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Summary of occupation

Shearers take the sheep from the pen and hold firmly while removing the fleece all in one piece. They select combs that are appropriate for the type of sheep and wool. If necessary they may treat skin cuts on the sheep. They then return the sheep to the pens. They also maintain their cutters and combs by cleaning and sharpening them. They may also be required to shear stud animals with special combs or cutters.

ANZSCO description: Removes wool and hair from sheep, goats,  alpacas and other animals.
Alternative names:
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A Shearer needs:

  • to be physically fit
  • to be able to work quickly and consistently with their hands
  • to be able to work confidently with sheep
  • good hand-eye coordination
  • to be willing to work and live in the country
  • to be able to work as part of a team.
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Working conditions

Shearers usually work in teams travelling around the country. Most of the work is in the Wheatbelt and Great Southern; off-season work is available on stations in the Gascoyne, Pilbara and Goldfields. The work is not as seasonal as it used to be, with work most of the year. The peak seasons are Spring and Autumn. The working day begins at 7:30am and consists of four two hour runs with two 30 minute breaks and one hour for lunch. The shearing is usually done in a tin shed in the country and conditions are usually hot, dirty and dusty.

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Salary details

On average, shearers can expect to earn between $1 000 and $1 249 per week ($52 000 and $64 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience.

Shearers may be paid different amounts depending on the number of sheep they shear, plus various allowances.

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Tools and technologies

Shearers need to be proficient with power-driven hand pieces that are fitted with combs and cutters. They often own these hand pieces and so need to know how to maintain them.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

You can work as a shearer without any formal qualifications and get training on the job. Some shearers begin by being a shed hand in a shearing team. Entry into this occupation may be improved if you have a formal qualification in shearing.

The Certificate II and Certificate III in Shearing are offered at TAFE Colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia.

You can also complete a traineeship. The shearer and shearer (professional level) traineeships usually take six to nine months to complete.

Related courses

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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.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

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.

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