grain crops

Stepping stones to a rewarding career

Career pathways in grain cropping

Grains, commonly referred to as ‘cereals’ or ‘cereal grains’, are the edible seeds of specific grasses belonging to the Poaceae (also known as Gramineae) family.

Wheat, oats and rice are the grains most commonly eaten in Australia, with others such as rye, barley, corn, triticale, millet and sorghum making a smaller contribution. See the section on types of grains for more details on their nutritional benefits.

Although the structures of the various cereal grains are different, there are some common features they all share, including the following layers:

  • Bran – the multi-layered outer skin of the grain which is rich in vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fibre
  • Endosperm – the food supply for the germ, which is dense in starchy carbohydrates and protein
  • Germ – the embryo, which contains the genetic material for a new plant, is abundant in essential fatty acids, vitamin E, B-group vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients

Grains and grain-based foods are a staples in the diets of cultures around the world, and have made an important contribution to daily nutrient requirements since cultivation began around 10,000 BC.

Their consumption is encouraged in dietary guidelines both in Australia and around the world for the significant contribution these foods make to nutrient intakes.

Grain is one of Australia’s major export earners and Australia is among the world’s largest wheat producer. The grain sector is a world leader in the use of technology to produce grain under a variety of climate and soil conditions.

To continue to hold its position as a world leader the grains sector needs competent and skilled people, from farm hands to plant operators, harvesters, combine harvester drivers and agronomists, farm managers and grain farmers.

Jobs and qualifications

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

Work in the grain industry at this entry level will involve routine tasks and manual duties under direct supervision and could include basic field duties, and machinery and equipment operations and maintenance.


Work at this level involves a wide range of farming tasks under limited supervision. These usually include operating tractors and equipment, undertaking irrigation activities, chemical applications, crop maintenance and farm maintenance.


A grains farmer will coordinate a wide range of farming tasks without supervision, such as irrigation operations and maintenance, harvesting; farm maintenance and machinery and equipment operation.

Farm Supervisor

A farm supervisor is responsible for the supervision and training of workers and grain farm activities. This includes supervising planting and crop maintenance activities, supervising staff and training, budget and stock control, and machinery and equipment management.

Farm Manager

Work at this level generally involves significant responsibilities in managing grain farm activities, including property planning and management, crop management and production, staff management and business planning and operations.

Farm Business Manager

The grain farm business manager has the primary responsibility to ensure that the grain farm enterprise is successfully managed. Responsibilities include whole farm planning and management, managing production systems, product marketing, strategic planning and rural enterprise management.