Apprenticeship as a farmer in Germany

If you are interested in working in the fresh air and living in the countryside, then the apprenticeship as a farmer in Germany might be interesting for you. We inform you how to become a farmer.

What does a farmer in Germany do?

In Germany, a farmer plays a multifaceted role that involves much more than tilling the soil and tending to livestock. Rooted in the rhythm of nature and the seasons, a farmer’s tasks are diverse and change throughout the year. During planting season, they prepare the fields and sow seeds, ensuring that crops have the best start possible.

As the year progresses, they monitor crop health, implement pest control measures, and safeguard their fields from disease. In livestock farming, farmers nurture animals, providing them with food, healthcare, and clean living conditions. They are also responsible for breeding and may be involved in the production of dairy, meat, or eggs. Harvest time is particularly crucial, as farmers reap the fruits of their labor, often under time pressure, and prepare their crops for sale or storage.

Additionally, a farmer in Germany is also a business person, managing the economic aspects of their farm, including budgeting, marketing, and sales. They negotiate contracts, manage supply chains, and ensure the profitability of their farm. As environmental stewards, they implement sustainable farming practices to preserve the natural resources their work depends on, and they comply with environmental regulations and standards.

Farmers also engage with advancements in technology, using modern machinery, precision farming tools, and digital solutions to improve efficiency and productivity. Their role often involves liaising with advisors, veterinarians, and agricultural scientists to ensure their farming methods are up to date and based on the latest research.

Thus, a farmer’s role in Germany is an intricate blend of tradition and innovation, requiring skills in practical fieldwork, business management, environmental stewardship, and a willingness to adapt and learn in an ever-evolving industry.

Specializations within Agriculture in Germany

Germany’s diverse climate and geographical characteristics have paved the way for a wide range of specializations in the field of agriculture. These specializations cater to the demands of the market and the unique opportunities presented by the country’s varied regions.

  • Livestock Farming: This is a prominent sector in Germany’s agriculture industry, with a strong focus on dairy farming and pig rearing. The northern and western regions of Germany are particularly known for their dairy farming, due to the suitable climate and landscape. Pigs are also widely reared, contributing to Germany being one of the largest pork producers in Europe.
  • Crop Farming: The plains of northern and eastern Germany are fertile grounds for crops like wheat, barley, and rye. Germany is one of the world’s top exporters of wheat. There’s also a strong focus on sustainable and organic farming, with a growing number of farms shifting towards these practices.
  • Viticulture (Wine Production): The regions along the Rhine river and its tributaries are famous for their vineyards. The unique microclimate and soil conditions here make them ideal for growing grapes for wine production. Germany is internationally recognized for its white wines, particularly Riesling.
  • Fruit and Vegetable Farming: Regions in southern Germany are known for their fruit orchards and vegetable farming, including apples, cherries, asparagus, and cabbages. The Lake Constance region, for instance, is one of the major apple-growing areas in Europe.
  • Poultry Farming: Poultry farming, particularly chicken and turkey, is another important sector of German agriculture. Germany is the largest producer of chicken meat in the EU.
  • Forestry: With over a third of Germany covered by forests, sustainable forestry plays an integral part in the country’s agricultural sector. The German forestry sector is known for its focus on long-term sustainability and preservation of biodiversity.

These are just some examples of the variety of agricultural specializations in Germany. Each field comes with its unique set of challenges and opportunities, as well as specific skills and knowledge required. Regardless of the path chosen, agriculture in Germany offers a rewarding and impactful career.

Overview of the activities of a farmer

As a farmer, you deal with these tasks, among others:

  • Planning and implementing the production of plants and animals
  • Working the soil and fields (soil care, fertilizing, mowing)
  • Processing animal products
  • Operating, maintaining and repairing machinery and equipment
  • Harvesting, processing and sale of agricultural products
  • Documentation and business management processes.

