Turn your dairy job into a dairy career

Experience on a dairy farm can lead to a rewarding career and pathways to many other industry careers. There is on-the-job training and learning available, career possibilities, and many types of jobs with the potential to earn more. There’s plenty of networking opportunities with the Young Dairy Network and other farmer discussion groups. 

If you’re ready to find work, view vacancies on the Dairy Farm Jobs Board.

Explore this page to find information about on-the-job training and learning.

The sky’s the limit with a job in dairy

The diagram below shows the different entry points into a career in dairy, from school leaver, or new career seekers, the sky’s the limit really. It can take you all the way to owning or leasing your own dairy farm.



You can receive training on the job and more formally – hear how these dairy farmers have learnt the ropes. 

Discover your earning potential on farm

Your salary will be dictated by your skillset and experience. Read the table below to get an idea of where you might start out and the opportunity for growth via relevant training programs. These are the current minimum pay rates under the award and your specific rate will vary depending on the farm you choose to work at. It should be noted that many dairy farm workers are paid above the award payments listed below.

Classification Title Training Required Adult Full-time Weekly rate (100%) Adult Part-time Hourly Rate Casual Hourly (125%)

Farm and Livestock hand level 1 (FLH1)
Dairy operator grade 1A with less than 12 months experience in the industry who:

  • Uses their knowledge and skills to perform set procedures such as milking and attending to livestock, haymaking, fencing

Assistant farm hand (works under supervision)
This category is for people who are involved in a general range of farming tasks and working under supervision

Certificate II

$859.30 $22.61 $28.26

Farm and Livestock hand level 3 (FLH3)
Dairy operator grade 1B with 12 months experience in the industry who:

  • Uses their knowledge and skills to perform set procedures such as milking and attending to livestock, haymaking, fencing

Farm hand (works under limited supervision)
This category is for people who are skilled or unskilled in a range of farming operations and work either independently or as part of a team

Certificate III

$895.00  $23.55 $29.44

Farm and Livestock Hand level 5 (FLH5)
An employee at this level includes Dairy Operator Grade 2 who:

  • Has two years’ experience in the industry
  • Uses their knowledge and skills to multiple operations involving basic levels of problem solving and decision making and
  • Has an appreciation of the overall processes involved in a dairy farm

Senior farm hand
This category is for skilled people working either independently or as part of a team

Certificate IV




Farm and Livestock Hand Level 7 (FLH7)
An employee at this level includes Senior Dairy operator grade 1 who:

  • Uses their knowledge and skills to coordinate the operation of a farm process or area of expertise e.g. milking and animal attendance, pasture and farm maintenance, breeding programs and artificial insemination area.

Production Manager (implements policy and sets tactics)
People in this role have significant responsibilities in managing production activities on a dairy farm. Dairy farm production managers demonstrate broad industry knowledge and advanced technical skills


$995.00   $26.18 $32.73 

Farm and Livestock Hand Level 8 (FLH8)
An employee at this level includes Senior dairy operator grade 2 who:

  • Under the direction of the owner or manager uses their expertise and skills in order to supervise and maintain the operation of a dairy farm

Senior Production Manager (Farm Supervisor) - (supervises staff and reports to management)
People in roles of this category have responsibility for staff and various production activities on the farm.
A supervisor is expected to carry out some business management activities like monitoring Work Health & Safety in the workplace, preparing operating budgets and supervising work routines of others. A senior production manager uses industry knowledge and may be asked to solve a range of problems.


$1069.10  $28.13 $35.16 

Award-free Business Manager

Business Manager (sets policy)
People in roles in this category have significant responsibility for ensuring the dairy enterprise is managed successfully. They are expected to demonstrate extensive industry knowledge, technical skills, and business management principles in order to perform this complex role.

Advanced Diploma




Explore the soft and hard skills required to be a dairy farmer

Dairy farms are an essential service that produce quality food for the world. There are casual, part-time, and full-time jobs currently available on farm, and it's like you've already got the skills we need! You may have technical or generic skills acquired from previous work experience that would be highly valued and easily adapted to a dairy farm. These are called transferable or portable hard and soft skills that can be applied from one job to another. Here are some examples.

Hard Skills

  • Working with livestock
  • Pasture management
  • Vehicle or machinery maintenance
  • Computer software

Soft Skills

  • Problem solving
  • Teamwork
  • Flexibility
  • Time management

Working on a dairy farm involves:

  • Working in a team and following instructions
  • Working outside in a rural environment
  • Working to routines
  • Working with and caring for animals
  • Working with machinery
  • Working physically and intellectually

Watch the video  below to hear the types of skills you can learn on a dairy farm

Learn what it takes to build a career in dairy farming

Watch the video below of dairy farmers across the country talk about how you can build a career in dairy, the skills needed and the flexibility that jobs in dairy provide.

