing number of farmers and farm managers are completing degree courses such as a Bachelor of Agricultural Science or Bachelor of AgriCommerce at Massey and Lincoln Universities, and a mix of private training establishments and some polytechnics provide training across the range of levels.

The National Certificate in Agriculture (Level 4), Diploma in Agribusiness Management (Level 5), and Diploma in Agriculture (Level 5) are also useful qualifications.

Once you are employed in agriculture, a wide range of qualifications and pathways to learning are offered through the Primary ITO, from entry-level courses for those just starting out, to high-level management courses.

Farm-related courses tend to involve both practical skills and theory. Further information on qualifications pathways is found on the Primary ITO website.

Primary ITO:

Cost of study

Certificate in Agriculture (Level 5)Bachelor's Degree in Agriculture
$ 5,500 over 27 – 47 weeks $21,000 over three years


Average costs in 2018 for a domestic student. Costs vary between institutions. First time students may be eligible for  fees-free tertiary education for their first year of study, which will reduce the total cost. For more information about fees-free eligibility, go to Further costs include materials, textbooks, and accommodation.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.

Tenancy Services: 

Where to study

There are a number of training providers across New Zealand offering courses in farm-related work. To see the range of courses available, see the Careers NZ website.

Careers NZ:

Completed qualifications

The number of students completing  qualifications in Agriculture has floated around 400 per year since 2012. The number completing a bachelor’s degree in agriculture hasflustuated over the last few years, while the number completing a diploma has been stable.

Completed qualifications chart

Source: Ministry of Education

Income and employment prospects


According to the 2016/17 Federated Farmers/Rabobank Farm Employee Remuneration Summary Report, the following average remuneration (salary + benefits*) can be found in farm management roles in the primary sector:

Dairy farm manager - $70,400

Sheep/Beef farm manager - $69,000

*Farm managers may also be offered other benefits as part of an employment package, such as free or subsidised accommodation or housing.

Estimated Average Income

Estimated average income for farm manager roles in dairy, sheep/beef and grains, from Federated Farmers/Rabobank Farm Employee Remuneration Survey 2016.

Employment and skill shortages

Farmers and farm managers’ employment

HistoricProjected Growth
2006 2013 2021 2026
620.4 58,380 47,810 44,490
  -0.9% -3.3% -1.2%

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
*Growth projections are for the category “Farmers and Farm Managers”

Employment numbers for farmers declined slightly between 2006 and 2013. Farm consolidation - where farms have joined to become larger units have in part led to a forecast decline in overall numbers of farmers and farm managers out to 2026. The large increase in the number of farmers and farm managers who are retiring or planning to retire also explains in large part why job opportunities are currently good for farmers and farm managers with qualifications and experience. 

Employment chart

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections

Outcomes after qualification completion*

OverseasIn further studyReceiving a benefitIn employmentMedian Salary
8% 21% 2% 83% $58,000

Source: Tertiary Education Commission
*Three years after completion of a bachelor's degree - Agriculture.

Most graduates were either in employment, with a few overseas three years after completing a bachelor's degree in Agriculture. The median salary was around $58,000.

A variety of farmer/farm manager roles appear on Immigration New Zealand's Immediate Skill Shortage List, including:

  • Market gardener (All regions)
  • Pig farmer (All regions)
  • Apiarist (All regions)
  • Beef cattle farmer (All regions)
  • Dairy cattle farmer (All regions)
  • Poultry farmer (Auckland/Upper North Island, Waikato/Bay of Plenty, Central North Island, Canterbury/ Upper South Island).

If a job appears on the skill shortage list, it means the government is actively encouraging skilled people in the role to come and work in New Zealand. A full list is available on the Immigration New Zealand website:

Immigration NZ, skill shortage list:

Where to find job vacancies

Since 2013, the number of online job vacancies for livestock farmers has increasedrapidly, and much more rapidly than all occupations. This should mean that it has become easier to find a job as a livestock farmer during recent years.

Jobs advertised chart

Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment

Farming vacancies are advertised through websites such as Trade Me Jobs, Seek, Federated Farmers or Farmers Weekly.

Trade Me Jobs: 
Federated Farmers: 
Farmers Weekly:

Career path

Farming offers good long-term career progression. There are many pathways in farming, with specialisation in areas like breeding, raising and caring for livestock, growing crops, and managing staff, equipment and machinery. As well, there are good prospects for farm managers, as they can work towards owning their own farm.

Related occupations

The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry-level farmers and farm managers.

  • Agricultural/Horticultural Consultant
  • Apiarist
  • Aquaculture Farmer
  • Beekeeper
  • Crop Farmer
  • Dairy Farmer
  • Fish Farmer
  • Flower Grower
  • Grape Grower
  • Horse Breeder
  • Livestock Farmer
  • Market Gardener
  • Mixed Crop Grower

Other information


More information on farm managers is available on the Careers New Zealand website.

Careers New Zealand:

The following websites also have useful information on working in the primary sector:

Land Your Dream Job: 
NZ Young Farmers:
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Amenity Horticulture
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Aquaculture
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Arboriculture
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Dairy Farming - Management and Research
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Dairy Farming
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Dairy Farming
Just the Job video clip: A Career in the Equine Industry
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Fruit Production
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Nursery Production (Horticulture)
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Rural Contracting
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Salmon Farming
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Sheep and Beef Farming
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Sheep and Beef Farming
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Vegetable Production
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Viticulture


The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.

The occupation of farmers and farm managers has been coded to the following ANZSCO codes for the purpose of this report:

121 – Farmers and Farm Managers
234111 – Agricultural Consultant