Stepping stones to a rewarding career

Career pathways in wool growing

Australia is the world’s number one producer of premium quality fine wool, and is the largest producer of all wools by value and volume.

Wool was Australia’s second largest agricultural export in 2006-07 behind beef, valued at $3.07 billion and making up approximately 11 per cent of total farm exports. Australia ships wool to 52 countries with the biggest being China, which takes around 65 per cent of the national clip.

Wool production offers a challenging, physical and interesting lifestyle, often involving extensive travel and living away from home for short periods. Young workers view working visits to regional and remote areas of Australia as an attractive benefit. Wool harvesting occurs in all states and there are good financial returns for top shearers and woolclassers during the shearing season.

Most new entrants to the industry will begin as wool handlers but workers will generally choose to follow one of two main pathways early in their career.

Australia has around 5,000 shearers and a similar number of wool handlers and crutchers. More than 1,000 new staff are required annually, plus 300-400 new woolclassers.

National Merino Challenge

KiraThe 2014 National Merino Challenge – an initiative of Australian Wool Innovations – is attracting some of the highest quality agriculture students from schools, TAFEs, agriculture colleges and universities across every wool growing region of Australia.

The Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria is the host venue provider for the 2014 National Merino Challenge at the Melbourne Royal Agricultural Showgrounds.

Three students attending the challenge in May participated in preparing profiles of their interest in careers in agriculture.

Their stories showcase the talent and extraordinary young people who are the future of Australian agriculture. Please follow the links below.

For further enquiries or interest in participation at the National Merino Challenge, please contact Charles Impey, the Education and Training Adviser for NSW and the ACT, Phone: 0419 496 876 or email nsw.eta@ruralskills.com.au

Jobs and qualifications

Wool handler Certificate II in Wool Handling », Certificate III in Advanced Wool Handling »
Shearer Certificate II in Crutching », Certificate II in Shearing », Certificate III in Shearing,
Certificate IV in Shearing »
Owner Classer Certificate III in Wool Clip Preparation »
Wool Classer Certificate IV in Wool Classing »
Shearing Contractor Certificate IV in Shearing », Certificate IV in Rural Business »
Station or Farm Manager Diploma of Agriculture »
Rural Business Manager Advanced Diploma of Agriculture or Rural Business Management »
Wool handler

A wool handler is an essential part of the wool harvesting team with shearers, wool classers and other shearing shed staff. Duties include handling wool, pressing wool in bales, sweeping the board and penning sheep.


Shearers remove wool from sheep and perform the essential tasks that improve the efficiency of their shearing, including shearing sheep, maintaining shearing equipment and working as part of a team.

Owner Classer

Owner classers prepare and document wool for sale from their own or their family properties, including preparing the shed and yards for shearing, preparing wool, documenting the wool clip, supervising wool handlers, and preparing shearing team wages.


Professional woolclassers move from shed to shed preparing wool to create lines of uniform quality wool for sale, including supervising wool handlers, determining the classing strategy for the wool clip and classing wool.

Shearing Contractor

Shearing contractors manage teams of shearers and shed staff and undertake all arrangements for managing and servicing shearing sheds for the property owners who engage them, including arranging employment, and managing shearing operations.

Station or Farm Manager

A person working at this level is likely to have significant responsibilities in managing sheep and wool production activities, including property planning and management, livestock breeding and production; marketing livestock, staff management, and business planning and operations.

Rural Business Manager

A rural business manager has the primary responsibility for ensuring that a sheep and wool enterprise is successfully managed, including whole farm planning and management, managing production systems, marketing products, strategic planning and rural enterprise management.