California Farm Academy

Apprenticeship Program FAQs

Is this a paid position? How much can I expect to make?

Yes, the apprenticeship is a paid position. Unless otherwise discussed, base pay starts at minimum wage and increases by $0.50 approximately every 6 months, pending a positive employer review. The farmer will provide your paycheck and you will also be covered under workers compensation. Apprentices should expect to work between 40 and 60 hours a week. Overtime and double-time wage compensation for agricultural workers applies to apprentices. Note that apprentices are not paid for the time that they spend in class.

Do I have to pay for tuition for the CFA Training Program?

No. Apprentices do not pay tuition fees for the Training Program or tuition for any other courses while they are in the Apprenticeship Program. Apprentices in registered apprenticeship programs in California are not allowed to pay for any tuition costs related to instruction.

What is the weekly time commitment?

Farming is highly seasonal. You can expect to work less hours during the winter months, and more hours in the summer months. During the high season, you can expect to work at least 40 hours a week, and some farms will ask you to work 60+ hours a week. Each farm sets its own daily and weekly work schedules.

When does the program start?

The CFA Beginning Farmer Training Program classes start in mid-February. You will need to be available to start attending these classes at that time. It is up to the farmers to determine a hire date, but most farmers will hire apprentices starting in early March. Please note there may be a gap of 2-3 weeks between when classes start and your hire date. If you join the program with a sponsor/employer, you can begin the program at any time during the year.

Where are the classes held?

Training Program classes are held in Winters and Davis. Farm visits are at nearby farms in the region. You will be responsible for getting to class on time throughout the season. Your host farmers are required to let you off work early enough to attend classes.

Can I select the farm I want to work on?

You may state your preferences in your application, but farmers will receive all qualified applications to review. Farmers will conduct their own interviews and choose which applicants they are interested in hiring. If more than one farm offers you a position, you may select which farm to apprentice on.

How does the selection process work?

All applicants must complete an application. Applications will be accepted from October 1 through November 4. Apprenticeship program staff will begin reviewing applications on October 19. Once staff determine that applications meet minimum requirements, they will conduct a short interview by phone with applicants. Applications will then be sent to farmers looking to hire an apprentice. Farmers will review applications and conduct interviews with candidates of their choice. Farmers will inform program staff of their hiring preferences and then Program staff will convey job offers to applicants starting December 3. Applicants will have one week to accept the offer or decline. If an applicant receives multiple offers, they will be able to choose which farm to work with. Hiring decisions will be made by mid-January.

Is the information session required to apply?

No. However, we recommend that you come if you are able to. During the information session you will have the opportunity to ask questions, learn more about the program, and meet some of the farmers who will be reviewing applications. The information session will be recorded and made available after the event to accommodate out-of-state applicants or others who cannot feasibly attend.

How much farming experience do I need?

There is not a specific amount of experience, or specific skills, that are required to participate in the program. However, we highly recommend that you have a season or two of experience on a farm. This will greatly increase your chances of getting into the program as many mentor farmers prefer to hire apprentices with prior experience. If you do not have farming experience, we have some suggestions of programs to consider to gain that experience here. Additional skills that many farms are looking for are the ability to speak Spanish and drive manual transmission vehicles.

Can I apply if I currently work on a farm and would like to complete my apprenticeship on that farm?

Yes. First, take a look at the work processes and curriculum and discuss with your employer if you will be able to get at least the minimum number of hours in each of the work process areas and if you will be able to adjust your work schedule to attend the Beginning Farmer Training Program classes. If you and your employer will be able to meet the requirements, you should next contact the CFA Apprenticeship Program at apprenticeship[at]landbasedlearning.org or by phone. If at any point you have questions, please contact the Program.

Will housing or meals provided?

Some of the participating farms offer housing and meals, but the majority do not. Be prepared to find your own housing and provide your own meals. Learn which farms provide housing and meals here. Veterans will be able to access their GI Bill benefits for housing if accepted into the program.

I am a farmer who is looking to hire an apprentice or to have an existing employee become an apprentice. How does this work?

There are several ways that farmers can be involved and train an apprentice on their farm. You can hire an apprentice via our application process or if you have an employee who would be a good fit for this program, then they can be enrolled in the program. You will need to be able to provide adequate experience in our work processes areas to meet the minimum hour requirements for each, meet wage requirements, and provide workers compensation. You can get more information on the Farmer Mentor page.