California Farm Academy

Apprenticeship Program

The application period for the 2019 apprenticeship cohort is closed. Applications for the 2020 cohort will be available in Fall 2019. Please join our email list to receive updates about the application process.

If you currently work on a farm and would like to enroll in the the Apprenticeship Program with that farm, please contact us at apprenticeship[at]

About the Program

The California Farm Academy Apprenticeship Program is for highly motivated individuals who know they want a career in farm management. We expect our graduates to fill critical management positions on farms, take the reins from farmers looking at retirement, or launch their own farming operations. The program lasts approximately two years, and is a formal, state-registered apprenticeship with paid on-the-job training and supplemental coursework. Upon completion, apprentices will graduate to a Journeyman level in the occupation of a Beginning Farm and Ranch Manager.

For over 100 years, skilled trades have used Apprenticeship to train certified skilled workers and ensure their standard of training. We are a professional training program registered with the California Division of Apprenticeship Standards, making us the first registered apprenticeship program for Beginning Farm and Ranch Managers in California. By participating in our program, apprentices earn while they learn and participating farmers are helping build a pipeline of skilled workers in the ag industry.

On-the-Job Training

Apprentices are required to complete 3,000 hours of paid, on-the-job training by working on a production farm with a farmer mentor. On-the-job training takes place on commercial production farms in the Northern Sacramento Valley. These farms range from 5 to 4,000 acres, with the majority growing on over 500 acres, and include both organic and conventional farms. Participating farms grow a diversity of crops, including processing tomatoes, rice, wine grapes, tree nuts and mixed vegetables, and sell to a diversity of markets, including distributors, brokers, processors, and CSAs.

Learn more about participating farms »

Apprentice duties will differ between farms but all apprentices will receive a minimum number of hours of hands-on training in certain competency areas, called work processes. Work schedules are dictated by the needs of the farms, but apprentices will work at least 40 hours per week. Unless otherwise discussed, compensation starts at minimum wage and increases by $0.50 approximately each 6 months. Individuals already employed by a farm may enroll in the program, if the farmer agrees to participate. For more information, see the FAQ page.


Apprentices are required to complete a total of 250 hours of coursework over the 2 years of the program. In their first year, apprentices will be enrolled in the California Farm Academy’s 7-month Beginning Farmer Training Program from mid-February to mid-September. The Training Program includes approximately 200 hours of coursework, which includes lectures, field labs, and farm visits. As part of the Training Program, apprentices will develop a Farm Career Plan, articulating skills and knowledge that the apprentice wishes to prioritize to achieve their career goals. The remaining 50 hours of coursework will be based on the apprentice’s Farm Career Plan. Possibilities include industry trainings, short courses, industry tours, conferences, field days, workshops, and community college and adult school classes.