More than half of the farms in Germany have additional sources of income beyond the actual production of crops and livestock. So you should be open to working on certain items on this list as well:

  • Hosting guests
  • Selling agricultural products at your own farm shops
  • Leasing and management of land
  • Use of renewable energies
  • Providing services with your own fleet of vehicles.

Working Conditions and Typical Workdays in Agriculture

A career in agriculture, while fulfilling, can also be quite demanding, as it often requires a significant commitment of time and physical labor. The working conditions and typical workdays vary based on the agricultural sector and the time of the year but there are some commonalities.

Farming is a profession that often begins early in the day, sometimes before sunrise, and can extend into the evening hours, especially during the peak season. Workweeks may be longer than in many other professions, often exceeding the standard 40-hour workweek, and weekend work is not uncommon. However, the exact hours can fluctuate depending on the season, the weather, and the specific tasks at hand.

Farmers, farmworkers, and agricultural managers often work outdoors and in all kinds of weather – from hot, dry summers to cold, icy winters. Physical fitness is important as the work often involves heavy lifting, bending, climbing, and using specialized machinery and tools. Protective clothing and equipment are frequently required to ensure safety.

In livestock farming, tasks include feeding and taking care of animals, cleaning their living spaces, monitoring their health, and, in the case of dairy farming, milking cows. The animals require care every day, so these tasks can’t be postponed, even on weekends or holidays.

In crop farming, the tasks fluctuate with the seasons – spring is the time for planting, summer is for growing and maintenance tasks such as weeding, and autumn is the harvest season. Winter is typically the time for maintenance and repair work, planning for the next year, and attending agricultural trade fairs and professional development courses.

In addition to formal education and training, there are also various short courses, workshops, and seminars for farmers to continually update their skills and knowledge. Topics may include organic farming, soil management, modern farming technologies, and climate change adaptation.

Viticulture and fruit farming also have their unique rhythms, with intense periods during the planting season, the growth phase, and the harvest. After the harvest, the vines or trees need to be pruned and the soil prepared for the winter.

Despite the physical demands and long hours, many people are drawn to agriculture for the opportunity to work closely with nature, the satisfaction of seeing the results of their labor, and the chance to contribute to the production of food and maintenance of the landscape. Each day brings different tasks and challenges, making farming a dynamic and rewarding profession.

How to become a farmer in Germany

Germany offers an array of educational opportunities for those aspiring to be farmers. The education and training system is designed to be flexible and comprehensive, addressing the practical and theoretical aspects of farming.

Those interested in farming can start their journey with a vocational education, known as “Berufsausbildung”. The training usually lasts for three years and is divided between practical learning on a farm and theoretical education at a vocational school. The subjects covered range from animal care, crop production, and machinery operation, to sustainable farming practices, sales, and business administration. This practical approach provides students with first-hand experience of the day-to-day operations of a farm. Trainees can specialize in different types of farming such as livestock, crops, organic farming, and even viticulture.

Germany also offers a range of apprenticeships in agriculture. These “Ausbildungsberufe” provide on-the-job training under the guidance of experienced farmers, combined with theoretical instruction at vocational schools. Apprenticeships generally last two to three years and lead to a recognized qualification. The apprenticeship system in Germany is highly respected and provides an excellent pathway into the agricultural profession.

For those looking for more advanced theoretical knowledge and research opportunities, Germany’s universities and technical institutions offer Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD programs in Agriculture and related fields. These programs offer a more in-depth understanding of agricultural science, agronomy, environmental management, and agricultural economics. The curriculum is more theoretical compared to vocational training and apprenticeships, but practical modules and internships are often included. Higher education degrees can open up opportunities for roles in agricultural management, research, consulting, and policy-making.

How to become a farmer with an apprenticeship

If you want to become a farmer, there are several paths into agricultural professions in Germany. The best known is an apprenticeship as a farmer in Germany. For an apprenticeship as a farmer in Germany you only need at least a secondary school diploma or an international school diploma with at least 9 grades. If you do not have a diploma yet, there are possibilities how you can catch up a school leaving certificate. The apprenticeship program normally takes three years, but it can also be shortened to two years.

