California Farm Academy
Apprenticeship Program FAQs
Is this a paid position? How much can I expect to make?
Yes, the apprentice will be a paid employee of the farm. Unless otherwise discussed, base pay starts at minimum wage and increases by $0.50 approximately every 6 months, pending a positive employer review. 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.
Additionally, veterans may be able to receive VA education benefits for housing and books and supplies for classes.
Do I have to pay for tuition for coursework?
No. Registered apprenticeship programs in California cover all tuition costs for related supplemental instruction (RSI).
What is the weekly time commitment?
Each farm sets its own daily and weekly work schedules and farming is highly seasonal. You can expect to work less hours during the winter and more hours in the summer and fall. During the busy season, you can expect to work at least 40 hours a week, and some farms may ask you to work 60 or more hours a week.
When does the program start?
The Apprenticeship Program accepts applications year-round and can enroll apprentices at any point during the year. The timing of your apprenticeship will depend on when you submit your application and each farmer’s timeline and hiring needs.
Class locations vary. Some of your classes may be at the Center for Land-Based Learning's headquarters in Woodland. Other locations will depend on the course, which is determined in conjunction with program staff and your employer.
Where are the farms?
Farms locations vary. While many of the participating farms are in the Southern Sacramento Valley, farm employers can be located anywhere in the state of California. If you are unable to relocate, please indicate this in your pre-application. While this may limit your options, we will do our best to recruit farm employers in your preferred region.
Can I select the farm I want to work on?
You may state your preferences in your application, but all 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.
Will housing or meals be provided?
Most participating farms do not offer housing or meals. Learn which farms do provide housing and meals here. Eligible veterans will be able to access their VA education benefits for housing if accepted into the program.
How much farming experience do I need?
There is not a specific amount of farming experience or set of skills that are required to participate in the program. However, applicants that can bring useful skills to the farm are highly sought after. Many farms are looking for are the ability to speak Spanish, mechanical skills, and experience with heavy equipment. Familiarity with crop production, irrigation systems and technology skills are also valuable, but not required.
How does the selection process work?
The application is a multi-stage process. All applicants must first submit a pre-application available on our How to Apply page to establish that they meet minimum eligibility requirements. Next, high-ranking applications are sent to farmers to review. Farmers will review applications and conduct phone interviews with candidates they choose. If there is a good fit, applicants will receive notice of a job offer from program staff. Please see additional details on the How to Apply page.
How long will it take for me to find out if a farm wants to hire me?
Each farm has its own hiring timeline and will interview and hire apprentices based on their needs. It will take a few weeks for Program Staff to review and rank your application, and a farm could offer you a position shortly after. However, if you apply during a period when farmers are not hiring, you may wait for several months to hear from a farmer. Note that this is a very competitive program and not every applicant will receive a job offer. Qualified applications stay in our system for up to two years.
If I am not eligible to apply at this time, can I reapply in the future?
Yes. If you currently are ineligible to apply but become eligible within that year (for example, because you turn 18 or you are able to move to the area), then you are welcome to fill out and submit the pre-application at that time.
I’m interested in starting my own farm. Is this the right program for me?
The Beginning Farm and Ranch Management Apprenticeship program trains individuals for a job in farm management. While farm managers may eventually take over the farm or start their own farm in the long-term, this may not be the best program to help you achieve your goal if you want to start a farm in the short-term. Instead, we would encourage you to apply to the California Farm Academy Beginning Farmer Training Program.
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 discuss with your employer whether you will be able to get the minimum number of hours in each of the work process areas. If you and your employer are able to meet the requirements, your next step would be to contact the Apprenticeship Program at email@example.com or by phone, (530) 795-4146. If at any point you have questions, please contact 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.