Agricultural Field Representative
Māngai Taiao Ahuwhenua
This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Agricultural field representatives sell products and services to clients such as farm equipment, and advise on crop and livestock management.
Agricultural field representatives with less than two years’ experience usually earn
$45K-$55K per year
Agricultural field representatives with two to three years' experience usually earn
$55K-$70K per year
Source: PGG Wrightson Seeds Limited.
Pay for agricultural field representatives varies depending on their position in the company, ability, experience, and commission/profit-sharing arrangements:
- Cadet or trainee agricultural field representatives can expect to start on about $45,000 a year.
- With two to three years' experience, they usually earn between $55,000 and $70,000.
- Very experienced agricultural field respresentatives can earn over $120,000.
Agricultural field representatives sometimes earn a base salary and commission, though trainees are usually not paid a commission until they gain experience. The employer also usually provides a uniform, vehicle, phone and running expenses.
Source: PGG Wrightson Seeds Limited.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the figures and diagrams in our job information)
What you will do
Agricultural field representatives may do some or all of the following:
- advise farmers about product usage, pasture, and crop and livestock management
- negotiate the sale of agricultural products and services
- buy and sell seeds and grains on farms.
Skills and knowledge
Agricultural field representatives need to have knowledge of:
- animal handling
- stock breeds, stock health and nutrition
- pasture and crop species and varieties
- performance of products such as farm equipment and agrichemicals
- soil types and fertility
- market values and trends, profitability and how climatic conditions affect market prices
- how to sell agricultural products and services.
Self-employed agricultural field representatives running their own business also require small business skills.
Agricultural field representatives:
- usually work a 40-hour week but may work slightly longer and irregular hours in summer and autumn due to the demands of the harvest, and may need to work evenings and weekends occasionally
- work on farms, at home and in offices
- work outdoors in all weather conditions
- travel frequently between workplaces.
What's the job really like?
Agricultural Field Representative
What qualities does an agricultural field representative need?
"You need to have energy, confidence and honesty. Of the three I think honesty is the most important.
"But confidence is important as well, because otherwise farmers will be reluctant to give you their business. Every time you talk with them you have to leave a good impression – show you're confident and can do the job."
What does the job involve?
"You need to be constantly keeping up with the play – following the market, keeping an eye on stock sale prices, watching what the meat export schedule is doing, and keeping in touch with what's happening around the regions.
"You're always talking to other farmers and stock agents, finding out what the feed situation is like in different areas so you know where you might be able to shift stock if it gets dry in your patch and the grass stops growing."
What recommendations would you have for someone thinking about getting into the job?
"The best thing I did was spend a year learning alongside a senior agent, because you learn the right way to do things – how to talk to people and how to approach different situations."
There are no specific entry requirements to become an agricultural field representative, but knowledge of farm management and farming techniques is an advantage, and a tertiary qualification in agriculture, commerce or farm management is recommended.
National certificates in rural servicing (Levels 3 to 5) are available and you can complete them while working on the job.
A driver's licence is usually required.
NCEA Level 2 English and maths is useful. Science, biology, agriculture and horticulture, and business studies are also useful.
A new agribusiness course could also be useful, and is being trialled at eight secondary schools nationwide in 2016.
Agricultural field representatives need to:
- have good communication skills, including the ability to relate to a wide range of people
- be hard-working, friendly, patient and able to inspire confidence
- be good negotiators
- be accurate and able to use good judgement because mistakes can be costly
- have good planning, organisational and problem-solving skills
- have record-keeping skills.
Useful experience for agricultural field representatives includes:
- merchandise sales for a retail servicing company
- farm work.
Agricultural field representatives need to be fit and healthy, as they may need to walk around farms and inspect machinery, fields and livestock. Some lifting may also be involved if delivering products.
Find out more about training
- Agriculture NZ Training
- 0800 475455 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.pggwrightson.co.nz
- Get Ahead
- 0800 69934636 - email@example.com - www.getahead.co.nz
- Primary Industry Training Organisation
- 0800 208020 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.primaryito.ac.nz
- 0800 835367 - email@example.com - www.telford.ac.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Opportunities for agricultural field representatives come up regularly because:
- the agricultural sector is growing
- vacancies arise due to resignations, retirements and promotions.
Experienced agricultural field representatives are in high demand and are often offered jobs by rival companies looking to expand their business.
Agricultural field representative jobs rarely advertised
Very few agricultural field representative vacancies are advertised, with most companies picking up staff through internal promotions, word of mouth, or by interested people or agriculture graduates approaching them directly.
Most nationwide companies operate a trainee programme for new entrants.
Types of employers varied
Employers of agricultural field representatives include:
- agricultural supply businesses
- specialist grain and seed companies
- fertiliser companies
- multinational agrichemical companies
Agricultural field representatives are usually based at a branch office, store or depot of their employer.
A few agricultural field representatives are self-employed.
- Gerard, G, general manager, production, PGG Wrightson Seeds Limited, Careers New Zealand interview, November 2015.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2006-2014 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2015.
Progression and specialisations
Agricultural field representatives usually specialise in working within a particular sector of the agricultural industry such as sheep, beef, and dairy, or with seed and grain production.
They may also progress to work in territory sales management or senior management roles in their company.
Last updated 19 August 2017