Whether it’s through vocational training, apprenticeships, or university education, Germany provides diverse and comprehensive pathways to becoming a farmer. It’s this strong emphasis on education and training that ensures the high standard of farming in the country.

Your apprenticeship will take place both at vocational school and on farms. When choosing your apprenticeship, make sure that you get to know several farms: the more you get to know, the better you can position yourself as a farmer later on! During your apprenticeship program you will learn the basics of plants, animals, technology, environment, organic farming, economics and politics.

You will get to know two branches of plant production and two branches of animal production in detail. You can choose from the following branches:

Plant production

  • Arable forage production
  • Cereal production
  • Grassland or field grass
  • Legume farming
  • Potato growing
  • Grain maize cultivation
  • Oil crop cultivation
  • Silviculture
  • Sugar beet cultivation

Animal production

  • Poultry rearing or fattening
  • Laying hen farming
  • Dairy cattle farming
  • Horse husbandry
  • Cattle rearing or cattle fattening
  • Sow rearing and piglet production
  • Sheep farming
  • Pig rearing or pig fattening

During your apprenticeship, you will also learn about agricultural machinery in specialized courses. This includes, for example, metalworking and metal processing, so that you can repair machines and equipment on the farm yourself.

Examinations during the apprenticeship

Before starting the last year of training, you will have to take an intermediate test on your knowledge. This exam consists of a written and an operational part. At the end of the training period there is a final examination. This exam covers all the skills and knowledge listed in the training framework as well as the content covered in vocational school classes. The final examination is divided into a written examination and a company examination.

Apprenticeship as a farmer in Germany
There are many different fields of activity in agriculture. A distinction should be made here, for example, between crop production and animal husbandry.

The examination is practical and oral. The tasks include one work sample from plant production and one from animal production. There is also a technical discussion in both areas. In this, the trainee must demonstrate that he or she understands important operational contexts and can apply the skills and knowledge acquired.

The written examination comprises the following parts:

  • Plant production
  • Animal production
  • Economics and social studies

What comes after the apprenticeship?

Upon successful completion of an agricultural apprenticeship in Germany, a world of opportunities opens up in this diverse and vital sector. Having equipped themselves with practical knowledge and a solid understanding of modern farming methods, apprentices are ready to venture into a range of careers.

Many graduates opt to take over or establish their own farms, ranging from small family-owned operations to larger commercial enterprises. The kind of farm they choose may depend on their particular area of interest, whether that’s livestock farming, crop production, viticulture, or a combination of these.

Alternatively, graduates may choose to specialize further and become agricultural technicians. In this role, they might oversee the planning, coordination, and execution of farm operations and ensure that these are carried out in a sustainable and efficient manner.

Others might find themselves drawn to the realm of agricultural consulting, using their expertise to guide farmers on the best practices to optimize their yield and minimize their environmental impact. This could involve advising on crop rotation, soil management, pest control, and the use of modern technologies.

Agricultural graduates also find opportunities in research and development, contributing to advancements in farming techniques, plant breeding, and animal health. They may work alongside scientists and researchers in laboratories, field trials, and academic institutions, continually pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in agriculture.

After successfully completing your apprenticeship, you can work as a journeyman on a farm or take over your own farm. You can also gain further qualifications, for example as a master farmer, a state-certified economist or a state-certified agricultural business economist. The state-certified nature and landscape conservationist is also an option.

Moreover, some graduates might be drawn to a teaching career, sharing their knowledge and passion with future generations of aspiring farmers. Whether in vocational schools, adult education programs, or community workshops, these individuals play an important role in sustaining the agricultural profession.

Finally, there are numerous roles in the broader agribusiness sector that value the practical expertise of those with a background in farming. These include positions in agricultural sales, marketing, supply chain management, and policy development.

