Progress your career in dairy

A dairy cow's health is monitored by a smartphone

Find out about career possibilities and pathways in the dairy farming industry.

Dairy farmers have worked on the land for over 200 years in New Zealand but a range of dairy sector jobs also exist off the farm.

Agribusiness people and agriscientists are helping to develop a positive and sustainable dairy sector.

Dairy careers are well paid and offer the opportunity to learn a variety of skills, whether you work on a farm or in an office or laboratory.

Types of dairy careers

Dairy farming 

Dairy farming involves caring for and milking cows while using sustainable farming practices to protect the environment and design the future. 

You can start as a dairy farm assistant without qualifications or training. The Primary Industry Training Organisation offers Level 2, 3 and 4 New Zealand Certificates in agriculture that you can study on the job. These qualifications can help you progress to herd manager or assistant farm manager roles.

Herd or assistant managers can train to become farm managers by completing a diploma or degree qualification in farm management, agriculture or commerce.

You can also work a self-employed contract milker or sharemilker, or own your own farm.


Agriscience technicians and scientists are the problem solvers of the dairy sector. They investigate new ideas and use science to deliver new and better ways to farm sustainably.

To become a research technician you need a relevant undergraduate science degree.

Scientists need to hold an Honours or Master's degree before completing a relevant postgraduate degree. Scientist roles within the dairy sector include microbiologist, biochemist and environmental scientist.


Agribusiness advisers provide a range of professional services to dairy farmers and farm businesses including business, production and environmental services.

Agribusiness roles include agricultural consultant, agricultural field representative, rural accountant, environmental consultant, economist and policy analyst.

The type of undergraduate degree you need will depend on your chosen specialisation. For example, rural accountants usually need an accounting, business or commerce degree.

Find out more


  • DairyNZ, ‘DairyNZ Annual Report 2018/19’, accessed 31 October 2019, (
  • DairyNZ website, accessed 1 November 2019, (
  • GoDairy website, accessed 31 October 2019, (
  • Stats NZ, ‘Primary sector drives increase in May export’, 25 June 2019, (

Updated 14 Feb 2020