General Farm Workers

(NOC 8431)

in All Farming, Fishing, Forestry, and Mining

General farm workers plant, cultivate, and harvest crops, raise livestock and poultry, and maintain and repair farm equipment and buildings. This group includes operators of farm machinery. General farm workers work for crop, livestock, fruit and vegetable, and specialty farms. General farm workers can become specialized in a crop or livestock production through experience.

Job Outlook

Average

Read more

  • Estimate Decline employment change, 2019-2021
  • Estimate 20 openings due to growth and retirements, 2018-2020
  • Estimate Moderate rate of unemployment in 2019

Compared to: All Farming, Fishing, Forestry, and Mining

  • Estimate -415 employment change, 2019-2021
  • Estimate 355 openings due to growth and retirements, 2018-2020
  • Estimate rate of unemployment not available for these occupation.

Overall, this occupation has not been severely impacted by the pandemic, where the food supply is considered an essential service. Due to a chronic shortage of local workers in this occupation, many employers hire Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs). At the outset of the pandemic, the closure of the Canadian border created uncertainty for employers and resulted in some delays and complications in international hiring. TFWs were eventually allowed to enter the country, though some employers may have ended up with a smaller complement of staff than usual. Living quarters provided to general farm workers are also subject to physical distancing and heightened sanitization requirements.

Many employers experience consistent difficulty in finding enough general farm workers to hire. Jobseekers interested in this occupation should be able to find employment with ease. Positions are mainly found in the Annapolis Valley region. The shortage of workers may become more severe in future years, as seniors currently make up much of the local labour supply for some employers. As these workers retire, a larger share of employment will likely need to be sourced from the TFW program. Physically demanding conditions, low wages and the seasonal nature of this occupation contribute to the lack of supply of labour. Consolidation of farms and the automation of tasks over time can gradually reduce the demand for labourers. However, two major crops in the Annapolis Valley—apples and the rapidly expanding vineyard sector—remain labour intensive.

The median employment income for the 27% of General Farm Workers who worked full-time, year-round in 2015 was $40,938. Across all occupations in Nova Scotia, the 59% of those who worked full-time, year-round had a median employment income of $43,600. (Source: 2016 Census)

Hourly Pay

$12.95

Minimum

$15.00

Median

$19.00

Maximum

Annual Pay

$907

Minimum

$12,859

Median

$41,110

Maximum

Compared to: All Farming, Fishing, Forestry, and Mining

Hourly Pay

$12.55

Minimum

$24.84

Median

$32.00

Maximum

Annual Pay

$4,009

Minimum

$23,520

Median

$87,170

Maximum

About the job

Nature of work

General farm workers plant, cultivate, and harvest crops, raise livestock and poultry, and maintain and repair farm equipment and buildings. This group includes operators of farm machinery. General farm workers work for crop, livestock, fruit and vegetable, and specialty farms. General farm workers can become specialized in a crop or livestock production through experience.

Job duties

General farm workers:

  • Plant, fertilize, cultivate, spray, irrigate and harvest crops.
  • Feed and tend livestock and poultry.
  • Milk cows.
  • Use and maintain farm machinery and equipment.
  • Detect disease and health problems in crops, livestock, and poultry.
  • Examine produce for quality and prepare for market.
  • Set and monitor water lines, air flow and temperature in barns, pens, and chicken coops.
  • Clean stables, barns, barnyards, and pens.

Sample job titles

  • beekeeping technician
  • egg grader
  • farm equipment operator
  • farm labourer
  • farm worker
  • field and vegetable crop labourer
  • hatchery worker
  • livestock labourer
  • vineyard worker

Skills

You should enjoy working outdoors. You should have good health, physical stamina, and strength. You must also be able to take direction and carry out instructions given by a supervisor.

Job requirements

  • There is no specific education or training requirements. However, a college certificate or specialized courses related to farming like farm equipment mechanics, agricultural welding, tree pruning and pesticide application, are available.
  • A course or certificate in first aid may be required.

Other considerations

Basic farm knowledge, usually learned by working on a family farm, may be required for employment. Progression to supervisory positions is possible with experience.

By the numbers

Quick look

3,030

employed in 2016

65.7%

employed full-time

11.1%

self employed

30.9%
Icons/female Created with Sketch.
69.1%
Icons/male Created with Sketch.
38.2

median age

Compared to: All Farming, Fishing, Forestry, and Mining

14,665

employed in 2016

78.0%

employed full-time

20.0%

self employed

15.1%
Icons/female Created with Sketch.
84.9%
Icons/male Created with Sketch.
44.6

median age

Where will I likely work?

