Farm Equipment Operator Career Overview – Learn What They Do

Farm equipment operators are in charge of operating farm machinery such as tractors, rake operators, hay balers, cutters and more.

They have to be comfortable using any machine used to plant and harvest crops, tilling soil, or feeding livestock.

What responsibilities do farm equipment operators have?

In addition to the above responsibilities, equipment operators may also have the following responsibilities:

  • Apply pesticides and fertilizers
  • Supervise employees using equipment to plant and harvest crops
  • Use equipment to plant crops
  • Prepare land for planting crops
  • Perform routine maintenance on machinery

How to become an equipment operator

A high school education with high school courses such as science, mathematics, and agriculture education.

On the job experience is key in this role. A pesticide certification may be required for some roles depending on job duties.

Work opportunities

Equipment operators have a variety of work opportunities:

  • Government agencies for land upkeep
  • Farms of all sizes
  • Fertilizer manufacturers

Click here to view the latest farm equipment operator jobs listed

What a day in the life of a farm equipment operator could look like

A farm equipment operator is a skilled worker who is responsible for operating and maintaining various types of machinery used in farming. Their job is crucial in ensuring that crops are planted, harvested, and processed efficiently.

Let’s take a look at what a typical day in the life of a farm equipment operator might look like.

Early Morning

The day for a farm equipment operator typically begins early in the morning, before sunrise. They may start by performing routine maintenance checks on the equipment, such as checking oil and fluid levels, inspecting belts and hoses, and ensuring that tires are properly inflated.

Once the equipment is checked and deemed safe to operate, the operator may move on to other tasks, such as preparing the fields for planting or harvesting. This may include using a plow, cultivator, or harrow to break up and level the soil.


As the day progresses, the operator may move on to more specialized tasks, such as planting seeds, fertilizing crops, or applying pesticides. They may use specialized equipment such as seed drills, fertilizer spreaders, or sprayers.

The operator must also be aware of weather conditions and adjust their work accordingly. For example, they may need to delay planting if the ground is too wet or stop work early if a storm is approaching.


In the afternoon, the operator may continue with the tasks from the morning or move on to new ones. They may be responsible for harvesting crops, which may involve operating a combine harvester or other specialized machinery.

The operator must also be mindful of safety while operating the equipment. They must be familiar with safety procedures and protocols, such as wearing protective gear and ensuring that equipment is properly secured before transport.


As the day comes to a close, the operator may finish up any tasks that need to be completed, such as cleaning the equipment or storing it away properly. They may also perform routine maintenance tasks, such as changing filters or lubricating moving parts.

Being a farm equipment operator is physically demanding and requires a high level of skill and attention to detail. It is also an essential role in the agricultural industry, ensuring that crops are planted and harvested efficiently and effectively. A farm equipment operator plays a critical role in the success of a farm and contributes to the overall well-being of the community by helping to ensure a steady food supply.

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