Summary of occupation
Fruit and vegetable pickers harvest a range of fruit, vegetables, nuts and berries, depending on the season. Fruit and vegetable pickers work at farms, market gardens and orchards all around Western Australia, from banana plantations in Carnarvon, to vineyards in Margaret River and melon farms in Kununurra. They assess produce as it is picked, checking for ripeness and discarding any pieces that are over-ripened, or that show signs of rotting or disease. Depending on the particular crop and size of the operation, they may pick produce by hand or operate specialised harvesting machines. These workers may also carefully pack produce into boxes and containers, ready for shipping.
Fruit and vegetable pickers harvest a range of fruit, vegetables, nuts and berries, depending on the season.
A fruit and vegetable picker needs:
- to be prepared to travel for work
- to be comfortable working at heights
- a high level of physical fitness
- to enjoy practical and manual work
- the ability to work quickly and consistently for long periods.
Fruit and vegetable pickers generally work outdoors in a variety of weather conditions. Work conditions can range from hot and sunny, to cold, wet and windy, depending on the location and time of year. These workers are often paid according to the amount of produce they pick, so they must work quickly and for long hours, often from sunrise to sunset. The work can be physically demanding, as pickers will frequently climb up and down ladders and usually carry loads of produce as they pick.
Fruit and vegetable harvesting is seasonal work and pickers may need to travel great distances to find work, depending on the time of year. Some employers may provide food and accommodation, though this is generally very basic and pickers will more commonly arrange their own living arrangements.
On average, fruit and vegetable pickers can expect to earn up to $680 per week ($35 360 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience.
Wages for fruit and vegetable pickers can vary significantly depending on the crop, time of year, speed of work and the individual employer. Workers in this occupation may be paid a casual hourly rate, on a per piece basis, or a pre-determined sum to cover the whole harvest.
Depending on the particular crop, fruit and vegetable pickers may collect produce by hand, using secateurs, or with specialised harvesting machines. Once picked, produce may be collected in tubs, buckets, bags, bins or on trays. In some cases, these workers will also be involved in cleaning and packing produce ready for shipping, which may also be done either by hand or with specialised machinery. Fruit and vegetable pickers may also be required to work from ladders or on elevated work platforms.
You can work as a fruit and vegetable picker without any formal qualifications and get training on the job.
You may improve your employment prospects if you hold a valid driver’s licence and/or a licence to operate a forklift.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.
If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
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If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.