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Tractor driver Agricultural machinery operator, combine harvester driver, crop sprayer

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Tractor drivers operate farm machinery used to plough fields, plant seeds, and spray and harvest crops. 

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £16,000 to £30,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 40 to 48 per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set entry requirements but experience in farming or dairying could be useful. A knowledge of basic mechanics might also be helpful.

You’ll need a Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) card to operate some machinery. You may be able to train for this on the job or at an agricultural college.
You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

Industry body Lantra has more information about farming careers.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • good timekeeping
  • the ability to follow instructions
  • practical skills 

3. What you'll do

You’ll be:  

  • discussing work schedules with the farm manager
  • carrying out equipment and machinery checks
  • inputting instructions into the cab’s control panels
  • ploughing fields and sowing seeds
  • spraying crops with fertilisers and pesticides
  • harvesting vegetable, cereal and non-food crops
  • using baling machines to bind crops and hay ready for storage
  • maintaining hedges and roadside verges with tractor cutting attachments
  • carrying out basic maintenance and repairs

4. Salary

Starter: £16,000 to £19,000

Experienced: £20,000 to £25,000

Highly Experienced: £25,000 to £30,000

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually work between 40 and 48 hours a week. Seasonal contracts are common, with long working days during busy periods like harvest time.

The job can be dusty and physically demanding.

You’ll spend a lot of time working alone in the cab. Your employer will provide safety equipment for certain jobs like crop spraying.

6. Career path and progression

You can take further training to operate a wider range of machinery, which will increase your job prospects.

With experience, you could become an agricultural contractor, machinery engineer or farm manager. 

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Last updated: 11 September 2018