Agricultural Equipment Operator  What They Do

Just the Facts


Drives and controls farm equipment to till soil and to plant, cultivate, and harvest crops. May perform tasks, such as crop baling or hay bucking. May operate stationary equipment to perform post-harvest tasks, such as husking, shelling, threshing, and ginning.

This career is part of the Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources cluster Power, Structural and Technical Systems pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Adjusts, repairs, and services farm machinery and notify supervisors when machinery malfunctions.
  • Observe sand listens to machinery operation to detect equipment malfunctions.
  • Irrigates soil, using portable pipes or ditch systems, and maintains ditches or pipes and pumps.
  • Mixes specified materials or chemicals, and dumps solutions, powders, or seeds into planter or sprayer machinery.
  • Operates or tends equipment used in agricultural production, such as tractors, combines, and irrigation equipment.
  • Manipulates controls to set, activate, and adjust mechanisms on machinery.
  • Directs and monitors the activities of work crews engaged in planting, weeding, or harvesting activities.
  • Loads hoppers, containers, or conveyors to feed machines with products, using forklifts, transfer augers, suction gates, shovels, or pitchforks.
  • Sprays fertilizer or pesticide solutions to control insects, fungus and weed growth, and diseases, using hand sprayers.
  • Attaches farm implements such as plows, discs, sprayers, or harvesters to tractors, using bolts and hand tools.

Related Careers


Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 20 lbs., sometimes up to 50 lbs. You might do a lot of lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling.
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Requires getting into awkward positions
  • Conditions are very hot (above 90 F) or very cold (under 32 F)
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Exposed to conditions such as high voltage electricity, combustibles, explosives, and chemicals more than once a month
  • Exposed to hazardous equipment such as saws, machinery, or vehicular traffic more than once a month
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation requires being outside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves sitting more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Picking out a particular sound in the presence of other sounds
  • Judging how far away an object is, or which of several objects is closer or farther away
  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Detecting sounds and hearing the differences between sounds of different pitch and loudness
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Irregular hours
  • Overtime work
  • Seasonal work
  • Weekend work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Baler Operator -- Operates and tends machines that compresses and binds paper, cloth, or other loose materials.
  • Broomcorn Thresher -- Tends machine that threshes and bales broomcorn straw.
  • Combine Operator -- Operates combine machinery and ensures its smooth operations and functioning by performing the routine repairing and replacement of machinery parts.
  • Fertilizer Applicator -- Performs custom application of fertilizers and crop protection products (insecticides/herbicides/fungicides) by operating large farm equipment.
  • Milking Machine Operator -- Tends machine that milks dairy cows.
  • Planting Machine Operator --
  • Vegetable Harvest Machine Operator --