California Occupational Guides

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Summary Guide for

   Farmworkers and Laborers, Crop, Nursery, and Greenhouse in California

May also be called: Farm Laborers; Field Hands; Field Irrigation Workers; Field Workers; Garden Center Employees; Greenhouse Workers; Growers; Harvesters; Hired Hands; Hoe Workers; Irrigators; Nursery Harvesters; Nursery Workers; Orchard Workers; Pickers; Plant Production Workers; Transplant Workers

Specialties within this occupation include: Farmworkers and Laborers, Crop; Nursery and Greenhouse Workers; Sustainable and Organic Farmworkers and Laborers

What Would I Do?

Farmworkers and Laborers, Crop, Nursery, and Greenhouse* play a crucial role in supplying the nation and world’s food supply. The exact duties they perform vary depending on the crop and agricultural methods used to grow and harvest the plants. The diverse duties performed include planting, watering, pruning, and harvesting crops, and packaging fruits and vegetables. They need to be able to recognize diseased plants and markings left by pests or insects and perform general upkeep duties, such as repairing fencing or maintaining irrigation systems.

Green Economy: Farmworkers and Laborers have the potential to be members of the green economy. As sustainable farming practices become more widespread and dependence on hazardous pesticides and herbicides becomes less common, Farmworkers will contribute to the reduced dependence on natural resources, such as fossil fuels and water use. By setting up and operating booths at local farmers’ markets, Farmworkers will bring farm fresh goods directly to the consumer, eliminating the need for extra transportation and fuel costs and third-party distributors.

Working conditions for Farmworkers and Laborers may vary depending on the type of farm or nursery where they work. Crop Farmworkers and Laborers may spend most of their time outside in all kinds of weather, while Nursery Farmworkers and Laborers may spend some of their time working indoors or in a greenhouse, growing plants and helping customers. Working hours vary depending on the type of crop. Long hours and working on weekends is common.

*This product was partially funded by a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment & Training Administration. The information contained in this product was created by a grantee organization and does not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Labor. All references to non-governmental companies or organizations, their services, products, or resources are offered for informational purposes and should not be construed as an endorsement by the Department of Labor. This product is copyrighted by the institution that created it and is intended for individual organizational, non-commercial use only.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Farmworkers and Laborers, Crop and Nursery may appeal to those who enjoy activities that include dealing with hands-on problems and solutions and working outside with plants. It is helpful for individuals considering this occupation to also like working in an environment that requires following set procedures and routines while performing clearly defined activities.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

The median wage in 2015 for Farmworkers and Laborers, Crop and Nursery in California was $19,102 annually, or $9.18 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2015Low
(25th percentile)
Median
(50th percentile)
High
(75th percentile)
California$18,160$19,102$20,825
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2015 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas

Although uncommon, some employers may offer sick leave, paid vacation, and health benefits.

What is the Job Outlook?

Overall employment is expected to show little or no change. Fewer agricultural workers will be needed overall because of continued consolidation of farms and technological advancements in farm equipment that is raising output per farmworker. The agriculture industry also is expected to face increased competition from foreign countries and rising imports, particularly from Central America and China because of trade agreements with those regions. Nursery and Greenhouse Workers might experience some job growth in this period, if the demand for landscaping plants resumes its growth pattern.

How Do I Qualify?

Most Farmworkers learn their jobs quickly as they work; many do not have a high school diploma. People without a high school diploma are particularly common in the crop production sector. Depending on the job's responsibility level, some agricultural workers may need one month to one year of on-the-job training. High school students planning to become Farmworkers should take courses in biology, natural sciences, Spanish, and, if available, participate in their local 4-H organization.

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Jobs may also be found through registration with temporary employment agencies and through classified advertisements in newspapers, trade publications, and Internet job listings. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).


Learn More About Farmworkers and Laborers, Crop and Nursery