Agricultural Engineering Technician
Agricultural engineering technicians support the work of engineers in a wide variety of areas in the agricultural industry. Their work includes installing, repairing and maintaining equipment, developing and testing new products for the farming industry, and applying soil and water technology to activities such as land drainage and irrigation.
Also known as
- Engineering Technician, Agricultural
- Farming Engineering Technician
- Land Based Engineering Technician
Agricultural engineering technicians work with a range of agricultural machinery, from tractors and harvesters to equipment for cutting down trees and extracting and processing timber. They also work with equipment such as grain stores, forage silos, greenhouses, and automatic feeding and milking installations.
In manufacturing, agricultural engineering technicians help to design, develop and produce agricultural equipment. Where they work in a project team, they are usually led by an agricultural engineer.
They prepare plans and designs, help with trials to test new products, make changes and repairs, and record results. They write technical manuals for operating and servicing the equipment and installations, as well as work in technical sales and servicing.
Agricultural engineering technicians may work for local machinery dealers. They supply farmers, local authorities and other customers with suitable machinery, as well as offer advice and an aftersales service. Some engineering technicians install machinery on the customer's land.
The types of machinery and equipment an agricultural engineering technician works on might change depending on the time of year and different seasons.
In service departments, agricultural engineering technicians repair and maintain a wide range of machinery. Repairs may take place indoors, such as in a workshop, or outdoors on a farm. Workshops can be noisy. A lot of the work is physical, involving heavy equipment.
Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.
Personal Qualities and Skills
As an agricultural engineering technician, you need:
- To have technical ability.
- Good problem-solving skills.
- The ability to diagnose faults and repair them quickly.
- Knowledge of mechanical and electrical systems, as well as hydraulics.
- To be willing to keep up to date with new technical knowledge.
- The ability to read and interpret technical drawings and plans, and explain them to others.
- An awareness of health and safety legislation.
- To work well in a team.
- To be resourceful and able to act on your own initiative; you may have to repair machinery on a remote farm, far away from your workshop.
- To be prepared to work in all types of weather, as some work takes place outdoors.
- Good communication skills, to explain to farmers how machinery works, and to discuss faults and repairs.
- To be physically fit to cope with bending, lifting and stretching.
Pay and Opportunities
Salaries for agricultural engineering technicians vary depending on the company, role and level of responsibility.
The pay rates given below are approximate.
Agricultural engineering technicians earn in the range of £21,500 - £25,000 a year, rising to £29,500 - £35,000. Higher earners can make around £50,000 a year.
Hours of work
Most agricultural engineering technicians work around 35-40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Early starts, late finishes, and some weekend work may be required. Some technicians may be required to work shifts.
What's happening in this work area?
Demand for agricultural engineering technicians is linked to the seasonal activity of the agricultural sector as a whole. This seasonal requirement, which includes working long unsociable hours during harvest time, has resulted in a shortage of skilled staff. Employment prospects, as a result, are good, as the sector needs to attract young people and career changers.
Future skills needsThe following skills shortages have been identified:
- Business and management.
- Literacy and numeracy.
- Customer service.
Where could I work?
There is a wide range of employers, including those that make agricultural machinery and equipment. You can also work in farm, forestry and estate management, and in environmental or conservation management.
Opportunities for agricultural engineering technicians occur with employers in towns, cities and rural areas throughout the UK.
Where are vacancies advertised?
Vacancies are advertised in local/national newspapers, trade industry publications, at Jobcentre Plus and on the Universal Jobmatch website.
Vacancies can also be found through specialist engineering recruitment agencies, internet job boards and the websites of professional engineering bodies.
Entry Routes and Training
An Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship will help you to get into this job.
You may also be able to enter employment as a trainee, receiving day- or block-release to go to college part-time.
Another entry route is to take a full-time college course, leading to a relevant A level or Edexcel (BTEC) National qualification (eg, Engineering) before looking for employment.
You may be able to work towards a relevant work-based qualification, such as Land-based Service Engineering at levels 2 and 3.
Professional registration - known as EngTech - is available for those who have joined a professional engineering institution licensed by the Engineering Council.
You also need to complete a relevant Advanced Apprenticeship; or hold a qualification such as the Edexcel (BTEC) Level 3 Certificate or Diploma in Engineering or Construction and the Built Environment, alongside relevant experience.
You can apply if you don't have a qualification, but you need to have substantial work experience.
Full details on how to register as an EngTech are available in the Engineering Council's UK-SPEC document, which can be viewed on their website.
With further education and training, engineering technicians can go on to register at Incorporated Engineer (IEng) and Chartered Engineer (CEng) level.
To get onto an Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship, you’ll usually need five GCSEs at grade C or above, possibly including English and Maths.
It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.
Relevant skills gained as a fitter or craftsperson are an advantage. A farming or horticultural background can be useful.
Most colleges will consider applications from older candidates who don't have the usual entry requirements. You should check the admissions policy of individual colleges.
Information on pathways to registration as an Engineering Technician (EngTech) can be found on the Engineering Council's website.
- 2% of people in occupations such as agricultural engineering technician work part-time.
- 16% have flexible hours.
Professional institutionsProfessional institutions have the following roles:
- To support their members.
- To protect the public by keeping standards high in their professions.
For more information on the institution(s) relevant to this career, check out the contacts below.
Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far
National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)
Tel: 0800 015 0400
Skills Development Scotland - Modern Apprenticeships
Tel: 0800 9178000
British Agricultural and Garden Machinery Association (BAGMA)
Address: Middleton House, 2 Main Road, Middleton Cheney, Banbury, Oxfordshire OX17 2TN
Tel: 01295 713344
Skills for land-based and environmental industries
Address: Lantra House, Stoneleigh Park, Coventry, Warwickshire CV8 2LG
Tel: 02476 696996
Skills for science, engineering and manufacturing technologies
Address: 14 Upton Road, Watford, Hertfordshire WD18 0JT
Tel: 0845 6439001
Engineering technology news
Publisher: EngineeringUK and Royal Academy of Engineering
Farmers Weekly Interactive
Publisher: Reed Business Information Ltd
National Skills Academy for Food & Drink
Sector Skills Council for the food and drinks industry
Food and drink careers
Publisher: Venture Marketing Group
Address: 105 West George Street, Glasgow G2 1QL
Tel: 0141 2213181
Address: 246 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EX
Tel: 020 3206 0500
Engineering Training Council Northern Ireland (ETC NI)
Northern Ireland Enquiries
Address: Sketrick House, Ards Business Park, Jubilee Road, Newtownards BT23 4YH
Tel: 028 9182 2377
Institution of Agricultural Engineers (IAgrE)
Address: The Bullock Building (Bldg 53), University Way, Cranfield, Bedford MK43 0GH
Tel: 01234 750876
Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships
Tel: 0800 028 4844