Progressing through different dairy roles

Watch the video below of Sarah Cornell, Regional Project Lead for Workforce Attraction at Dairy Australia from Gippsland, Victoria talk about how you can build a career in dairy, the salary benefits, skills needed and the flexibility that jobs in dairy provides.

Milker and Apprentice Alexz talks training

Meet Alexz Crawford, Milker and Apprentice from Brundee, New South Wales. Alexz completed a Certificate IV and Diploma of Agriculture through Tocal Agricultural College in the second year of his apprenticeship. He has the flexibility to study and continue his job on farm to hone his practical skills.



Alexz enjoys his job because every day is different. He believes to work on a farm, a person must have good communication skills, be reliable, responsible and open to learning. Alexz has a good working relationship with the Farm Owners and their three employees, whom he continues to learn from. "I study in a one-week block, once every six weeks at college. It’s both practical and theoretical – you’re always learning and picking up new things."

Dairy leadership opportunities

NSW Dairy Farmer Pat Buckley is building his leadership capability by undertaking an online leadership course. Watch the video below, where Pat shares how developing effective communication through the course has benefited his farm team by ensuring they work together to achieve long-term business goals.


Networking opportunities – Young Dairy Network

The Young Dairy Network is a great opportunity to meet and connect with other people working in dairy. It provides great support for people new to the dairy industry. More than 2,500 young dairy professionals have joined the Young Dairy Network – gaining access to training, farm walks, social events, workshops, leadership programs, industry connections and more.

Each region's Young Dairy Network helps its members develop professionally – while ensuring they are supported nationally via a forum for sharing information, exchanging ideas and staying connected.

“By joining the Young Dairy Network, you will connect with other young dairy professionals, established farmers, and industry service providers – helping you move forward in the industry. The Young Dairy Network is great for people who are in the same position that I’m in and trying to make a career in the industry.”- Hayden A, Farmhand

Assistant Farm Manager, Travis' Tips

Meet Travis Hall, Assistant Farm Manager from Wokalup, Western Australia. Travis ensures the farm is run smoothly and oversees casual employees. Travis has some insightful tips for those who are interested in starting a job in dairy. 


Travis' tips:
  • If you want to get into dairy, visit a farm and learn how to milk – it’s the basis of all dairy jobs and you can see if you like it
  • Show people how passionate you are – it opens doors
  • Keep your eyes open, read industry magazines and research: learn about cows, whether it’s breeding, feeding or new technology
  • Network and build a group of friends. I have a list of people - not just for helping out on the farm – but also if I’ve had a hard day, we can catch up, talk and relax.

Ashleigh talks training, extension programs and networking

Since her first day on farm, Ashleigh Rood has been involved in training courses, extension programs and industry networks which have helped her to develop knowledge, skills and connections. Hear from Ashleigh about her involvement in the dairy community.

Collaboration with education providers

Dairy Australia works with TAFEs and other registered training providers to develop courses for those interested in furthering a career in dairy, or to build skills for people working on farms.

Courses include education for on-farm skills like milking processes and mastitis prevention, to pasture management and farm business management.

Starting a new job in dairy farming

A dairy farming career can take you anywhere.

Whether it is growing your skills, travelling the world, owning your own business, or just doing something you love every day, dairy farming presents many work and life opportunities.

Bringing together people, animals, technology and the environment, dairy farming offers a meaningful role for everyone.

Want to learn more? View our learning modules to take a step through the farmgate and find out what it is like to work on-farm and be part of the dairy community 

Farm hands talk job skills

There’s much more to life on a dairy farm than milking cows! Farmers need more than 170 different skills to run a successful farm business. Explore some of the skills that these farmhands have learnt on the job, and what their future career goals are. 

Tahnee K

“Like many other young people in the dairy industry, my ideal long-term ambition involves carrying out roles that eventually lead to farm ownership, these positions include Herd or Farm Manager, followed by Share Farming or Leasing.” - Tahnee K, Farmhand

“Every day is quite different, I am required to complete a range of tasks to ensure the farm is run smoothly - from milking cows, feeding calves and driving tractors, to fencing and moving cattle. I like that the job is varied and believe the best aspects of the position are working with animals, being outdoors, driving tractors and working with machinery.”- Peta D, Farm hand

To be a successful Assistant Farmhand, a person must have good communication skills, be trustworthy and reliable. There are many opportunities to enter the industry and learn.” - Ben S, Farmhand

“Calf rearing is like looking after kids, it’s rewarding because you see them grow and progress into healthy cows. You have to be reliable because the calves need to be fed at the same time every day, so they can get into a routine." - Sarah R, Calf Rearer

“A lot of my work is in Human Resources - training people, doing rosters, recognising people’s strengths and the areas they are best suited to work in. Our farm departments each have a manager – herd, feed, paddock, dairy and calf. It’s my job to help out and make sure they reach their goals and meet budgets.” -  Victoria M, Farm Business Manager

Still discovering what it’s like to work on a dairy farm? Take a look at more content below.