How to Become a

Dairy Farmer

The complete career guide to be a Dairy Farmer: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $69,880
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • -1.9%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Outdoor Work Environment
    Career Attribute
  • Problem Solving
    Career Attribute

A dairy farmer is responsible for overseeing the day to day management and care of dairy cows, so they produce the maximum quantity of milk. The milk produced is processed for drinking or to be used in other dairy products.

Recommended Schools

What is a Dairy Farmer?


As a dairy farmer, you would take on the following responsibilities:

  • Track and schedule on-farm audits to examine different aspects like herd health and well-being, employee training, milk quality and safety protocols.
  • Meet with various stakeholders such as dairy producers, dealers, contractors and engineers on-site or at their offices for some farm projects.
  • Supervise staff on the farm such as stock managers, herdsmen, parlor managers and milkers to support efficient operations.
  • Operate farm equipment like skid load, tractor powered mobile TMR box and liquid manure spreaders.
  • Maintain hygiene levels on the dairy farm in accordance with government regulations to ensure smooth operation, i.e. keep farm buildings clean, maintain milking equipment, etc.

Day In The Life

As a dairy farmer, you will be milking cows at least twice daily using milking equipment – usually in the morning and then in the afternoon. Milking varies as some farmers choose to milk seasonally while others do it all year round. Your priority will be closely planning and managing the food intake of the herd and buy supplies like feed supplements to maintain their health. Raising calves and ensuring the proper breed and mating of the herd also comes under your purview. Besides this, you may carry out general supervisory talks like directing staff to put up fencing and eliminating weeds around the farm; keep financial records up to date and track the farm’s business goals; hire and train candidates to support farm work.

Work Schedule

As a dairy farmer, most of your work will require you to be active outdoors, irrespective of the weather conditions. Having excellent fitness and stamina is a must due to the physically demanding nature of the job. You will start bright and early in the morning, get some time off during the day and milk cows again in the afternoon. There are minor risks of an injury that could occur while handling herds or agricultural equipment.

Growth Of The Job

Industry earnings for the dairy industry are expected to increase, with higher costs of wholesale milk over the last few years. There is also a stable demand for experienced dairy herd and agricultural managers. Dairy farming operations will continue to be a reliable and profit-oriented farming alternative for the near future. As a step up, many dairy farmers expand their operations to multiple areas or supply more varieties of dairy products to large conglomerates. Small-scale dairy farmers also join cooperatives to better market and sell their products.

Typical Employers

Many dairy farmers are self-employed but others work for a large corporate organisation. With the decreasing number of dairy farms, the latter is becoming a common trend in the industry. Strong employment opportunities exist with organizations like Dairy Farmers of America, Inc., Dairy Management Inc., Royal Crest Dairy, Foremost Farms, DANONE Foods, etc. Your earnings may fluctuate year to year, depending on the milk produced by cows, payments from the milk companies and market scenario. Benefits enjoyed by dairy farmers often include free power, some or all meals, subsidized accommodation and sometimes farm meat or milk.

Recommended Schools

How To Become a Dairy Farmer

While there is no fixed educational qualification required to be a dairy farmer, possessing at least a high school diploma is beneficial for your career prospects. Basic requirements include having a motorcycle and heavy vehicle driver’s license.

Having at least three years of secondary education is highly recommended. Subjects you should cover in high school can be math, accounting, agricultural science, digital technology and biology. More and more farmers are completing a two or four-year degree in dairy science, agriculture, animal science and other related subjects. Ideally, you should finish coursework in important topics such as crop science, reproduction, technology, anatomy, dairy science and agricultural management.

You have the makings of a dairy farmer if you are well organised and able to work for long hours without any supervision, in a team setting. Managing people is a big part of the job, so superior communication skills and an inclination towards making decisions is well regarded. In terms of gaining on the job experience, find opportunities to work at farms with animals, work at mechanical or building industries, as well as rural positions to learn the tricks of the trade.

Dairy Farmer Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

Low Range




High Range


How do Dairy Farmer salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Dairy Farmer's can make an average annual salary of $69,880, or $34 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $45,930 or $22 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #200 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Dairy Farmer. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Dairy Farmers

  • 0.9%   Doctorate
  • 3%   Masters
  • 18.3%   Bachelors
  • 9.1%   Associates
  • 19.8%   College
  • 36.9%   High School
  • 12%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Dairy Farmer job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of -18,100 jobs for a total of 911,700 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a -1.9% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #651 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Dairy Farmers

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Self-employed workers 657,700 8,500 9%
Crop production 152,000 -18,900 -19%
Animal production and aquaculture 105,600 -7,800 -8%

Want To Be a Dairy Farmer? Get Started!

Generate your free SmartPlan™ to identify colleges you like, and potential ways to save on a degree or certification program toward your career with courses, offers, and much more!

Enroll Now and Get Started

or Learn More →