Should I become a farmer in Germany?

If you want to become a farmer, you should answer “yes” to as many questions as possible from the list below:

  • Do I enjoy physical work?
  • Do I also like office work?
  • Am I good at strategy and planning?
  • Can I work nights if necessary?
  • Do I not mind bad weather?
  • Can I handle numbers (math) and am I good at biology and chemistry?
  • Can I work independently?
  • Can I cope with modern technology?
  • Can I get up very early in the morning?

Apprenticeship as a farmer in Germany questions

  1. Where can you do an apprenticeship as a farmer in Germany?

    If you want to become a farmer, you can do a dual apprenticeship program to become a farmer. Such an apprenticeship program is offered in many farms throughout Germany.

  2. How much do you earn during the apprenticeship as a farmer?

    During the apprenticeship as a farmer you earn about 600 to 880 euros gross per month. However, there are several ways you can increase your income during apprenticeship, including vocational training assistance.

  3. Is there a subsidy for the apprenticeship as a farmer?

    If you are doing an apprenticeship program to become a farmer, you can get various subsidies depending on your background in Germany. These support options in the apprenticeship include, for example, housing allowance or BaföG .

    Pursuing a global career often entails relocating to a new country, which makes finding the right accommodation crucial. To streamline your search, consider exploring the options available on HousingAnywhere.
  4. How much does a farmer earn in Germany?

    Farmers currently earn on average between 2,000 and 2,500 euros gross per month. Many farmers receive in addition very favorable food by the own cultivation of potatoes, fruit and vegetables or the animal husbandry. If you have your own farm and find a good specialization, you can easily earn many times more.

  5. Where can you study agriculture in Germany?

    You can study agriculture in Germany at universities in Bingen, Bernburg, Freising, Neubrandenburg, Osnabrück, Kassel, Eberswalde or Berlin, among others. In total, there are around 40 different options for studying a degree program with a closer connection to agriculture in Germany. You can find all the options on Hochschulkompass.

  6. How do I become a farmer in Germany?

    If you want to become a farmer in Germany, you can do an apprenticeship program to become a farmer. In this apprenticeship you will learn the necessary knowledge about plants, animals, technology and the environment.

Opportunities and Pathways for Foreigners in Agriculture in Germany

For foreigners interested in the field of agriculture, Germany presents a wealth of opportunities. The country has a long-standing tradition of welcoming skilled foreign workers, and agriculture is no exception to this.

The first step towards starting a career in agriculture in Germany is usually through an apprenticeship. These provide on-the-job training while also taking classroom courses to gain a comprehensive understanding of the field. It’s important to remember that having a basic understanding of the German language is essential to navigate through the training and work environment, so prospective trainees are advised to undertake a language course if necessary.

As for acceptance in the field, Germany generally has a welcoming attitude towards foreign workers. This is partly due to the country’s need for skilled labor in sectors such as agriculture. However, acceptance can depend on various factors such as the individual workplace, the region, and one’s personal ability to adapt to German workplace culture.

Finding and starting an apprenticeship in agriculture involves several steps. Firstly, one must search for available apprenticeship positions. This can be done through various online portals that list apprenticeship opportunities, or through the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit). It’s advisable to start searching and applying early as the process can be competitive.

After finding a suitable position, the next step is the application process, which typically involves sending a CV, a cover letter, and relevant documents. If the application is successful, you’ll usually be invited to an interview.

Bear in mind that for non-EU foreigners, a visa will likely be required to live and work in Germany. The exact type of visa depends on various factors, including the length and nature of the stay. Once the visa is obtained and the apprenticeship position secured, you can start your journey in German agriculture.

Overall, the path to starting a career in agriculture in Germany as a foreigner involves diligent preparation and patience, but with the right approach and resources, it’s an achievable goal. The opportunity to gain practical skills in one of Europe’s largest agricultural producers could be a significant stepping stone in your career.

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