For many Baltimore residents, the harvest season means visiting well-loved pumpkin farms, local orchards and enjoying plenty of agrarian-related endeavors and autumn traditions. With harvest time also comes the increasing demand for more seasonal farm-related work and available jobs.

According to the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation, agriculture is one of the largest areas of employment in the United States and the number one industry in the state of Maryland. There are roughly two million acres of farmland in the state of Maryland on more than 12,800 farms.

PickingJobsUSA, reported that as of 2010, roughly 350,000 employees worked in a Maryland agriculture-related profession. Some of these workers included migrant workers, professional farm hands, entry-level job hunters and career seekers. During the autumn harvest season, farms actively hire more landscape laborers, general laborers, pickers, sales assistants, associates for management and market dealings and livestock/animal attendants for feeding, tending and cleaning up. Also, depending on the nature of the farm, part-time workers (particularly college students) may be hired for haunted hayride operations and participation in other seasonal events.

Requirements for the various farm jobs depend on the nature of the employee responsibilities and duties outlined in the job description. While many seasonal jobs are temporary or entry-level professions, other farm jobs include responsibilities that may require prerequisite knowledge or experience. Such jobs may require involvement with equipment operations, particular animal-related procedural care, the driving of various machines and vehicles and a number of other specialized duties. Sometimes experience comes from intensive hands-on training. Most farms are family owned and operated, and the necessary training may come with being raised into the experience. Other times, training comes through apprenticeships or even from taking farm classes. Those wishing to pursue careers in farming can get formal training through a variety of programs. Two options to consider include enrolling with the Future Harvest Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture in Cockeysville or completing courses for farmer training certification through the University of Maryland Extension.

Seasonal farm workers are generally paid minimum, hourly wages. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, a full-time farmer’s income may vary from year to year based on the fluctuation prices of farm product costs, weather conditions, and other related factors. In 2012 the median annual wage for farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers was $69,300. At the low-end, 10 percent earned less than $31,700 and on the highest scale, 10 percent earned more than $124,160.

Laura Catherine Hermoza has a lifelong love for writing. In addition to serving as a contributor to various media publications, she is also a published novelist of several books and works as a proofreader/editor. LC resides in Baltimore County.

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