37.2%

Annapolis Valley

29.4%

North Shore

19.4%

Southern

9.4%

Halifax

4.6%

Cape Breton

Compared to: All NS Occupations

47.0%

Halifax

15.6%

North Shore

12.9%

Annapolis Valley

12.7%

Cape Breton

11.8%

Southern

Top Industries of Employment

90.0%

Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting

2.8%

Manufacturing

1.5%

Educational services

1.0%

Health care and social assistance

1.0%

Arts, entertainment and recreation

What is the age of Employment?

34.0%

15-24

18.0%

55-64

13.0%

45-54

13.0%

35-44

12.0%

25-34

11.0%

65+

Compared to: All Farming, Fishing, Forestry, and Mining

20.7%

45-54

19.8%

15-24

19.2%

55-64

16.2%

35-44

14.8%

25-34

Top levels of education

38.6%

Less than high school

$9,635 median annual income
32.7%

High school

$14,467 median annual income
10.6%

College Diploma

$15,176 median annual income
9.7%

Apprenticeship

$17,563 median annual income
5.3%

Bachelor

$10,461 median annual income

Compared to: All Farming, Fishing, Forestry, and Mining

35.7%

Less than high school

$23,463 median annual income
30.8%

High school

$19,301 median annual income
13.7%

College Diploma

$29,551 median annual income
13.4%

Apprenticeship

$31,535 median annual income
4.4%

Bachelor

$17,956 median annual income

Education & training

Adult High School Siploma or Equivalent

High School Program

The Nova Scotia School for Adult Learning (NSSAL) administers, coordinates, and supports the development and delivery of adult education programs through learning partners in Nova Scotia. Our learning partners include the Nova Scotia Community College, Adult High Schools, Université Sainte-Anne, and community-based learning organizations that offer tuition-free programming across the province. NSSAL offers clear, accessible pathways from adult basic education to a high school credential or GED, empowering Nova Scotians to achieve their learning and employment goals.

Institutions providing this program

Universite Sainte-Anne

Pointe-de-l'Église, NS

Nova Scotia Community College - Adult Learning

Various, NS

Adult High Schools

Various, NS

Community Learning Organizations

Various, NS

Agriculture - General

College, Trades, or University Program

These programs focus on agricultural research and production. They include courses in basic animal, plant, and soil science, animal husbandry and plant cultivation, soil conservation, and agricultural operations like farming, ranching, and agricultural business.

Institutions providing this program

Dalhousie University Faculty of Agriculture

Truro, NS

Horse Husbandry/Equine Science and Management

College or Trades Program

These programs prepare students to manage the selection, breeding, care, and maintenance of horses, and horse farms, stables, tracks and related equipment and operations. They include courses in animal science, care, and health, stable and track management, design and operation of facilities and equipment, and related issues like regulations, business management, and logistics.

Institutions providing this program

Dalhousie University Faculty of Agriculture

Truro, NS

Landscaping and Groundskeeping

College, Trades, or University Program

These programs prepare students to manage and maintain indoor and/or outdoor ornamental and recreational plants and groundcovers and related designs created by landscape architects, interior designers, enterprise owners or managers, and individual clients. They include courses in applicable principles of horticulture, gardening, plant and soil irrigation and nutrition, turf maintenance, plant maintenance, equipment operation and maintenance, personnel supervision, and purchasing.

Institutions providing this program

Dalhousie University Faculty of Agriculture

Truro, NS

Nova Scotia Community College - Kingstec Campus

Kentville, NS

Livestock Management

College, Trades, or University Program

These programs apply biological and chemical principles to the production and management of livestock animals and the production and handling of meat and other products. They include courses in animal sciences, range science, nutrition sciences, food science and technology, biochemistry, and related aspects of human and animal health and safety.

Institutions providing this program

Dalhousie University

Halifax, NS

Specialized Sales, Merchandising and Marketing Operations - Other

College, Trades, or University Program

This includes any program not listed elsewhere that relates to Specialized Sales, Merchandising and Marketing Operations.

Institutions providing this program

Nova Scotia Community College - Kingstec Campus

Kentville, NS

Employment requirements & contacts

No regulating bodies were found under this occupation profile

Contacts

Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture
Halifax, NS
Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture
East Mountain, NS

Additional resources

There are no additional resources for this occupation.