dairy farming

Stepping stones to a rewarding career

Career pathways in dairy farming

Australian dairy is a $13 billion farm, manufacturing and export industry. The Australian dairy industry has a farmgate value of $4 billion and it enriches regional Australian communities.

‘Milk Production’ and ‘Milk Harvesting’ show different career pathways (job roles and qualifications) for each sector.

Australia’s 6,700 dairy farmers produce around 9.5 billion litres of milk a year. The Australian dairy industry directly employs 43,000 Australians on farms and in factories, while more than 100,000 Australians are indirectly employed in related service industries.

As the national herd size increases to meet demand, there will be additional opportunities for jobs on farms and in companies servicing farms. Often employees progress to become sharefarmers, receiving an agreed proportion of the income in return for inputs such as labour and cows.

Opportunities exist in gene technology, embryo transfer and artificial insemination as the sector aims for increased milk production. Competent and skilled people are required in the sector including dairy farmhands, tradespersons and artificial insemination technicians through to supervisors and managers.

* Source acknowledgement: Dairy Australia

Jobs and qualifications

Farmhand Assistant Certificate I in Rural Operations »
Farmhand Certificate II in Agriculture »
Tradesperson Certificate III in Agriculture (Dairy Production) »
Supervisor Certificate IV in Agriculture »
Farm Manager Diploma of Agriculture or Rural Business Management »
Farm Owner/Manager Advanced Diploma of Agriculture or Rural Business Management »
Farmhand Assistant

Dairy farm assistant jobs are usually at the beginning of a career in the dairy industry. Work under direct supervision includes milking, operating farm vehicles and equipment, assisting in livestock management, and helping with general farm duties, such as fencing and farm maintenance.


A dairy farmhand will be involved in a wide range of tasks with limited supervision. Tasks include animal husbandry procedures and handling, moving and drafting livestock, pest control and application of chemicals, fencing, irrigation and farm maintenance, simple testing procedures and administration duties.


A dairy tradesperson carries out a wide range of dairy farm operations, including supervising milking procedures, crop establishment and fodder conservation. Duties will cover animal husbandry programs, the installation, operation and service of water supply and irrigation systems, operating a waste system and implementing sustainable land use practices, and communications with dairy industry organisations, suppliers, consultants and contractors.


A dairy supervisor has responsibility for a number of workers and a range of dairy farm activities including. These include monitoring dairy herd health and overseeing milking, staff supervision and training, pasture and crop management, supervision of machinery and equipment use,and maintenance and budget and stock control.

Farm Manager

A dairy farm manager is likely to have significant responsibilities in managing dairy production activities. This will include property planning and management, livestock breeding and production, staff management and business planning and operations.

Farm Owner/Manager

A dairy farm owner-manager has the primary responsibility for ensuring that the dairy enterprise is successfully managed. These responsibilities include whole farm planning and management, managing production systems, marketing products and strategic planning and financial management.